By: Kindra Weid, Michigan Supermom, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: February 8, 2022
About: MI Healthy Climate Plan
To: Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Council on Climate Solutions
Hello. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to provide public comments on the draft MI Healthy Climate Plan.
My name is Kindra Weid, and I am the Coalition Coordinator for MI Air MI Health. We are a coalition of health professionals that advocates for clean, healthy air across Michigan. We do this by educating about the downstream public health impacts from three major sources of toxic air pollution and climate warming emissions: energy production, transportation, and industry & buildings.
Public health and climate are uniquely interconnected and so much of the work on climate has downstream impacts on public health. We are pleased to see that EGLE recognizes these connections and has incorporated some public health language into the draft plan, but we would like to see it located more centrally.
In addition to these comments, a letter will be submitted with recommendations of how public health can be more thoroughly integrated into the plan. For now, I would like to specifically focus on public health and energy production in the draft plan.
We commend the plan on its goals to advance clean, renewable energy across the state through different sectors; however, the climate crisis warrants a more rapid transition. We recommend setting a goal for 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, not by 2050. Clean, renewable energy decreases climate warming emissions, but also has the co-benefit of reducing harmful air pollution- both directly linked to public health.
The plan highlights the central role of the Michigan Public Service Commission in regulatory oversight of energy production. Regarding the MPSC, the plan states, “A central component of that role is approving the costs or investments that Michigan’s regulated utilities can recoup from their customers via the amounts charged on their monthly bills.” We argue that regulated utilities' contributions to climate warming emissions and the negative health impacts of the toxic air pollution they emit should also be factored into this equation.
We feel these costs should be considered with the same weight that capacity and reliability are considered by the MPSC in their oversight of integrated resource planning. We recommend that the MI Healthy Climate Plan includes the requirement of a health impact assessment into all integrated resource planning processes. This would help to calculate the human health and climate impacts of proposed energy production by our regulated utilities. We argue that what is viewed by regulators as “reasonable and prudent” should not only include considerations of GHG emissions reductions, of which we applaud, but also the public health impacts of all energy production.
Along these lines, a health in all policies approach would include the Department of Health and Human Resources into this plan. We recommend outreach and coordination with MDHHS into your list of other collaborating state programs.
Thank you for your time and attention today. And thank you, Governor Whitmer and EGLE, for taking bold action on climate.