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State points the way with roadmap to carbon-neutral Michigan by 2050

Governor Whitmer and EGLE Director Liesl Clark at MI Healthy Climate Plan announcement.When the State of Michigan calls for climate action, it knows actions speak louder than words.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has released its MI Healthy Climate Plan, a roadmap for Michigan to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050 with interim 2030 goals.

While the plan calls for action from Michiganders at all levels - local governments, businesses and institutions, communities, and households - it highlights numerous ways state agencies are leading by example. For instance, the state has:

  • Signed agreements to power state-owned facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
  • Committed to carbon neutrality in state-owned buildings by 2040.
  • Pledged to reduce energy usage in state-owned facilities 40% by 2040.
  • Committed to electrify the state's vehicle fleet.
  • Required all state facilities to offer recycling services.

Many of the state's actions relate to six focus areas in the Climate Plan:

  • Clean energy production and modernization of the electrical grid - In 2019, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) launched MI Power Grid, a multiyear stakeholder process to maximize the benefits of clean, distributed energy resources for Michigan residents and businesses.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has developed a policy allowing farmers to rent properties enrolled in the Michigan Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act for large-scale solar operations while preserving its farmland status by suspending and extending agreements for an equivalent number of years.

  • Electrifying vehicles and enhancing public transit - The Office of Future Mobility and Electrification within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) has led several projects to promote electric vehicle adoption and eliminate range anxiety associated with the availability of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) also completed a Transportation Asset Management Plan that included analysis of risks to the department related to climate change. It has supported external initiatives like the Southeast Michigan Council of Government's climate resiliency and flooding mitigation study to identify infrastructure assets in Southeast Michigan - including roads, bridges, culverts, and pump stations - that are most at risk for flooding.

  • Repairing and decarbonizing homes and businesses - The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) within LEO included a Green Policy within its Qualified Allocation Plan to require all its housing projects to achieve a green building certification and to add incentives for projects to achieve higher levels of sustainability commitments and energy efficiency. MSHDA's 2022 Statewide Housing Plan also focuses on environmental justice in housing development and rehabilitation.
  • Driving clean-energy jobs and innovation - The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) within LEO has started integrating Michigan's climate goals into its business attraction efforts and has adjusted its focus to strategic industries that support the transition to a clean energy future, including energy storage businesses, electrified vehicle manufacturers, and companies that perform research and development in these sectors.
  • Protecting Michigan's land and water - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) incorporated climate mitigation as a key pillar in its Public Land Strategy to ensure the department identified appropriate strategies for emerging climate-based threats to natural resources. It also launched the nation's first carbon sequestration and carbon market program on state forest land.
  • Committing to environmental justice principles and a just transition that supports displaced workers - EGLE developed a Michigan-specific Environmental Justice Screening Tool that provides maps and data to help Michigan move toward environmental equity. It allows users to identify where populations are more vulnerable and what challenges communities face. EGLE is also supporting the MPSC in considering environmental justice and health impacts as a part of the utility integrated resource plan process.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a "Climate and Health Adaptation Planning Guide for Michigan Communities" to help local units of government and their residents integrate climate and health concepts into existing community planning and decision making.

Gov. Whitmer announced the plan Thursday while visiting a large solar array in Traverse City with EGLE Director Liesl Clark, business owners, tribal leaders, and students.

Caption: Governor Whitmer and EGLE Director Liesl Clark at MI Healthy Climate Plan announcement.

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