Preservation and Conservation
Michigan is a land of amazing natural beauty and a wealth of resources. If we act responsibly the lands and waters of the state will provide economic and recreational wealth for generations of Michiganders and a healthy home for human and inhuman inhabitants alike.
Our first goal should be protection of the Great Lakes and our public lands from irresponsible exploitation by corporations, individuals, and government. We can not allow further pollution of the Great Lakes or the introduction of invasive species. The reduction in the size or number of our state parks, wildernesses, and wildlife areas is not acceptable and will work to oppose any permits for fossil fuel exploration or drilling in those areas.
The most biologically productive ecosystems of the state are some of the most degraded. Michigan has already lost 50 percent of its historic wetlands, 93 percent of its prairie, and 80 percent of its bottomland hardwood forests. This is not just an issue of ecosystem stability, it is an issue that directly affects the economic future of the state. Every year the state economy depends on $10-$12 million from commercial fishing, $4 billion from boating, and $6 billion from recreational hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. In addition, about 22 million people the state parks each year. From both and ecological and an economic perspective, protecting the Great Lakes and the public lands is crucial to our future.
One more way we can work toward a more sustainable use of our resources in Michigan is by following the mantra: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Michigan is on the verge of a landfill crisis. We only have enough space in our current landfills for about 25 more years. In 2015, Michigan sent 4.5 million cubic yards of waste to landfills. If we are more conscious about what we throw away we can reduce the landfill burden and improve our economy. A 2016 study by the DEQ determined that there was about $368 million of reusable or recyclable material in the state’s landfills. Forty percent of the material in the landfills is organic material that could be composted to improve soil fertility or through anaerobic digesters to create energy. We can easily make a big improvement in this category. Michigan’s recycling rate is about 15 percent, well under half that of the national rate of 35 percent.
The conservation of Michigan’s natural beauty and resources is an ecological and economic responsibility that we all bear.
Michigan's current renewable plan signed into law in 2016, set the standard for energy production from renewable sources to 15% by 2021 with a goal of 35% of all energy usage coming from renewable sources by 2025. This standard, while better than some states like Virginia whose lawmakers repealed their renewable energy plan in 2015; Michigan can do better. A recent study put the number of engineers living in Michigan at approximately 60,000. That means that one in every 165 Michiganders are likely to be an engineer, who can move our state towards matching the strongest renewable energy standard in the United States. We have the brains, now we just need the policy. Here's how:
Michigan should match California and New York's renewable energy standard of 50% of energy by 2030.
How is this possible?
- Solar panels perform better in the cold.
- Offshore wind potential is the third highest in the nation
Michigan could not only produce enough energy from renewable resources to service to its own residents, but could also provide clean, renewable energy for the entire region. We have the people and we have the resources. Now we just need the leadership in Lansing that will be able to see the vision through!