By Anna Liz Nichols, Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan will build clean energy infrastructure and invest in green programs over the next 30 years with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 to confront climate change, a draft of a state plan says.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer committed Michigan to the 2050 goal in 2020 and formed the Council on Climate Solutions in the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy — or EGLE — to create and oversee implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan.
The council came up with its draft plan after taking input from hundreds of residents, local government officials, academic experts and others, EGLE Director Liesl Eichler Clark said in a letter in the draft, which was posted online Wednesday.
“While climate-related forces beyond our two peninsulas will challenge and shape our future in the coming decades, the historic transition to carbon neutrality also presents Michigan opportunities to advance equity, create good paying jobs, increase economic competitiveness, and improve our quality of life by protecting our air quality and the Great Lakes,” Clark wrote.
A large portion of Michigan’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electrical power and transportation, the draft notes.
To reach the 2050 goal of carbon neutrality, the plan would have the state convert to 100% clean, renewable energy. It would aim to switch to 50% clean, renewable energy by 2030.
The plan would phase out coal-fired power by 2035, though some large utilities such as DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have already said they plan to shut down coal-fired plants years sooner.
To cut transportation emissions, the plan calls for the construction of infrastructure that could accommodate 2 million electric vehicles on roads by 2030.
Though the plan provides several benchmarks for transitioning the state to carbon neutrality over the next few decades, Clark acknowledged that it provides more of a broad look of what is to come and doesn’t fill in every detail. As climate change and the state’s technology to combat it evolves, the plan is subject to change, she wrote.
Members of the public can email suggestions to EGLE and attend online public listening sessions that are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday and 6 p.m. Feb. 8.
Last month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to make the federal government carbon-neutral by 2050, aiming for a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an all-electric fleet of car and trucks five years later.
Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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Featured image: In September, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order that called for cutting emissions 28 percent by 2025 compared with 1990 levels. She set 2050 as the deadline for the state to reach carbon neutrality. This Presque Isle power plant no longer operates. (Photo Credit: J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue)