How California learned to stop worrying and embrace fossil fuels
If sunny California can’t run on solar panels, why would anyone think cloudy Michigan can?
As Michigan jumps headlong into so-called clean energy, led by wind turbines and solar panels, our leaders should take heed from events in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom took the Golden State pretty far down that path, but he is reversing course and embracing fossil fuels in a time of need.
How did Newsom learn to stop worrying and embrace old-fashioned dirty energy? Necessity and emergency.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom campaigned on shutting down Aliso Canyon, a gas storage facility that was the site of the largest methane leak in U.S. history.
Now, five years later, his administration is poised to inject even more gas into the sandstone chamber 8,500 feet beneath north Los Angeles in a bid to stave off energy price spikes and power shortages.
He’s also blessed extensions of gas and nuclear power plants that were scheduled to be closed. Keeping the lights on takes precedence over California’s clean energy goals, at least for now.
Read that last sentence again. Read it twice if you’re one of the 150 elected officials who run Lansing: “Keeping the lights on takes precedence over California’s clean energy goals, at least for now.”
In Michigan, meanwhile, the plan for our energy transition is to leap before we look. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging lawmakers to formalize her administration’s goal of 100% reliance on clean energy. Whitmer set the goal last year in the MI Healthy Climate Plan. She announced plans to make it state law in her recent “What’s next?” address.
Sometimes, when politicians speak of clean energy, they include nuclear along with wind and solar. This time, Whitmer did not, and the bill she touts, Senate Bill 271, is similarly confused in its stance toward nuclear.
Prior to 2034, nuclear is not considered clean.
From 2035 on, nuclear would be considered clean.
State Rep. Samantha Steckloff, D-Farmington Hills, told CapCon via Twitter that nuclear is indeed in the Democrats’ clean energy plan. That is good news.
But nuclear is not an overnight proposition. Even if a proposed nuclear plant has the full support of state and federal politicians, still wouldn’t be open until 2035. Lansing’s word games draw attention away from the seriousness of the matter: If Michigan has to run on wind turbines and solar panels, it won’t run.
There is no need for Whitmer and ten million Michiganders to learn this lesson for ourselves. All we need to do is look at California. When Gavin Newsom wanted to keep the lights on and preserve his political future, he embraced fossil fuels.
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.