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Bell ringers! Environmental successes won in recent weeks

In each issue of the Michigan Environmental Report, we celebrate accomplishments by MEC and member groups.
Compost: Not trash! 
A State Senate committee rejected legislation to rescind Michigan’s ban on lawn clippings in landfills in a 5-4 vote Nov. 5. The legislation would have crippled the composting industry and deprived landscapers and homeowners of Michigan-made nutrient-dense compost. The bill also would have forced Michigan to accept out of state trash when comingled with grass clippings or other compostable garden material (currently banned in Michigan’s landfills). MEC opposed this bill vigorously and testified against it, as we have every session since 2007. It is, however, a bittersweet victory for business owners who need to make decisions regarding new employees and capital investments in their operations, but must worry every year of being undercut by the State Legislature. 

We knew this 
The first reports from Gov. Rick Snyder’s energy fact-finding hearings throughout Michigan have come in, and they reaffirm the positive news we have been reporting for five years. The report on renewable energy, released by the Michigan Public Service Commission and Michigan Energy Office, concludes we can generate 30 percent of our electricity from clean sources by 2035. They note renewable energy costs have been halved since 2009 and are cheaper than almost all other available electricity generation sources. Importantly, they note Michigan can maintain its excellent grid reliability with the increased renewable energy. The governor is expected to make his recommendations regarding Michigan’s future investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency standards late this year or early next. 

Half a loaf 
New rules on natural gas hydraulic fracturing operations proposed in October by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are positive steps toward modernizing the state’s safeguards. New baseline water quality testing is a welcome improvement to our current regulations. MEC will work with the department to refine the proposals and evaluate other opportunities to move forward on better protecting Michigan’s water resources. In addition to water quality concerns, our current efforts in concert with our member groups are focused on better water withdrawal guidelines, more transparency, and input for local communities among other items. With current wells now using and permanently contaminating up to 400 times as much fresh water as previous wells, regulations need to be strengthened to reflect the increased risk.
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