Hazardous waste is not renewable energy. State legislators put corporate polluters over Michigan families

LANSING – Today, state legislators in the House Energy and Tech Committee gave fossil fuel industries a free pass to pollute Michigan’s air and water and harm residents’ health broadening the definition of renewable energy resources to include fuels manufactured from hazardous and solid waste products. The bill, House Bill 5205, gives industries that incinerate wastes renewable energy credits.

“This bill is yet another attempt by corporate polluters to maximize their own profits at the expense of Michigan residents’ health,” said Rory Nuener of MI Air MI Health. “With confidence in our elected officials at already historically low levels, legislators should be prioritizing investing more in renewable energy that doesn’t harm public health, not siding with fossil fuel industries.”

Michigan’s asthma rate is 10 percent higher than the national average. A recent study of asthma hospitalization in Wayne County found that Detroit’s zip codes had three to six times higher admission than the state as a whole. The Michigan Department of Community Health has deemed this area the “Epicenter of Asthma Burden,” due to the health consequences these local families face.

“This bill would likely have a greater impact on struggling minority communities, where polluting facilities are typically located,”said Alexis Blizman, policy director of the Ecology Center. “It’s up to our elected leaders in Lansing to protect all communities and families in our state. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air.”

Under the 2008 Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act, Michigan utilities must generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015 and are on track to meet this standard. A 30 percent renewable portfolio could be achieved by 2035, according to a report released last year on behalf of the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Michigan Energy Office.

“Now is the time for our state elected officials to increase Michigan’s renewable energy standard, not undo the progress we’ve made by attempting to masquerade pollution as clean energy,” said Anne Woiwode, state director of the Michigan Sierra Club.

Using more wind and solar energy will reduce pollution, give Michiganders cleaner and healthier air and water, protect the Great Lakes, stimulate economic development, and hedge against higher electric rates in Michigan.

“There is already overwhelming public support in Michigan for increasing our state’s use of renewable energy,” said Eric Keller, Clean Water Action campaigns director. “Leaders in Lansing should be listening to their constituents and putting forward sound factual scientifically and economically based legislation that moves Michigan forward. This bill is a step in the wrong direction and a slap in the face to all of those who are trying to make Michigan a better state.”

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Clean Energy Now is a coalition of groups that supports policies that will move Michigan beyond coal power and toward greater use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency as a way to protect the environment and build prosperity. Follow the campaign at CleanEnergyNowMI.org.

 

Contact: Marissa Luna, 989-798-3051, marissa@engagemichigan.org

Published on December 2, 2014