Environment in the State of the State

  • Governor Rick Snyder gives his State of the State address. (Photo courtesy of gophouse.com)

In his first State of the State address last night, Governor Rick Snyder made it clear that jobs are his first priority.

But he also made several announcements on conservation and park projects and the Pure Michigan tourism campaign.
He announced that his budget recommendation will include annual funding of $25 million for the Pure Michigan tourism campaign.

“This program supports one of our strongest assets – our water resources and the treasures of the Great Lakes, and it’s an illustration of value for money. It’s positive for our image, and it’s positive return on our tax dollars.”

And he urged the legislature to quickly pass a bill that would implement the recommendations of the Natural Resources Trust Fund board. The board has recommended that $100 million be used to buy land for conservation and parks.

“These projects will positively impact every corner of our state. From Iron County in the Upper Peninsula to Traverse City, to Luna Pier in Monroe County. Also included is a significant expansion of the William T Milliken Park on the Detroit riverfront.”

In his address, Governor Snyder called the Great Lakes “economic engines.”


Ryan Werder is the political director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. He says he’s hopeful that the legislature will follow through on some of the governor’s requests.

“I was on the floor for his speech and on a number of these proposals, the vast majority of them, everybody was standing up. I think natural resources and our environment are a place where everybody in Michigan and everybody on that floor can work together.”

But there was one proposal Werder wasn’t so sure about.

Governor Snyder asked the legislature to strengthen the current program of voluntary environmental standards that’s in place for farmers.

“So that farmers who run environmentally sound operations are protected from unnecessary regulations and frivolous lawsuits. (applause)”

Ryan Werder says he’s not sure Snyder’s plan will be entirely positive.

“How it actually works in practice is a different story. It’s not enough to say to people we trust you to not pollute. We need to actually ensure that they are not.”

The Farm Bureau released a statement after the address. It said that the governor’s approval of voluntary standards would encourage more farmers to comply with the program.


This is the Environment Report.
Companies trying to generate renewable energy with wind are facing opposition up north.

There are no wind farms yet along the coast of Lake Michigan. But large energy companies are planning them near Ludington and Frankfort. Peter Payette reports:

To fit enough wind turbines in one area, developers are proposing to put some as close as a thousand feet to nearby homes.

Some neighbors say the peace and quiet of the countryside will be destroyed by large windmills swooshing around.
They want local governments to require more than a mile between homes and wind farms.

Developers say problems like noise are greatly exaggerated by people who want to ban large wind turbines altogether.

Allan O’Shea represented Duke Energy at a public forum recently.
He said rural areas and farmers who lease their land for turbines will gain a lot from wind energy.

“Our farmers bring us much of our open space and much of our beauty and they have a right to this new kind of architecture that is farming the wind.”

Some local governments in the region have put moratoriums on the construction of wind farms to study the issues.

For the Environment Report, I’m Peter Payette.

RW: Last week, Consumers Energy filed for a permit to build a wind farm south of Ludington. Consumers says it’s planning to build 56 turbines there.

That’s the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.