This election season, Michigan may turn out to be one of the most important states for renewable energy in the U.S.
In November, voters will have the chance to vote on a constitutional amendment that will increase Michigan’s renewable electricity targets from 10 percent by 2015 to 25 percent by 2025.
Now, a new poll finds that a majority of Michiganders support increasing renewable energy in the state. According to a survey of likely voters conducted by a variety of news outlets in the state, 55 percent would vote “yes” for more clean energy.
Adam Browning, Executive Director of the Vote Solar Initiative, explains the significance of the Michigan ballot initiative:
A good win here can have a civilizing effect on the national dialogue. Over the past year, renewable energy has been politicized to an extent never before seen. In Michigan, renewables have bi-partisan support. Saul Anuzis, former chair of the Michigan GOP, wrote an extraordinary letter of support, making the conservative case for the cause (it’s a must-read). A good showing will help demonstrate that polarization is bad politics.
Finally, success begets success, and this can help pave the way for wins elsewhere. Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Americans want to see a transition to renewable energy. Indeed, a good clean energy ballot initiative has never lost — voters in Colorado, Washington, and Missiouri all passed state renewable standards, despite being outspent by opponents. When the people lead, politicians will eventually follow.
A number of groups, including Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, have vowed to weaken or repeal state-level renewable energy targets.
However, this is inconsistent with what people actually want. According to a poll from the nonpartisan Civil Society Institute, 76 percent of Americans say they support “a reduction in our reliance on nuclear power, natural gas and coal, and instead, launch a national initiative to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
In addition, 77 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “The energy industry’s extensive and well-financed public relations, campaign contributions and lobbying machine is a major barrier to moving beyond business as usual when it comes to America’s energy policy.”