Nov 16, 2007

Panel takes aim at developing a comprehensive climate action plan

Gov. Jennifer Granholm took two steps Wednesday to help the environment: She created a council to develop a comprehensive climate action plan by the end of next year, and she ordered a 10 percent cut in state use of energy, also by the end of next year.

Granholm created the Michigan Climate Action Council to develop a comprehensive climate action plan for the state with the issuance of executive order 2007-42. Granholm said in a press release that the council is part of an overall plan designed to both mitigate the impact of global climate change in Michigan and capitalize on the economic opportunity that addressing those changes will present for the state. The council will consist of 35 representatives from public interest groups, environmental organizations, utilities, the manufacturing sector and other key industries, universities and state and local government. Eight of the members will be assigned by position by statute and the rest will be at-large appointments.

The council is charged with submitting a preliminary plan to the governor by March 31 outlining a list of policy recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including short-, mid-, and long-term reduction goals. A more detailed final report with specific recommendations is due by Dec. 31, 2008.

Liz Boyd, the governor’s press secretary, said although they have many people in mind for the at-large positions on the council, no one -- other than the statutory members -- has been appointed yet. She also said this will be a unique panel because it will include people from the energy and other manufacturing industries along with environmentalists, people that are often at odds with each other.

“We have not yet named anyone to the council, but with the interim report due in March it will be very soon,” she said.

Steven Chester, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), will chair the council, and staff support will be provided by the DEQ.

Those statutory members already named to the Michigan Climate Action Council by law are Don Koivisto, the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture; Keith Cooley, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth; Lisa Webb Sharpe, director of the Michigan Department of Management and Budget; Rebecca Humphries, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; the president of the Michigan Strategic Fund; Orjiakor N. Isiogu, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission; and Fred Nurnberger, the state climatologist.

Granholm also issued an executive directive which will require a 10 percent reduction in energy use by the end of 2008. The state plans to meet the goal through the implementation of new energy efficiency measures. As part of the directive, the state will -- wherever feasible -- “increase use of alternative fuels in its fleet of vehicles; develop a materials management plan to ensure environmentally sound purchasing, use, reuse and recycling of materials by state departments; and ensure that new state owned or leased buildings meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The state will also reduce its electrical energy purchases by 20 percent by 2015.”

Granholm is in Milwaukee for the Midwestern Governors Association Energy Security and Climate Change Summit. Governors from across the Midwest, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa, as well as the premier of Manitoba, were on hand to sign historic agreements to strengthen America’s energy security by increasing production and use of renewable energy, promoting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases.

“The Midwest can be either a big winner or the big loser in the energy and climate debate," Granholm said in a press release. "To win, we need strong regional innovation and collaboration, backed by strong and perhaps unprecedented federal actions and investment, to advance accelerated deployment of lucrative energy and climate technologies."

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