Props and disses
Our take on the renewable energy standard, emergency managers and the other state ballot questions
Published: November 1, 2012
So it's up to us, we the people, to make Michigan a leader in alternative energy.
Don't believe the television commercials that are trying to scare voters into believing that passing Prop. 3 is going to place a $12 billion burden on consumers. There are protections built into the measure that limit cost increases associated with the green energy standard to no more than 1 percent a year. Additionally, more flexibility has been built into the proposal, allowing the timeline to be extended if costs associated with renewable energy threaten to rise above 1 percent.
A study conducted for the coalition backing the proposal — a group that includes the Sierra Club and the Michigan Environmental Council — found that the measure is likely to cost residential customers only about 50 cents a month, and certainly not more than $1.
That's an incredibly small price to pay for reducing the state's dependence on what is the dominant fuel used to produce our electricity — coal. The fossil fuel fouls the environment and causes severe health problems — especially for the poor and minorities most likely to live near a power plant.
Coal is also a major source of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
Hurricane Sandy should be a wake-up call for everyone, providing terrifying evidence of what the future holds if the world doesn't act quickly to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we're pumping into the atmosphere.
This is Michigan's opportunity to its part to address a problem facing the entire planet.
That said, this proposal is imperfect. Along with promoting wind, solar and hydro power, it also includes biomass as a form of green energy. Anyone at all familiar with Detroit's waste-to-energy incinerator — a facility considered "green" under this proposal — realizes how wrong that it.
However, such facilities, as Detroit's incinerator has clearly shown, are simply not cost-effective in any way. So it is highly unlikely we'll see a rush to build more of them.
What will see is an abundance of is high-tech wind turbines. That's because, when it comes to wind potential, Michigan is among the best-suited states in the nation.
Unlike coal, which keeps electricity costly even after the facilities burning it have been paid for, wind turbines essentially produce energy for free once the initial investment has been paid off, setting the stage for costs to actually going down instead of rising ever higher.
There are other benefits as well. Supporters of the proposal say that as many as 96,000 good-paying jobs will be created in Michigan if this proposal passes.
Despite some potential problems and concerns, on the whole the benefits of this proposal far outweigh any drawbacks.
Because of that, and because of all that's at stake, we think that it is entirely appropriate to ensure Michigan becomes one of the greenest states in the nation by placing the 25 by '25 standard in our constitution.
We recommend a yes vote.
Home health care
This proposal, as described by the nonprofit Citizens Research Council (CRC), would amend the state constitution to establish a Michigan Quality Home Care Council and "affirm limited collective bargaining rights for about 42,000 home health care workers," a group currently earning about $8 an hour.
As a result of a lawsuit filed against the state by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) a federal judge issued an injunction keeping in place the protections offered in the current contract covering these workers until the agreement expires in February 2013.
The proposal, the CRC explains, "would establish a statewide registry of home health care aides and enshrine home health care workers' collective bargaining rights in the state constitution."
Contrary to what is being claimed in television ads supporting the proposal, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Michigan and the watchdogs at its "Truth Squad," it would not "ensure higher wages for home aides." Neither would it ensure better training; the proposal, if passed, would only provide an opportunity for these workers to upgrade their skills.
The Truth Squad's claim is reinforced by the Citizen's Research Council, which reports that, "Providers are not required to avail themselves of the training opportunities; program participants are not required to select providers from the registry ..." that would be created.
In its analysis of the proposal, the CRC notes that the state's Home Health Care Program will remain in place regardless of what voters decide on Nov. 6.
"... the program that pays for home health aides depends on federal and state funding, not on the bargaining rights or union affiliation of, nor payment of union dues by, home health care aides."
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