News Story

Shivering in the Dark? Sierra Club Opposes 91 Percent of Michigan Electricity

Natural gas, coal and nuclear make this state's lights go on

The Sierra Club environmental organization opposes the three sources of energy responsible for 91 percent of the electricity generated in Michigan. It has been outspoken in its stance against the use of natural gas, coal and nuclear power to generate electricity for Michigan households and businesses.

Michigan generates 32 percent of its electricity by burning coal and another 32 percent comes from nuclear power plants. Natural gas accounts for another 27 percent of electricity generation. Wind and solar account for less than 7 percent of net electricity generation in this state.

“The Sierra Club opposes, or is pushing to phase out, over 90 percent of the energy resources that we depend on for our lives and well-being,” said Jason Hayes, the director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

“They ‘prefer’ or don’t ‘categorically oppose’ the development of limited, low- or no-impact, renewable resources that provide far less than 10 percent of our current energy demand,” Hayes continued. “However, they put heavy restrictions on how the ‘preferred’ energy options can be developed or used.”

Hayes said if 90 percent of the state’s energy is shut off, it would have catastrophic impacts on human life. “You limit almost every aspect of human life and progress — the ability to work and earn a living, medicine, food production, heating and cooling, transportation, etc.,” Hayes said.

Gail Philbin, the director of the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Sierra Club’s national coal spokesman Ricky Junquera didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.

The Sierra Club's website states: "We have a vision of a world powered by clean energy, where dirty and dangerous fossil fuels are a thing of the past and everyone can enjoy cleaner air and water thanks to renewable energy resources."

The Sierra Club has a webpage devoted to natural gas titled, “DIRTY, DANGEROUS, AND RUN AMOK.”

The Sierra Club has championed shutting down coal plants across the country.

The organization's page on nuclear power says this: “The Sierra Club remains unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy.” The Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune called nuclear power “dangerous” in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute objected to the Sierra Club’s statement that nuclear power is dangerous.

“Our nation’s nuclear energy facilities are in fact very safe,” said Tom Kauffman, the director of media relations for the Nuclear Energy Institute. “After more than 60 years of commercial nuclear energy production in the United States, including over 3,900 reactor-years of operation, there have been no radiation-related health effects linked to their operation. Studies by the National Cancer Institute and The United Nations Scientific Committee of the Effects of Atomic Radiation show that U.S. nuclear power plants effectively protect the public’s health and safety. Nuclear plants also are safe for workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is safer to work at a nuclear plant than at a fast food restaurant, a grocery store or in real estate.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.