Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pursuit of Jobs Trumps a Healthy Planet

On March 19, 2009, State Representative Bill Caul, along with 71 other representatives (including, unfortunately, Andy Dillon who should have known better), sent the following letter to Governor Granholm. They sent it because she had the audacity to issue a directive that in order for a coal-burning power plant to be built, the company would have to show that burning coal was the cheapest, most environmentally friendly way to generate power. 

It was a perfect setting for the folks who taut “clean coal” to prove they could, in fact, mitigate the environmental damage that comes from producing, burning, and storing the toxic byproducts of coal. But did they take advantage of the opportunity? Nope, instead they chose to roundly criticize the governor for not considering coal to be a renewable resource (yes, you read that correctly) and missing out on the jobs that would come from building the next generation of coal-burning power plants. 

Their theme is, jobs, jobs, jobs, even if the products of these jobs poison the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. These are our elected public officials who are willing to condemn their descendants to a poisoned planet in order to win the votes of their constituents who are caught in a sinking economy. Is this what they meant when they wrote “the urgent need to create jobs in Michigan trumps most all other priorities during this time of economic crisis.” Do jobs really trump emitting poisonous gases into the atmosphere, polluting our water, sickening our children? Is clean air a lower priority than having a job where you contribute to the pollution of our planet?   

What were Caul and Dillon thinking when they wrote this letter? Were they thinking? 

March 19,2009

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
George W, Romney Building
111 S. Capitol Ave.
Lansing. Ml 48909

Dear Governor Granholm:

We are writing to express our concern about the change in direction of Michigan’s energy policy as affected by Executive Directive 2009-02, which suspended the permitting and construction of new coal-fired power plants in Michigan.

When the 94th Legislature undertook the task of reforming PA 141 and crafting a comprehensive energy policy for the 21st Century, many important principles guided the process, including expanding sources of renewable energy, developing a statewide energy efficiency plan and updating the state’s aging base load power plant capacity. While all important in their own right, no factor loomed as large over the deliberation as the prospect for expanded job creation and economic growth that these changes would facilitate, As a result, a broad coalition representing business and labor worked hand-in-hand with legislators of both parties as well as the Administration in crafting this multi-faceted proposal that you signed into law.

With the issuance of ED 2009-02, we are concerned that this central goal of the legislation, namely job creation, may be compromised or at the very least stalled in a time when Michigan can least afford to move slowly. By delaying the permitting process for construction of new base load power plants in the state, the state is in a sense reneging on the promise of’ thousands of new construction jobs far Michigan residents. While the stated motivation for ED 2009—02 may be admirable, we feel that the urgent need to create jobs in Michigan trumps most all other priorities during this time of economic crisis.

Therefore, we respectfully ask that you reconsider this shift in energy policy. Though we may not be able to control all the factors that have driven Michigan’s unemployment rates, we have an obligation to use the tools at our disposal to affect the change that we can. Clearly rethinking the policy set forward in ED 2009-02 is something you can control. Thank you far your attention to this matter.