League of Conservation Voters’ Gene Karpinski: Michigan’s Prop 3 Would Energize State’s Renewables

The ballot initiative would increase the state’s renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025.
Will Michiganders embrace a solar and wind energy future? (Photo: Cultura / Getty Images
Oct 9, 2012· 2 MIN READ

Two years ago, the most important clean energy and climate fight was in California, where two Texas oil companies were pushing a dirty energy proposition that would have rolled back the state’s landmark global warming legislation. Thankfully, California voters overwhelmingly rejected this effort.

This year, the eyes of clean energy proponents are on Michigan. But unlike in California, the initiative on the ballot in the Great Lakes State offers an opportunity to implement a positive, forward-looking policy that would create thousands of new jobs and improve air and water quality.

There’s obviously a lot at stake in this year’s election. For those of us who care about building a clean energy economy and protecting the planet for future generations, Michigan is ground zero.

MORE: Obama and Romney: Which Way Are the Wind Farms Blowing?

Proposal 3 would increase Michigan’s renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025—meaning that a quarter of the state’s electricity would come from clean, renewable sources, like wind and solar.

If implemented, this proposal would be a win for Michigan’s economy and a win for Michigan’s families, which is why it’s been endorsed by a broad bipartisan coalition that includes Michigan businesses, labor unions, healthcare advocates and environmental groups.

Perhaps most importantly, Prop 3 would give a shot in the arm to the state’s economy by creating an estimated 94,000 Michigan jobs—jobs that can’t be outsourced to China or elsewhere—while also sparking more than $10 billion in new investments in the state.

At the same time, this proposal would provide Michiganders with cleaner and healthier air and water. Michigan’s dirty and outdated coal plants emit dangerous levels of mercury, sulfur dioxide and arsenic, which are linked to heart disease, childhood asthma, lung disease and premature death. Using more wind and solar energy will reduce that harmful pollution.

But Prop 3 has implications far beyond its benefits to Michigan’s economy and families. Across the country, corporate polluters have spent tens of millions of dollars attacking the promise of clean energy. They’re attempting to weaken public support for clean energy in order to maintain our dependence on dirty energy sources—and thus maintain the billions in profits they reap from that dependence. And naturally, industry is spending millions in Michigan to defeat Prop 3 by flooding the airwaves with false, misleading TV ads attacking the proposal.

This is why passing Prop 3 is so important. It is the only place in the country where clean energy itself is actually on the ballot. Michigan voters have the opportunity to vote up or down on investing in a clean energy economy. A win in Michigan will send a message to big polluters everywhere that despite the millions in dirty energy profits they have at their disposal, they cannot stop voters from embracing a cleaner, safer, more sustainable energy future.

While we remain optimistic that we will elect more clean energy champions to Congress this November, too many politicians are still beholden to Big Oil, which is blocking efforts to advance clean energy policies. But initiatives like Michigan’s Prop 3 offer us a path to make meaningful progress on clean energy at the state level. And the more progress we make at the state level, the more pressure we can apply to federal lawmakers to implement similar policies at the national level.

There’s obviously a lot at stake in this year’s election. For those of us who care about building a clean energy economy and protecting the planet for future generations, Michigan is ground zero.

Click here for more information about Michigan's renewable energy ballot initiative.

These are solely the author's opinions and do not represent those of TakePart, LLC or its affiliates.

Should Michiganders vote yes on Proposal 3? Argue for or against in the comments below.