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Governor, Lieutenant Governor break big news at the MI Healthy Climate Conference

This was not Nate Burnand’s first MI Healthy Climate Conference. The Michigan Public Service Commission analyst happily came back for more after last year’s inaugural event.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer gives the keynote address at the 2024 MI Healthy Climate Conference in Lansing.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer rallies hundreds of attendees Friday, May 17, with her keynote address at the second annual MI Healthy Climate Conference in the Lansing Center.


“It’s been great both times,” he said. “I’ve got a very technical job – we get very in the weeds – and it’s nice to come here and center ourselves back in Environmental Justice, climate change, those sorts of issues. And I appreciate the opportunity to look at what we’re going to do over the next year or two implementing the MI Healthy Climate Plan.”

Burnand was among more than 900 attendees from local, state, federal, and tribal governments; universities; nonprofits; community groups; businesses; and more from throughout Michigan and beyond at the two-day conference, May 16-17, hosted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

The 2024 MI Healthy Climate Conference was sold-out with 900+ attendees.

The 2024 MI Healthy Climate Conference in Lansing was sold-out with over 900 attendees.


Along with presentations by more than 80 thought leaders and experts representing many sectors, conference-goers heard major announcements from special guests Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.

The Governor announced in her keynote address Friday that the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO) has determined EGLE and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to be State Energy Financing Institutions (SEFI). The announcement marks the launch of the joint EGLE-MEDC SEFI Program and opening of applications for eligible SEFI projects.

This open application calls for large-scale clean energy projects that help implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan goal of 100% carbon neutrality by 2050 while spurring economic development and creating high-quality jobs across the state.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II addresses the 2024 MI Healthy Climate Conference in Lansing.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II speaks Thursday, May 16, at the conference.


The Lieutenant Governor on Thursday announced two new state programs in collaboration with EGLE’s Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate to support community-based organizations, tribal governments, and local governments in leveraging Environmental Justice and climate-related funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA):

  • The Climate Justice Challenge, developed by EGLE’s Office of Climate and Energy (OCE) in coordination with the Michigan Infrastructure Office (MIO), makes up to $11 million in grant and technical assistance funding available to community based organizations (CBOs) through the Make it in Michigan Competitiveness Fund to maximize federal investments in Michigan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants (CCG). These resources will support addressing environmental and climate justice challenges in communities across the state. CBOs across Michigan are now eligible to apply for match funding to support applications to the CCG. More information is available on EGLE’s Community Change Grants webpage.
  • The MI Healthy Climate Justice40 Technical Assistance Program is a 12-month, cohort-based program for community-based organizations to implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan by providing resources they need to serve disadvantaged communities with technical assistance and training to apply for and deploy state and federal climate-related funding. Chosen applicants will receive a participation grant, one-on-one support, training in grant applications and management, and technical assistance in grant writing or other technical needs. The program will open for applications soon. More information will be posted on EGLE's Justice40 Technical Assistance webpage.
    The federal Justice40 Initiative calls for disadvantaged communities to receive at least 40% of the benefits from climate and clean energy projects. The MI Healthy Climate Plan commits to meeting that goal and seeks to exceed it.

EGLE Director Phil Roos addresses the 2024 MI Healthy Climate Conference in Lansing.

EGLE Director Phil Roos opens the conference Thursday to a sold-out audience.


In line with the conference theme of “Accelerating Action,” presenters and exhibitors encouraged attendees to bring home federal climate and clean energy-related funding; focus on health, jobs, and justice; and act on recently enacted historic clean energy legislation and goals in the MI Healthy Climate Plan’s six priority areas:

  • Committing to Environmental Justice and a just transition.
  • Cleaning the electrical grid.
  • Electrifying vehicles and increasing public transit.
  • Repairing and decarbonizing homes and businesses.
  • Driving clean innovation in industry.
  • Protecting Michigan’s land and water.

More than 20 session topics ranged from grounding climate action in science, health, jobs, and justice; to a MI Solar for All preview; to electrifying the state vehicle fleet and decarbonizing Michigan’s ports. Friday morning featured brief “lightning talks” on food waste, Michigan’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, renewable energy siting, and more.

Jenna Warmuth is senior manager for Midwest regional policy at Rewiring America, whose home electrification rebate calculator was the subject of a lightning talk.

“Rewiring America is dedicated to supporting equitable electrification in communities across the country, including right here in Michigan,” Warmuth said. “We're eager to continue working with stakeholders to advance this work on a policy level and by designing localized tools for homeowners and contractors that help make home electrification easier.”

Many also found the conference a great opportunity to network and learn from other organizations.

Danielle Beard, Green Communities coordinator with the Michigan Municipal League, said it was challenging and ultimately motivating.

“Although we absolutely need to accept the severity of the crisis that we’re in, I really appreciate hearing about other state agencies and what they’re doing,” Beard said. “All of the state agencies are pulling in the same direction, and that feels very cool, like there’s a lot more going on than I realize.”

The conference was part of the Great Lakes Green Events initiative by the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, which Governor Whitmer chairs. Through the initiative, EGLE committed to sustainable practices like reducing food waste and eliminating single-use plastics at the conference. Great Lakes Green Events also supports local tree-planting projects, including one in Lansing on Wednesday, May 15, associated with the conference. EGLE Director Phil Roos joined volunteers from EGLE’s MI Healthy Climate Corps to plant trees around the headquarters building of the Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America as part of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Trees Initiative to plant 250 million trees in the region by 2033.

EGLE also hosted workshops on May 15 that brought together EGLE’s Climate Liaisons, representatives from each of EGLE’s 15 offices and divisions who help coordinate implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan; EGLE’s Catalyst Communities initiative to support local governments’ sustainability journeys; and the new MI Healthy Climate Corps initiative to develop an enduring, capable network of climate professionals throughout the state.

MI Healthy Climate Plan background

Governor Whitmer signed executive order 2020-182 and executive directive 2020-10 committing Michigan to achieving economywide carbon neutrality no later than 2050 with interim reductions of 28% by 2025 and 52% by 2030 to ensure steady progress and to maintain net negative greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) after 2050.

The governor charged EGLE and the Council on Climate Solutions with developing a plan to meet these goals. This work culminated in the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The plan positions Michigan as a climate action leader and focuses on actions to spur economic development and create good-paying jobs, lower energy and transportation costs for working families and businesses, work towards energy independence, mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, improve public health, and protect natural resources and wildlife.

Under Governor Whitmer’s leadership, the MI Healthy Climate Plan is a blueprint for moving Michigan forward on greenhouse gas reductions and the forward-looking economic opportunities that can be created in communities across the state.

To keep up on state funding opportunities, events, and climate action initiatives, sign up for Michigan Climate Action and News and Updates emails.