Now that the state primary is behind us, it's time to look straight ahead at the national election. The major parties have decided that Michigan is actually important to them, so we have Senators McCain and Obama coming here and talking about issues that do matter to this state. (Like, um, jobs.)
But it is less than inspiring that environmentally, they tend to limit the conversation to fuel efficiency (Obama) and nuclear energy (McCain). Where is the talk about the value of the Great Lakes to this entire continent? How about curbing sprawl and the importance of strong urban centers to healthy agricultural areas? Transit? Amtrak?
Forgive me my cynicism, but increased fuel efficiency and the construction of nuclear plants are just not enough. And it says a lot about our candidates that they've decided to keep strong environmental rhetoric out of their stump speeches for fear of alienating potential voters.
It also says a lot that they are probably right. Over the years, the American concept of "freedom" has become confused with the concept of "get whatever I want whenever I want no matter the consequences." Most people don't want to be told by their next president to live closer to work or to cut the A/C or to ride their bike to the grocery store. (Remember Carter's cardigan?)
Onto state politics, which are no less disappointing. Metromode has talked RPS, or renewable portfolio standards, before. A coalition of alternative energy companies, advocates and environmental groups have been calling for at least 20% of the state's energy be produced by renewable sources by 2020. The state Senate recently gutted the House's modest reach towards that goal, leaving Michigan in a really non-progressive place nationally when it comes to renewable mandates.
This matters because companies want to see that a state is supporting renewable energy before investing in it.
Glenn Puit wrote a comprehensive analysis of the battle for RPS for the Michigan Land Use Institute. Read it here
This is a serious issue that Michigan needs to address sooner rather than later.
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh