Big investment in workforce training and clean fuel technology is the way to spur growth in Michigan, according to a coalition of more than 25 organizations and businesses.
Hundreds of millions of dollars left over from the American Rescue Plan has still not been allocated by the GOP-led Legislature. The groups are calling on lawmakers to put $600 million toward electric vehicle charging and upgrading buses and fleet vehicles to cleaner-burning fuels.
Some of the groups, like Roush CleanTech and the Michigan Propane Gas Association, have vested interests in a massive influx of money to support these industries, while others like the Michigan chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America see a reduction in tailpipe emissions as a way to improve air quality.
“So our call to action is to act now. Federal conversations are in flux and we don’t want to wait and be beholden to anything that happens at the federal level.” –Jane McCurry, Clean Fuels Michigan
Frank Houston is with the BlueGreen Alliance, which promotes cooperation between environmental advocates and business interests. He says the switch to cleaner energy sources shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
“Keeping these jobs in Michigan and transitioning for honestly our biggest industry for generations to come isn’t a Democrat issue,” he says. “It isn’t a Republican issue. It’s an issue of survival and common sense.”
Carbon dioxide is still released when propane burns, but there is a significant drop in the toxic particulates contribute to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Jane McCurry — the executive director of Clean Fuels Michigan, a group that promotes switching transportation over to renewable energy – says a quick transition to less-polluting fuel will help Michigan’s economy while making it safer.
“The industry is changing and we need these investments now,” McCurry says. “Not only will these investments safeguard jobs but make the air cleaner to breathe [and] will make our Great Lakes cleaner to swim in.”
McCurry says the money from the American Rescue Plan is just sitting there, and state lawmakers shouldn’t wait for Congress to approve more money.
“This is Michigan specific money that the Michigan Legislature has control over and that they’re deciding how to invest this fall,” she says. “So our call to action is to act now. Federal conversations are in flux and we don’t want to wait and be beholden to anything that happens at the federal level.”
The Biden Administration’s Build Back Better infrastructure plan has stalled in the Senate, held up in the Senate by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and opposed by all Republicans.