(WWJ) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is taking aggressive action to reduce Michigan's carbon footprint in the coming decades.
Executive Order 2020-182 and Executive Directive 2020-10 to create the MI Healthy Climate Plan, which Whitmer's office says will protect Michiganders’ public health and the environment and help develop new clean energy jobs by putting Michigan on a path towards becoming fully carbon-neutral by 2050 — a goal the governor set on Wednesday.
“The science is clear – climate change is directly impacting our public health, environment, our economy, and our families,” said Whitmer, in a statement Wednesday. “This dangerous reality is already causing harm throughout Michigan, with communities of color and low-income Michiganders suffering disproportionately, which is why I’m taking immediate action to protect our state. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave them a cleaner, safer and healthier world.
“Through comprehensive and aggressive steps, we will combat the climate crisis by formally setting and relentlessly pursuing a goal of statewide decarbonization by 2050. These bold actions will provide critical protections for our environment, economy, and public health, now and for years to come. It will also position Michigan to attract a new generation of clean energy and energy efficiency jobs.”
The order and directive are effective immediately.
Executive Directive 2020-10 formally sets the goal of economic decarbonization in Michigan by 2050. Transitioning to carbon neutrality will mitigate the future harms of climate change and enable Michigan to take full advantage of the ongoing global energy transformation—from the jobs it will generate for our skilled workforce, to the protections it will provide for natural resources, to the savings it will bring to communities and utility customers. To ensure steady progress toward this goal, and to prevent irreparable harm to Michigan’s ecosystem, residents, and businesses in the interim, officials say the Executive Directive further provides that Michigan will aim to achieve a 28% reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
In addition, the Department of the Treasury must develop and implement an Energy Transition Impact Project to assist communities in maintaining critical services and ensuring high quality employment for workers while moving toward a more sustainable future when faced with the closure of energy facilities.
To achieve these statewide goals, the Executive Directive tasks the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), under the leadership of its Office of Climate and Energy, to develop and implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan. It will serve as Michigan’s action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning toward carbon neutrality throughout the economy. To help immediately position state government as a leader in these efforts, the Executive Directive tasks the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget with taking specific steps to increase energy efficiency and work towards carbon neutrality in new state buildings and facilities.
Executive Order 2020-182 creates an advisory council within EGLE to guide the department in its development and implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The Council on Climate Solutions will identify and recommend opportunities for the development and effective implementation of emissions-reduction strategies while focusing on targeted solutions for communities disproportionately being affected by the climate crisis. The Council and EGLE will work closely with EGLE’s Office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate – created by Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2019-06 in February 2019 – to ensure fairness for and representation from underserved communities.
"Michiganders have been on the front lines of environmental protection from the first Earth Day 50 years ago, and we continue to lead with these important steps to safeguard Michiganders and their natural resources,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. “We see forward motion with the establishment of the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and the recent announcement of training and technical assistance to help communities address climate impacts. We’re excited to amplify and elevate the work of so many Michigan cities and towns taking vital steps to protect their residents and resources, while sharing in the benefits brought by clean energy industries.”
The governor will appoint individuals who represent the range of sectors, experiences, and expertise relevant to this issue. To apply for appointment to the Council on Climate Solutions, please visit www.michigan.gov/appoinments and fill out the application. Select “Council for Climate Solutions” from the drop-down menu under the Appointment Information section of the application. All applications must be received by Sunday, November 1, 2020.