by Daniel J. Graeber
Lansing, Mich. (UPI) Sep 2, 2015
Michigan's governor received praise from the renewable energy industry for backing a federal clean power plan, but interstate political issues remain.
The state government said it was embarking on its own initiative to ensure it's in compliance with a federal Clean Power Plan unveiled Aug. 3. Under the program, states need to either develop their own low-carbon agenda or follow federal guidelines.
"The best way to protect Michigan is to develop a state plan that reflects Michigan's priorities of adaptability, affordability, reliability and protection of the environment," Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, said in a statement. "We need to seize the opportunity to make Michigan's energy decisions in Lansing, not leave them in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C."
The final version of the Clean Power Plan sets a goal of cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, by 32 percent of their 2005 baseline by 2030, 9 percent more than in the original proposal. States need to meet specific emission reductions based on state-by-state energy consumption criteria.
Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the solar power sector could play a role in the governor's plans.
"By pledging his commitment to the Clean Power Plan, Gov. Snyder is showing his support for both Michigan's economy and environment," Resch said.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the EPA's efforts to limit mercury and other toxic pollutant emissions without accounting for costs.
In the lead case, Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, industry groups and Republican-led states challenged an order from President Barack Obama to reduce electricity-generating power plant emissions on mercury and other pollutants that can lead to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children.
When the EPA outlined the Clean Power Plan last month, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he was "deeply concerned" by what he saw as a federal decision that put state jobs at risk and possibly lead to higher consumer bills.
Snyder's office said state residents use an average 38 percent more than the national average and pay about 6 percent more for heat and electricity. In March, his office announced plans to use renewable energy for about 19 percent of state needs by 2025.
Michigan depends on coal for much of its energy needs. The National Mining Association President and Chief Executive Officer Hal Quinn threatened to sue the EPA over what it said was a "flawed plan." Michigan's attorney general joined 14 other states in a court challenge against the federal clean power rules.
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