LANSING (November 1, 2012)—More than 200 academics, scientists and experts in Michigan have signed an open letter in support of ramping up Michigan’s renewable electricity standard to 25 percent by 2025.
The letter—saying the idea is feasible and would yield both economic and health benefits—was signed by scientists, engineers, economists and health professionals from across Michigan.
“Innovative Michigan businesses realize clean energy is good for their bottom line. By refueling our economy with Michigan’s renewable energy, we can keep hard earned dollars in our state that would otherwise leave to pay for imported coal and oil,” said John Patten, director of Western Michigan University’s Manufacturing Research Center and professor and chair of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering.
Voters will decide next Tuesday whether utilities should be required to use renewable resources—such as wind, solar, and biomass—to produce 25 percent of the electricity they generate.
“Keeping Michigan’s energy dollars in our state will create even more economic benefits. By boosting our use of renewable energy, we can keep in state more of the approximately $1.4 billion we spend every year to import coal to fuel coal-fired power plants that are polluting our environment and hurting our health,” said Sean Huberty, professor at Lansing Community College’s Alternative Energy Program.
The experts say increasing reliance on renewables would help the economy in several ways, including redirecting money spent on coal imports to homegrown fuel sources. The state spends about $1.4 billion every year importing coal for electricity generation, according to the letter.
Meanwhile, the state’s current renewable energy standard, which requires utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015, has a proven track record of economic success. It has already spurred at least $100 million in investments in the state.
“Generating 25 percent of our electricity from renewable energy will make Michigan competitive with other Midwest states in the growing clean energy industry. In Iowa for example, renewables already make up 20 percent of the electricity mix versus only 4 percent today in Michigan,” said Barry Solomon, founder and former president of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics and director of Michigan Technological University’s Graduate Program in Environmental Policy.
Increasing the state’s reliance on clean energy has the added benefit of reducing air pollution, protecting the Great Lakes and other water resources, and reining in carbon emissions, according to the letter.
“Fishing is a vital lure for Michigan’s growing tourism industry, but mercury pollution limits safe consumption of the fish caught here. Using more renewable energy is one way to reduce toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants, the biggest source of mercury emissions in the Great Lakes region,” said Nicholas Schroeck, director of the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic at Wayne State University Law School.
The endorsers of the letter are based at a wide variety of institutions, including universities and colleges, government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. The endorsers’ signatures include their institutional affiliation for identification purposes only and should not be construed to imply any institutional endorsement.