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Michigan Environmental Council provides voice for Michigan's natural resources

Hugh McDiarmid Jr talks with Kirk Heinze on WJR and WDBM

Written by Lauren Mehringer

Hugh McDiarmid Jr., the communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council and former environmental reporter for the Detroit Free Press, talks about how Michigan’s natural resources can be used to promote environmental and economic change.

McDiarmid believes that the biggest environmental changes come through public policy. Fortunately, former governor Jennifer M. Granholm has paved the way for new clean energy policies to grow.
“During the last 6 or 8 years, one of the only sectors of Michigan’s economy to grow was the Clean Energy sector.” McDiarmid says. “You see wind turbines being built and manufactured in Michigan …  You see a lot of good solar industries expanding or locating in Michigan.”

McDiarmid supports solar and wind energy because they creates jobs and reduce out-of-state expenditures on coal and oil.

Governer Rick Snyder is also a strong advocate for clean energy, leaving many environmentalists, McDiarmid included, optimistic.

“Clean energy development in our state puts money in the pockets of Michiganders.” he says.

McDiarmid  addresses the need to shift away from fossil fuels for the sake of the economy and energy independence. Michigan’s Renewable Energy Standard, for example, requires electric providers to generate at least ten percent of their energy from clean sources.

While developing new green technologies is important, McDiarmid also believes that sustaining the resources we have is just as big of an issue - particularly the Great Lakes.

“We have 95 percent of the nation’s fresh surface water, and 18 percent of the world’s fresh surface water.” he says. “It’s incumbent upon us to protect those lakes, not only for our own health and quality of life … but to show the rest of the world how it’s done.”

Perhaps an even bigger issue – globally speaking – is climate change. After researching the topic, McDiarmid shares his views on the topic.

“I came to my own conclusion that climate change is real. A significant portion of it is caused by manmade emissions, and it’s going to cause some really serious consequences for future generations.” he says.

Though there are many complex environmental issues that need to be addressed, McDiarmid says the average homeowner can make changes in his or her life that will have an impact.

“Individual actions matter… reduce your consumption of fossil fuels…be good stewards of the water, be careful about how you fertilize your lawn because that stuff runs off into streams.” he explains. “It’s even perhaps more important, though, to get involved in the political process where the big decisions are made … you’d be surprised how much a handwritten letter to your state representative or U. S. Senator will be worth.”

Click on the arrow above to hear McDiarmid's February 27 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk HeinzeGreening of the Great Lakes airs Sunday evenings at 9 on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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