In his final State of the City Address(PDF), Mayor George Heartwell spoke with concern for the environmental threats that continue to challenge Grand Rapids. He also painted a clean energy vision for the city to meet those challenges with vigorous optimism and economic growth.
Mayor Heartwell was energetic in proclaiming the necessity of cooperation between businesses, residents, and the municipal government to “turn the rising tide” of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Mayor hopes to accomplish a number of climate resiliency goals this year: to begin the installation of a number of renewable energy projects at existing municipal facilities, to convert the Grand Rapids street lighting system to LED, to complete a reevaluation of city zoning ordinances to insure that there are no obstacles to residential power generation, to continue community efforts to cut GHG’s, and to pass a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
Thank Mayor Heartwell for providing leadership to build a sustainable city, thriving city!
One of the only environmental wins during the Michigan lame duck session is House Bill 5397 getting through the Michigan Senate today unanimously today. HB 5397, known as the "municipal utility residential clean energy program act" will allow Municipal Utilities to provide "on-bill" financing for residential properties to make clean energy and energy efficiency improvements and pay for those improvements through their utility bills.
HB 5397 will remove financial barriers from municipal utility customers in making energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their homes for over 260,000 households. Even if you are not a municipal utility customer, this bill may lay the groundwork for our other utility providers both in Michigan and nationally. This in turn will also save the municipality utilities from further investment in new infrastructure costs. This bill is already being seen as a national model for energy efficiency financing.
Let's celebrate this win together and thank our legislators for taking this step towards residential energy opportunity.
Please take the next 30 seconds to tell WMEAC what environmental issues you want to hear more about, what you are passionate about, and what we should be advocating to protect.
Support the Expansion of Saugatuck Dunes State Park!
Bill in State House Diminishes Biological Diversity
The "anti-biodiversity" Senate Bill (SB) 78 is currently headed to Governor Snyder's desk. This bill will prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from promoting biodiversity in the management of state lands. Basic scientific principles of conservation, land management, and ecological health emphasize the importance of biodiversity.
Best practices for natural resource management and public testimony from leading Michigan ecological scientists were disregarded when the Senate passed this bill; It undermines the Michigan Endangered Species Act and the designation of Biodiversity Stewardship Areas under the Living Legacies program. The bill removes provisions regarding restoration, distribution, and the "continued existence" of native species and communities from the definition of conservation in law.
Tourism will be impacted if the DNR has difficulty maintaining the quality land our state has come to expect and be known for. Additionally, biological diversity is key to the state forest action plan, which contributed to Michigan bringing in $22 million for cooperative agreements including $800,000 in Great Lakes Restoration funds. Removing biodiversity protection would also risk the state's forest certification.
SB 78 represents a radical shift in forest management: it actually removes biological diversity from the responsibilities of the Department of Natural Resources.