Last month, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette sided with some other state attorneys general by joining a lawsuit against the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The lawsuit is wrong on so many fronts, but on this one in particular: the Clean Power Plan (CPP) is a momentous opportunity to revitalize Michigan's economy.
You may have seen the current television ads from Independence USA -- Michael Bloomberg's PAC -- that defend the CPP and target Attorney General Schuette among others for their efforts to derail a policy that represents the country's single-largest effort to ensure America has an energy system that is clean, affordable, and reliable today and for generations to come -- one that would create thousands of middle class jobs for Michiganders.
And the ads are spot-on: Schuette's decision proves he's willing to play politics instead of doing what is right for our state. In fact, Governor Snyder stated that Michigan wouldn't challenge the Clean Power Plan. Yet Schutte decided otherwise. He is siding with big polluters and acting on his own. The consequences could be devastating.
I know this because I was governor during one of the greatest economic recessions in American history. You don't need me to tell you how hard our state was hit and how difficult it has been to recover. But during those tough times, we realized we need new, innovative industries to rebuild. Renewable energy is one of those industries. That's why I signed into law a 2008 bill that required 10 percent of Michigan's energy portfolio to come from renewable energy. It cut carbon pollution that causes climate change. It also spurred job growth when we needed it most.
Fast forward nearly a decade, and we have even more results and research that allows us to separate what's fact from fiction when it comes to renewable energy.
For example, we often hear cynics say renewables are bad for business. Bill Schutte said this plan is "placing jobs at risk and costing Michigan families more." Facts show Schutte and climate change deniers are wrong.
In Michigan, electricity powered by wind is one-third cheaper than electricity powered by coal. So it only makes sense that within the next five years, we will retire 25 coal plants and instead invest in what works.
But we also know that renewable energy doesn't destroy jobs; it creates them. Take the American solar industry for example: it alone currently employees twice as many people as the coal industry. Indeed, clean energy powered Michigan's state's recovery and now employs 76,000 workers. Those are good-paying jobs in a cutting edge industry. If we embrace energy efficiency through initiatives like the Clean Power Plan, we can add an additional 21,000 jobs in manufacturing alone by 2020. That's good for the environment and good for families.
So Michigan can either be relegated to the sidelines as other states build the products and create the jobs to create more efficient energy, or we can choose a more promising path. Michigan can lead on clean energy while simultaneously creating all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people, but particularly for the middle class.
The option is clear: Let's do what's right for our environment and for our workers. Let's implement an idea that will keep Michigan moving forward.