Energy News Roundup: Recognition of tribal treaties, Michigan Green Bank, former Upper Peninsula mine sites

Energy News Roundup: Recognition of tribal treaties, Michigan Green Bank, former Upper Peninsula mine sites
December 10, 2020 Ian Wendrow
Photo by unknown via pxhere.com cc 1.0

Keep up with energy-related developments in the Great Lakes area with Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.

In this edition: Environmentalists in Wisconsin sue EPA over regulation rollback favoring coal plants, bankruptcy plan for Ohio nuclear power company upheld by appeals court, Prairie Island tribe prepares for massive investment in renewable energy, and Ford Motors to invest millions for electric vehicle construction in southeast Michigan

Click on the headline to read the full story:


Across the United States, tribal treaties are becoming more and more influential in shaping legislative policy while also seeing greater recognition in courthouses, potentially reshaping the entire landscape of environmental justice. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel both cited an 1836 treaty when announcing plans to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 construction in the Straits of Mackinac. The tribal treaty was not the only reason cited, but its inclusion is seen as an acknowledgment that the United States has, historically, failed to honor the vast majority of treaties signed with Indigenous nations and is being redressed through the legal system. 

The incoming Biden administration has pledged to put forward $2 trillion to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, providing incentives to encourage the installation of solar panels, infrastructure efficiency upgrades and electric vehicle charging stations among other initiatives. Supporters of Biden’s plan point to Michigan Saves’ green bank program as a blueprint for Biden to adopt. Within a decade, Michigan Saves has provided over $270 million worth of loans for thousands of individuals and businesses. It has also demonstrated the nation’s highest return on investment, with $30 put in by the private sector on average for each public dollar. 

Groveland Mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is one of dozens of defunct iron mines dotted throughout the landscape. What makes Groveland different from the others is a plan to convert the infrastructure, which has been left dormant since the mine’s closure in 1981, into a mass solar array. Using the mine’s old tailings area, where mine waste would have been deposited, the Department of Natural Resources intends to construct a 300 acre solar array with the assent of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Such a project would be a first for the DNR but if successful is expected to start generating electricity by 2023 that could power over 4,000 homes.

Catch up on other Great Lakes energy headlines here:

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Wisconsin groups sue EPA, Ohio’s ongoing nuclear power bankruptcy saga

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Climate Jobs Illinois, Line 3, natural gas in Minnesota

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Michigan clean energy transition, pilot hydrogen production plant, Ohio nuclear bankruptcy ruling

Featured image: Solar panels (Photo by unknown via pxhere.com cc 1.0)


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