Snyder gives hope for energy proposal

Just three weeks after Michiganians voted down a proposal to etch renewable energy requirements in the Michigan Constitution, Gov. Rick Snyder maintained the importance of resetting energy standard goals, but said this time, it should be under the oversight of the legislature.

“We do need to set new goals as we approach 2015, but let’s set them together,” he said. “Let’s kick off that process to promote open dialogue.”

Snyder spoke Wednesday morning at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, an MSU research field station near Kalamazoo, Mich., to set goals for next year in Michigan’s energy industry, emphasizing efficiency, reliability and affordability in setting realistic standards for the future.

Although the governor agreed it is important to set energy standards, as Proposal 3 suggested, he said any enacted energy policy needs to be adaptable to changing circumstances and technologies.

Proposal 3 would have amended the Michigan Constitution to require utility companies to provide 25 percent of their sales from renewable energy by 2025.

It failed on Nov. 6, with 62 percent of voters voting “no” and 38 percent voting “yes.”

MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum said in a previous interview that setting a statewide standard for energy use would keep Michigan up with energy innovations, something MSU’s “much more aggressive” Energy Transition Plan is working on at the university level.

The plan, which the Board of Trustees approved in April, requires MSU to operate on 40 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Snyder said 2013 should be spent reviewing energy and environmental policies to develop a long-term plan in the legislature instead of on the ballot “the way we should.”

He plans to invest in further studies from the Kellogg Biological Station and other Michigan institutions to continue monitoring Michigan’s environment and energy use in the future.

MSU Vice President for Finance and Operations Fred Poston, who was approved as the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ new dean last month, said the governor’s investment in the center’s research bodes well for its future operation.

“I think we’re going to be well served by these issues,” Poston said.

MSU Greenpeace Campus Coordinator Jordan Lindsay said she thought the problem many people had with Proposal 3 wasn’t that it set a standard, but rather that it would be written into the constitution.

“We do know the problems from using fossil fuels; I don’t think anyone is arguing that,” Lindsay said.

Still, any type of policy passed statewide requires considerably more work than passing a policy through the Board of Trustees, and alternative energy likely will continue to be a frequent discussion item, she said.

Snyder said although Michigan faces other tax and budget issues, now is the time to be proactive on energy policy and develop a long-term solution.

“If you know me well enough, I don’t like to see people talk too long,” he said. “There’s too much talk and not enough action.”

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