There has been very little innovative thinking on energy policy by political leaders in Michigan in recent years. The status of energy policy in the state could best be described as: let's just follow the pack by pursing alternative energy and green jobs. How has that worked out for us? Not very well as Michigan continues to lose population and jobs with the state's unemployment rate the second highest in the nation. Studies coming out of Europe have shown government mandates and subsidies to promote alternative energy come at a high price both in terms of higher energy costs and loss of jobs in other sectors of the economy.
The first thing a new Michigan governor should consider is to do no more harm. The following actions would be a good place to start:
- Rescind Gov. Jennifer Granholm's executive order that places a moratorium on new coal fired power plants. New clean coal fired power plants that replace outdated existing plants would be good for the environment and important to producing the affordable energy that is critical to a manufacturing state like Michigan.
- Withdraw Michigan from the Midwest Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. With cap-and-trade legislation on life support at the federal level it, would be kin to economic suicide for Michigan to sacrifice its economic competiveness by implementing recommendations found in the initiative.
- Repeal the requirement that 10 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources. In a study by the Institute for Energy Research titled "Energy Regulation in the States: A Wake-up Call," the researchers found that states like Michigan with a binding renewable energy portfolio standard have on average 40 percent higher electricity costs.
Michigan must play to its strengths of abundant natural resources, a well trained work force and a manufacturing complex with unused capacity if the state hopes to become economically competitive once again. Michigan's leaders should play to these advantages by encouraging policies that promote the orderly development of natural resources as well as reliable and affordable energy. Pursing the green jobs agenda will only lead to further economic decline in the state.