CHANDLER SZYDLOWSKI: Stay alert to legislative action

To the editor:

American taxpayers annually pay $523 billion to cover the domestic, public health, and environmental costs incurred by the use of fossil fuels. At the same time, our government annually subsidizes fossil fuels companies over $500 billion. If these numbers do not cause outrage, then perhaps the proximity to danger might. 

Michigan’s coal plants emit dangerous levels of toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic and chromium. Further, coal plant pollution triggers 68,000 asthma attacks and causes 180 premature deaths every year in “Pure” Michigan. In the wake of the Flint water crisis, public health and environmental efficiency should be top concern for our legislators.

Yet, there is continued pushback against legislation that would address this crisis. The attempt by legislators to weaken the definition of renewable/clean energy is but one example; fossil fuels, nuclear energy, waste incineration, and pumped storage are not renewable energy sources. Energy sources that pollute our air and water (including the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane) and produce radioactive waste should not be considered “clean energy” in Michigan’s laws.

While positive laws such as the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act (Public Act 295) have been enacted, we need to ensure that this progress is supported, continued, and never undermined. Active participation in local, state, and federal government is crucial. I urge others to join me in calling their state legislators and telling them to vote “no” on SB 437-438 which, among other things, would repeal Michigan’s renewable energy standard.

Continued and active participation with your government is the safest and most effective way to ensure your concerns are acknowledged and your health and the environment are protected.

Chandler Szydlowski

Ferris State University

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