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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Who’s for the birds?

Prop 3 supporters met with opposition

by Sam Inglot
A Prop 3 opponent is concerned about the birds: \\

Monday, Oct. 1 — Proposal 3 supporters gathered for a press conference today at a Lansing park to announce more groups in favor of the statewide renewable energy ballot proposal — and were met by about a dozen protesters.


Proposal 3, also known as the 25x25 plan, would require that 25 percent of Michigan’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2025.


Counter protesters with the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition, which is based in southeast Michigan, are not in favor of wind turbines. As protesters intermingled with Prop 3 supporters, they complained that the turbines were noisy and were eyesores. They also made a point to interrupt speakers with complaints about the turbines killing bats and birds.


The press conference was held at Moore’s Park, on the south side of the Grand River across from the Lansing Board of Water & Light’s coal-fired Otto E. Eckert power plant, the three chimneys an easily identifiable piece of Lansing’s landscape.


IICC President Josh Van Camp said “tens if not hundreds of communities” could be affected by the construction of wind turbines and said the proposal would increase energy costs. Supporters point to ballot language that says the proposal “shall not” increase rates for consumers by more than 1 percent a year.


One faux-turbine, carried by a counter protester, had fake blood and dead bats dangling from the turbine blades.


“It’s a proposal the state can’t afford when we’re trying to make energy cheaper,” Van Camp said.”


Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs organized the event, which featured speakers from several national and statewide environmental coalitions like the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, the Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan League of Conservation voters.


“Wind technology has advanced remarkably,” said Ryan Werder, political director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. He said the placement of turbines takes into account migratory patterns of birds and bats. He said the league would never support an endeavor that would cause great harm to wildlife.


Mercury poisoning is one of the biggest killers of birds, he added, and that a lot of the mercury that birds are exposed to come from coal burning power plants.


“If we’re serious about saving wildlife, then the best way to do that would be to replace mercury emissions with emission-free energy sources,” he said.


The proposal opens the door for energy to be generated not just by wind turbines, but also solar photovoltaics, anaerobic digesters and biomass. Supporters have recently touted potential job benefits, which a Michigan State University-led report from last month — commissioned by the Michigan Environmental Council — pegged at nearly 75,000 new jobs.


The Clean Affordable Renewable Energy coalition, a statewide group that includes labor and business groups and utilities, leads the main opposition to the plan.


See here for more on the proposal.

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