Snyder plan favors natural gas, renewables study

Associated Press Modified: November 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm •  Published: November 28, 2012
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"We need timelines that will let us look seriously at transitioning existing plants to this fuel, a commitment to pipeline infrastructure and a stable, environmentally protective set of regulations that allow companies to create a business plan built around new natural gas supplies," he said. "Michigan has done what it can in leading the way on this issue. We will do whatever we can to help our federal partners develop and implement a consistent strategy in short order."

Snyder said he had instructed the Department of Natural Resources and the Public Service Commission to work with private industry on development of the natural gas reserve.

Presently, when Michigan leases rights to drill for gas on public land, it takes immediate payments in cash from production companies. But under the reserve initiative, the state would keep some of the gas in storage and sell it to suppliers under long-term contracts that could help keep winter heating prices down.

The governor's plan also envisions a continued role for coal-based energy, even as the Obama administration has imposed regulations on coal-fired plants that limit their emissions of mercury and heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. Snyder announced an agreement between Wolverine Electric Cooperative and We Energies to install new pollution prevention equipment that will enable the coal-burning Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette to continue operating.

"Because of this deal, Michigan has a key building block in place to ensure the reliability and power supply we need," he said. "We will also retain a key contributor to the U.P.'s tax base and 170 Michigan jobs. Moreover, We Energies' customers in Michigan and Wisconsin who were facing increases in costs to solve this problem will pay less, not more, to fix this problem."

Snyder's plan also includes a lengthy list of environmental proposals, including more linkups in Michigan's extensive trail network and a strategic approach to land ownership where the state would sell some properties while acquiring others. State agencies are developing a plan to encourage growth of the timber industry, and Snyder said he will ask lawmakers to approve bills to reduce blight in urban areas while stepping up investment in redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites.

He pledged further efforts to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species and told the AP he was standing by the state's policy requiring cargo ships that discharge ballast water at Michigan ports to install equipment that would kill exotic mussels, fish and other organisms. State government will form a council to study how users can withdraw large volumes from waterways without doing ecological damage, he said.

"We will work to set up the kind of environmental protections that allow us to adapt to changing conditions, and make sure our environment is healthy and resilient," he said.

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Follow John Flesher at https://twitter.com/JohnFlesher

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