Howard Joins WBEZ’s Worldview to Discuss Paris Climate Agreement

Monday afternoon, Howard Learner joined Jerome McDonnell on WBEZ’s global affairs program Worldview to discuss what the COP21 agreement reached in Paris means to efforts to address climate change. You can listen to the broadcast below.

Midwest Energy News Cites ELPC Michigan Supply Chain Report to Show Clean Energy Driving Economic Development

Strong clean-energy policy not only has environmental benefits, but it can also provide a push for businesses and economic development.

That’s according to Amy Butler — the executive director of OU INC, a small-business incubator specializing in energy at Oakland University in Michigan — who sees it unfold everyday.

Butler, who spent two decades on the policy side working for the state of Michigan, has transitioned to the business side and sees how the two can interact with each other.

Encouraging the clean-energy sector through standards and incentives makes the case for businesses to come to Michigan, she says.

recent report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center counted more than 300 businesses operating with the wind and solar supply chain here. Multiple reports have shown clean-energy investments nearing $3 billion and employing thousands in Michigan.

“Strong energy policy will attract energy-solution companies to the state,” Butler said.

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Midwest Energy News: Michigan Clean-Energy Supply Chain Thriving but Threatened According to ELPC’s Report

In Michigan, more than 300 businesses are active in the clean-energy sector, creating a supply chain of manufacturing, financing, engineering, designing and installing wind, solar and advanced battery systems, according to a new report from the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center.

And much of that economic development can be attributed to the state’s 2008 renewable portfolio standard that mandated 10 percent of the state’s generation portfolio come from renewables by the end of this year. Utilities have easily hit the target.

“We found the economic impact of the industry in Michigan is significant,” said John Paul Jewell, ELPC research coordinator.

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News: ELPC Launches 2015 Michigan Clean Energy Supply Chain Report

December 3, 2015
Contact: David Jakubiak

Report: 300+ Businesses in Michigan’s Clean Energy Supply Chain
$2.6 Billion in Annual Economic Activity Generated by Wind, Solar, Energy Storage

More than 300 Michigan companies serve clean energy markets, providing jobs to people across the state who are manufacturing, financing, designing, engineering, installing and maintaining renewable energy projects here and across the region, a study released Thursday by the Environmental Law & Policy Center found.

“Across Michigan, businesses large and small are engineering, designing, manufacturing, and building the clean energy projects that will power the future of the state,” said John Paul Jewell, Research Coordinator at ELPC. “What’s more is that we found dozens of businesses that are prepared to jump in to the clean energy sector if the state’s energy policy drives increased development of wind and solar energy.”

The report was developed through an analysis of data from several industry groups. The companies were then individually contacted to confirm their supply chain role.

“Michigan’s renewable energy economy is driven by a healthy mix of large manufacturers like Dow Corning and Kaydon Bearings, and smaller start-up companies of 20 or fewer employees that are poised to grow by leaps and bounds,” said Jewell, added.

The report identified at least 187 Michigan companies involved in the state’s solar energy supply chain and at least 133 companies involved in the state’s wind power supply chain.

While the state’s clean energy economy has been one of Michigan’s fastest growing sectors in recent years, legislation being considered in Lansing threatens to slam the brakes on continued growth, some business owners warn.

“I would be hiring an additional installation crew, a crew manager and a full time office manager if it wasn’t for the legislation that is being promulgated in Lansing,” said Mark Hagerty, President of Michigan Solar & Wind Power Solutions in Commerce. “A revised energy bill being considered here in Michigan would substantially reduce the amount solar customers receive for the peak electricity they put on to the grid. That’s going to make a lot of customers delay investing in solar, which will have impacts at my company, and all throughout our state’s solar supply chain.”

Download a PDF of the report


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Circle of Blue: ELPC’s Madeline Fleisher Warns Tougher Regs Needed for Great Lakes to Avoid More Algae Bloom Disasters

After years of watching their state do little to address stormwater runoff, polluted wells, and noxious algae blooms in once clear waters, 16 Wisconsin citizens last month decided enough was enough. They filed a petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force Wisconsin to correct failures in its clean water program or else take away Wisconsin’s authority to administer permits under the Clean Water Act.

It is a step of last resort expressing an utter lack of confidence in the state government’s ability and desire to protect its waterways.

The past two decades have seen the dismantling of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the state agency in charge of issuing and enforcing clean water regulations, according to Kim Wright, executive director of Midwest Environmental Advocates. The agency’s workforce has declined 18 percent since 1995. Last summer Republican Governor Scott Walker abolished the agency’s water division and its Bureau of Science Services while eliminating 18 staff positions.

Midwest Environmental Advocates, a Madison-based nonprofit law center, filed the petition for corrective action on behalf of the 16 individual citizens. The budget and staff cuts, and other changes, seriously harmed the agency’s ability to protect water, according to the petition, which also references a 2011 letter from the EPA that outlined problems within the state’s Clean Water Act programs.

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Public News Service: Photographers Aim to Preserve Parts of Lake Michigan

CHICAGO – An art exhibit opening today in Chicago is focused on capturing the beauty of an ecologically sensitive area on Lake Michigan.

Brad Klein, senior attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said the center is showcasing the photos of three artists to help bring attention to a section of land near the Saugatuck Dunes in Michigan. A real-estate developer is considering some of that land for residential properties.

“If you allow this kind of development in such a critical area,” he said, “you really threaten to kind of kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”

Klein said the local economy in Saugatuck relies in part on the natural beauty of the dunes to draw in tourists, and that the real-estate development could put that at risk. The photos, featuring natural scenes of the dunes, will be on display at the Environmental Law and Policy Center in downtown Chicago.

Klein said the Great Lakes are a treasure for the area and all Midwesterners should feel a common pull to protect the areas around them.

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MLive: Why Michigan won’t shut down Mackinac straits oil pipeline

STRAITS OF MACKINAC — Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry service boats run on oil and they’ve done so for more than 70 years. But they won’t run at all if tourism dries up because the island is engulfed in an oil spill.

That risk has led Chris Shepler, owner of the popular ferry business, to publicly call for a shutdown, or decommissioning, of the Enbridge Inc. twin Line 5 oil pipelines that traverse the straits’ bottom just west of the Mackinac Bridge.

“We’ve got to err on the side of caution,” said Shepler. “Nothing lasts forever.”

That shutdown argument is gaining steam. Calls for either decommissioning, replacing or regulating the controversial Line 5 pipeline segment under the straits have grown more frequent since environmental groups began raising fears a few years ago about an ecological and economic disaster if the 62-year-old line were to a rupture oil into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Legislators have aimed bills at the pipeline. Mayors have written the governor. Freshwater advocates have coalesced around the issue and activists have staged protests and disruptions. The latest occurred last week in Lansing, where a group gathered on the Capitol steps to call for an immediate shutdown of the pipeline, which they consider an unacceptable threat to the Great Lakes.

But state officials recently stopped short of recommending it be shuttered after a yearlong inquiry in a report issued July 14, even though Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who co-chaired the effort, said Line 5’s “days are numbered” and the state would probably not allow its construction were that approval sought today.

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Press Release: Environmental Law & Policy Center Commends President Obama, U.S. EPA on Final Clean Power Plan

For Immediate Release

August 3, 2015

Environmental Law & Policy Center Commends
President Obama, U.S. EPA on Final Clean Power Plan;
Will Partner With Regional Leaders for Smart Implementation

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

“The Clean Power Plan is our nation’s strongest step forward to reduce carbon pollution by accelerating clean solar energy and wind power solutions. Solving our climate change problems is the moral, economic, policy and political challenge of our generation. The Plan’s clean energy development solutions will create Midwest jobs, improve global public health and protect our Great Lakes ecosystem.”

“The Clean Power Plan gives states flexibility for implementation strategies that maximize the benefits of both cutting carbon pollution and growing the clean energy economy. The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s experts on the ground will work with the Midwest’s local stakeholders on plans that will deploy clean technologies to hold down utility bills, create jobs and improve environmental quality.”

“For Midwest manufacturing centers, today’s news is a signal to advance the clean renewable energy and energy efficiency supply chain businesses producing modern equipment. For the Midwest’s rural areas, today’s news is a signal that wind power development will keep growing and provide a new income stream for farmers, spur rural economic development and improve the environment for everyone. For cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Des Moines, Detroit, Indianapolis and Minneapolis, today’s news means a new era of solar panels on rooftops and more energy efficiency buildings that can better energize our urban communities.

“It’s time for the Midwest’s Congressional Delegation and Governors to step up and seize this opportunity to modernize our aging energy system and gain the benefits of growing the new clean energy economy. Let’s end the political squabbling and move forward with smart climate change solutions that are good for many Midwestern businesses and good for our environment.”


Courthouse News Service: Thirty-one States Fight Clean Water Rule

(CN) – Attorneys general from 31 states asked the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to delay implementation of a Clean Water Act rule for at least 9 nine months for judicial review.
The rule defines “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The states claim it asserts federal jurisdiction over streams, wetlands and other water bodies previously considered to be under state jurisdiction.
The EPA cited the need for clean drinking water and clean water as an economic driver as the impetus for its new rule, and Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 in which justices disagreed about which waters were covered by the Act.
“About 117 million Americans – one in three people – get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule,” the EPA said in a May 27 statement about the new rule. “The health of our rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters are impacted by the streams and wetlands where they begin.”


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