This piece was written by Wibke Rebecca Bettina Heymach (Vee), MCAF Field Organizer in Southeast Michigan:
As parents, we know that our number one priority is the health and well-being of our children. In order to protect them, we have to ensure that our voices are continuously heard and we remain actively engaged to speak on their behalf.
In November, Michigan residents will have the chance to vote on a ballot initiative to strengthen our state’s Renewable Energy Standard to 25% by the year 2025. That means by the year 2025, 25% percent of our energy will come from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, hydropower and biofuels. The current standard in Michigan requires 10% by 2015. While 10% was an important first step, it is nowhere near enough. It has however, created the infrastructure necessary to support a stronger standard by 2025.
Why do Michigan parents think is it important to have a stronger renewable energy standard? Currently sixty percent of Michigan’s energy comes from dirty coal and sadly, all of that coal is imported from other states. Coal-fired power plants create pollution. By ensuring that 25% of our energy comes from renewable sources, our Great Lakes will have less mercury pollution. Women are told that during their pregnancy they should avoid fish due to high mercury levels that are dangerous to the fetus. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that harms the developing brains, hearts and lungs of fetuses, babies and toddlers. If we can reduce the amount of mercury in our Great Lakes, the health and well-being of children will be more protected.
25%x’25 also means lower asthma rates in children and adults alike. Asthma is the number one reason that children miss school. Here in Grand Rapids, it is not uncommon for a child with asthma to have multiple emergency room visits. Coal-fired power plants have been identified as one of the largest exasperators of asthma, especially in children, whose respiratory systems are much more vulnerable than adults. Less coal-fired power plant emissions will also lower the risk of lung disease and heart attacks.
As parents, we know that there are many things that we want to protect our children from. We can often act preventatively: by buying better food and safer products. We cannot however buy better air. This initiative gives us the ability to act: to create a healthier environment for our children and our communities as a whole. Moms Clean Air Force loves the idea that by the year 2025, 25% of our energy will come from clean renewable sources. Clean energy means cleaner air and healthier children.