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Expert panel reflects on sustained power and impact of Earth Day—as we laud Year 48

Russ White
Liesl Eichler Clark, Kirk Heinze, Saulius Mikalonis, James Clift

It was 48 years ago we celebrated the inaugural Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Created by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, an estimated 20 million folks participated nationwide.  The observance has since become a global phenomenon.  MSU Today is marking Earth Day 2018 with a roundtable conversation among environmental experts working in Michigan— three individuals who have devoted much of their lives to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of our planet.

Liesl Eichler Clark is principal and co-founder of 5 Lakes Energy, a policy consulting firm focused on clean energy and the environment, and president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. James Clift is policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of over 70 organizations across Michigan that focuses on areas ranging from clean energy to environmental justice to wise land and water use. And Saulius Mikalonis is a widely-respected environmental attorney in the Bloomfield Hills office of Plunkett Cooney.

The group discusses some of the major advances we have made on the environmental front since the first Earth Day.  We spend so much time focusing on current problems that we sometimes neglect to reflect on landmark progress made, like the Clean Air Act, Water Quality Improvement Act, Endangered Species Act, the Surface Mine and Reclamation Act, and more.  Sustainability-related issues are now front and center for most organizations; that may be Earth Day’s most significant impact over the years.

The trio provides an update on Michigan's energy portfolio and what we can expect in alternative energy growth and expansion in 2018-2019.

Other topics include DTE’s proposed 1,100 MW natural gas plant in St. Clair County, recent auto emissions and other EPA-related rollbacks, and Great Lakes issues, too, like the latest on Enbridge Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, water withdrawal concerns in the basin and the continuation of federal restoration funding. 

There’s a gubernatorial election in Michigan this November, and the panel also discusses the importance of knowing the environmental policies of each of the main candidates. As with all sustainability-related issues, knowledge is power and each vote counts.  The onus is on each of us to stay informed and engaged, perhaps more so now than ever.

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.

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