Energy & Environment

Whitmer releases plan to make Michigan carbon neutral by 2050

Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

The administration of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Wednesday released a draft plan that will more aggressively push the state toward carbon neutrality by 2050.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) announced the draft and a public comment period on the plan until Feb. 14 in a release posted on the department’s website.

In the draft, the department says the goal is to meet a 28-percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, a 52-percent reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. To do so, the state plans on putting more electric vehicles on roads, phasing out coal-powered electricity and aggressively supporting clean, renewable energy.

EGLE Director Liesl Clark called the draft plan “a uniquely Michigan plan designed to chart a path toward a safer, healthier and more economically vibrant Michigan that aggressively slashes greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.”

“We look forward to the upcoming robust discussions that will create a final plan that protects Michiganders and at the same time positions the state to take advantage of new technologies, economic trends, visionary ventures and the jobs they create,” she said in a statement. “Being left behind in the next economy is not an option.”

The plan mentions following President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which the president signed via executive order last year to help underserved communities.

Other states have also initiated plans for a carbon neutral goal, according to the Clean Energy States Alliance. But state governments have a wide array of target goals and dates to achieve those. For example, Connecticut is pushing for carbon-free electricity by 2040, while Arizona plans to reach that goal by 2070.

In 2020, Whitmer charged EGLE with drafting a plan for the 2050 carbon neutral goal by the end of 2021. A state-appointed climate commission, made up of 14 Michiganders who represent a wide array of sectors in the state, met 14 times over the course of 2021 to draft the plan.

Among other recommendations, Michigan’s draft plan includes a phasing out of coal-powered electricity by no later than 2035; investing in clean public transit systems and building out infrastructure to support 2 million electric vehicles by 2030; and converting state facilities to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Phyllis Meadows, a senior fellow with The Kresge Foundation’s Health Program and member of the Climate Council, said the draft involved input from hundreds of experts and Michiganders. The final plan should also be informed by people across the board.

“To be successful, Michigan will need to continue this engagement work with residents, businesses large and small, and communities to create a framework to get a lot done quickly and with no Michigander left behind,” Meadows said in a statement.

Tags carbon neutral Carbon neutrality Climate Change Department of Environment Detroit Draft plan Emissions reduction Great Lakes and Energy Gretchen Whitmer Joe Biden Michigan Renewable energy

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