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Environmentalists Testify to Urge Green Priorities for Jobs Bond

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June 16, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Noting trends favoring cleaner materials and cleaner energy, environmentalists today challenged the legislature and the Governor to “green” the jobs bond. In a statement to legislators, major state environmental groups urged that priority be given to areas of rapid job growth that will also result in clean manufacturing, clean air and water, energy efficiency, preservation of farmland, and protection of the Great Lakes.

“Michigan’s unique economic base, which includes manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, make the State the ideal place to innovate in clean manufacturing, clean energy, and bio-based materials and fuels from agricultural products,” said Mike Garfield, Director of the Ecology Center.

“Michigan already has the infrastructure in place, the technological know-how, the research facilities, and the trained work force to become a leader in green manufacturing. Innovative businesses are already moving in that direction. But we need to provide support and incentives and build markets for the businesses that are creating the products of tomorrow,” said David Gard of the Michigan Environmental Council.

In nearly every industry sector, the growth of green products and services is expected to far outstrip the non-green alternatives. Bio-based materials are estimated to grow from .5% of current production to more than 12% by 2010, and 25% by 2030. Bio-based raw materials can come from agricultural products and waste, supporting farmers and farm communities.

Similarly, sales of so called “green” solvents are expected to grow by more than 5.7% per year, while sales for traditional solvents will be flat. Growth in green energy, and green building materials are also predicted to grow dramatically in the coming years. In many cases, demand far outstrips supply in green product areas, as demonstrated recently with hybrid cars.

“These bond proposals are a tremendous opportunity to restore Michigan’s heritage,” said Zoe Lipman, of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office. “By investing in state of the art, high growth industries that are also environmentally sound - we have an opportunity to protect and rebuild the two pillars of Michigans identity -vibrant industry and healthy Great Lakes.”

Tapping into the export market is also critical for Michigan, and green products and processes are some of the most promising in this arena as well. Environmental regulations internationally, particularly in Western Europe, increasingly require greener materials. Michigan’s total global exports last year were $35 billion, with $4.3 billion to the European Union. Transportation equipment topped the list of exports, where regulations are moving the industry toward greener components.

To capitalize on these emerging markets with the greatest potential for growth, Michigan needs to prioritize investment in the development of green technologies, products and services, while protecting and restoring our natural resources.

“Direct services from our environment — agriculture and tourism — are the second and third largest sources of jobs in the State. We must protect and restore and build on our natural state assets,” said Garfield.

“Greening manufacturing has many benefits beyond capturing emerging markets: it reduces threats to health and the environment thereby reducing health care and cleanup costs; it increases our ability to attract the best and brightest to a state with wonderful natural amenities; decreases health care costs associated with environmental degradation; it can support agricultural production in the state; and it increases the quality of life for all Michiganders,” said Cyndi Roper of Clean Water Action. “The goals of a vibrant economy with plentiful jobs and a restored and protected environment are not only compatible, Michigan’s future depends on this marriage,” said Roper.

Environmentalists urged priority be given within the existing bond proposal to clean energy, particularly in advanced efficiency technologies that improve energy efficiency, in green manufacturing and bio-based materials and “green chemistry,” chemicals and chemical processes that are designed to reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances through safe and efficient processes.

The following groups submitted a proposal to the state legislature today: Ecology Center, Michigan Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, Clean Water Action, and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

For more information, contact:
Mike Garfield, Ecology Center, (734) 904-4388
David Gard, Michigan Environmental Council, (517) 487-9539