With the stroke of a pen, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pushed the Midwest state away from fossil fuels and toward a 100% clean, green future by 2040.
And in order to do that, the state government will take approval control of large solar, wind and energy storage projects away from local governments.
“Our 100% clean energy standard will make Michigan a national leader: top-five nationwide and No. 1 in the Midwest,” Whitmer told elated supporters at a signing ceremony in Detroit.MLive
Politics Girl helps explain below.
- With the help of a Democratic controlled legislation, the package would mandate the generation of electricity with 80 percent carbon-free sources by 2035 and 100 percent by 2040 — sources that can include wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas combined with carbon capture.
- Many states have implemented such mandates, but the New York Times says the pace will rival that of California’s. What’s more, it will happen in an industrial Midwest swing state.
What the bills mean for Democrats nationwide?
Included in the package of climate bills is a requirement to match local prevailing wages and working conditions. The package creates a state office to help workers displaced by the energy transition move into new clean-energy jobs.
While aggressive climate action from Democrats tends to expose divisions between the goals of environmentalists and workers, negotiations between the governor, labor advocates and Democrats in the state legislature, the end product pleased most climate activists and labor officials.
“Michigan is leading the way in creating high-road labor standards that protect good-paying jobs while providing a pathway to a clean energy future,” Ryan Sebolt, director of government affairs for the state’s AFL-CIO, told me. As energy work evolves, Sebolt said, the bills will ensure that these remain quality jobs “long into the future.”
As organized labor has long been skeptical that such a balance can be achieved, new UAW contracts will cover workers at new electric-vehicle battery plants.
Showing that quality jobs can be created at green-energy manufacturing jobs can add durable political support for green energy.
If Whitmer Democrats can win over working people by passing solid pro-labor legislation, it could provide a model for more efforts to sell the green transition nationwide.