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Local News

Whitmer expands MI Clean Water Plan, while enviros call for more clean energy investments



As construction workers at the Delta Township Wastewater recovery facility continued efforts to expand the facility, state officials announced they would be investing an additional $290 million into wastewater infrastructure throughout the state.

Using authority from the 2002 Great Lakes Water Quality Protection Bond, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, House Appropriations Committee Chair Angela Witwer (D-Delta Twp.) and Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Director Phil Roos, said the additional funding would be used to help update aging infrastructure, improve water quality and protect public health. 

The $290 million for expanding MI Clean Water Plan would support 4,350 jobs, Whitmer said at the press conference on Monday, which is Earth Day. 

“These resources will be used for a wide variety of aspects like repairing wastewater treatment plants, upgrading sewers, removing lead service lines and replacing water mains,” Whitmer said. 

Whitmer cited the Delta Township plant as an example of a facility that had benefited from state support, with the plant almost reaching capacity before construction on the expansion began. 

“Without state support to expand the facility, it would not have been able to meet the demands of continued growth in the township. There are countless stories and facilities just like this one but all over Michigan. Most of our state’s water systems are more than 50 years old and many approaching a century [of] service life,” Whitmer said. 

In addition to announcing the MI Clean Water Plan funding, Whitmer also touted previous investments her administration has made in water infrastructure. 

“Since I took office, we’ve invested over $4 billion, including the MI Clean water plan to upgrade drinking water infrastructure, remove lead service lines and reducing toxic contaminants. These investment investments have supported almost 60,000 jobs,” Whitmer said. 

On top of these investments, Whitmer pointed to new laws screening school children for lead, ensuring access to clean drinking water at schools and childcare centers, and supporting clean energy efforts within the state

While Whitmer anticipated continued investments into water infrastructure needs through the Fiscal Year 2025 state budget, various environmental and clean organizations shared their hopes for additional funding in clean energy, home weatherization, electric vehicles and public transit. 

Members of the Michigan Environmental Council, Clean Fuels Michigan, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Transportation Riders United, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and the Ecology Center shared their list of budget priorities, citing an increased need for funding following the passage of a number of clean energy laws last year, as well as the state’s efforts to grow its population. 

“The historic clean energy legislation that passed last year must be matched with investments in the state budget,” Derrell Slaughter, Michigan policy director for climate and energy at NRDC said in a statement. “The funding will empower the public service commission to efficiently and equitably transition to renewable and other clean energy sources, ensuring all Michiganders fully benefit.”

Megan Owens, executive director for Transportation Riders United noted the inclusion of public transition as a priority in the MI Healthy Climate Plan, as well as one of the Growing Michigan Together Council’s recommendations for attracting young talent to Michigan. 

“Both the MI Healthy Climate Plan and Growing Michigan together Council recognize that expanding public transit is critical to meeting our state’s climate commitments and our population growth goals. That requires expanded appropriations,” Owens said.

The full list of funding asks

Funding for Michigan’s 100% clean energy standard

  • $6 million to hire 30 full-time employees to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

 Funding for clean buildings

  • $100 million in whole home retrofits to cover needed investments in low-income housing for weatherization, minor home repair, safety upgrades, toxin remediation, adding energy efficient electric appliances, installation of roof-top solar and residential battery back-up systems
  • Optimizing the 15% Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program allocation to the Weatherization Assistance Program
  • Supporting and expanding energy efficiency and building electrification workforce development across the state with $30 million in state and federal funds

Funding for clean mobility and transportation

  • $50 million to provide grants to municipalities, transit authorities and ports to replace medium and heavy-duty fleet vehicles with emission-free alternatives such as EVs
  • $2 million for the state of Michigan to transition to electric vehicles
  • $65 million in funding to build out the state’s EV charging infrastructure in under-invested locations
  • $120 million in the budget for the Michigan Department of Transportation including:
    • $60 million for Local Bus Operating
    • $30 million for rail operations and infrastructure
    • $30 million for the Transportation Alternatives Program
    • $8 million in funding for electric bikes

This article is republished from the the Michigan Advance under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.