“The promise of Proposal 3 was great, and many of us worked very hard to help pass it, but the utility companies spent tens of millions of dollars on a misinformation campaign that left voters confused and determined to simply say ‘no’ to anything that changed the Constitution,” according to Ecology Center director Michael Garfield. “At the end of the day, that spelled defeat for Proposal 3.”
In fact, polls taken after the election found that voters were still supportive of greater reliance on renewable energy in the state.
“So, for us, it’s first things first,” Garfield said. “We need to protect what we’ve already won, and make sure the legislature doesn’t weaken Michigan’s current renewable-energy strategy.”
The current policy calls on the state to generate 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015. The goal is clearly within reach, but there have been rumblings of efforts to repeal it.
And the Ecology Center and other clean-energy advocates will be working hard on new approaches for creating a clean-energy future, recognizing that some of the most promising strategies are at the local level.
For example, the Ann Arbor 350 project mobilizes the local community to reduce carbon emissions and create models of sustainability for the state and region. In Ann Arbor, voters supported Proposal 3 by a 64 percent to 36 percent.
At the state level, the Ecology Center is one of the founding members of the Built by Michigan campaign, a coalition of business, labor, environmental groups and others supporting Michigan’s growing electric vehicle industry.
In a message to supporters after the election, Garfield cited the example of another ambitious campaign that didn’t meet immediate success, the 1998 Washtenaw County land-preservation ballot initiative.
“Like Proposal 3, that proposal was also trounced by a flood of industry money and distortion,” he said. “We were all depressed the day after, but we got back to work, and within seven years, we’d passed five separate ballot proposals – including the Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program and the Washtenaw County Natural Areas Program – that cumulatively generated three times as much land preservation money as the 1998 proposal. So things may look grim for clean energy in Michigan right now, but if we keep at it, we’ll turn Proposal 3’s defeat around just like we did in Washtenaw County.”
EcoLink — November 2012 An online publication of the Ecology Center