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E-M:/ News Release: "Carbon Boom" Report Show Michigan's Global Warming Pollution Up 46% from 1960-2001

Environment Michigan Research & Policy Center

(The new home for PIRGIM’s environmental work)


For Immediate Release: June 20, 2006, 10:00am

Contact: Jason Barbose, 734-662-9797


New Report: Michigan Global Warming Pollution Up 46% Since 1960

Call for Controls on Power Plants, Cars – the main culprits


Wyandotte, MI—Global warming pollution in Michigan jumped 46% while almost doubling nationally between 1960 and 2001, according to The Carbon Boom, a new analysis of government data released today by the Environment Michigan Research & Policy Center.  Increased coal emissions and oil emissions were responsible for 21% and 31% of this increase, respectively.


“When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging.  To protect future generations from the effects of global warming, we need to stop this trend of increasing pollution,” said Jason Barbose, field organizer for Environment Michigan. 


The report calls for increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and curbing coal-fired power plants, two hot topics in Michigan.  Existing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies could substantially reduce global warming pollution, but federal and state government have so far rejected mandatory pollution limits.


Using data compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Environment Michigan’s new report examines trends in carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel combustion nationally and by state between 1960 and 2001, the most recent year for which state-by-state data are available.  Major findings of the report include:


·         Michigan emitted 129.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 1960; by 2001, the state’s emissions had grown to 189.1 million metric tons, an increase of 46%. 


·         Nationwide, emissions of carbon dioxide nearly doubled between 1960 and 2001, jumping from 2.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 1960 to almost 5.7 billion metric tons in 2001, an increase of 95 percent.


·         A dramatic growth in oil combustion in the transportation sector and coal combustion for electricity generation fueled the rapid increase in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions between 1960 and 2001.  Increased coal and oil combustion each accounted for 40% of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions.


·         In Michigan, increased oil combustion – largely to fuel cars and light trucks – accounted for 31% of the state’s increase in carbon dioxide emissions from 1960 to 2001.  Vehicle travel increased dramatically over the period, while the fuel efficiency of U.S. vehicles stalled in the late 1980s.  The number of miles driven on Michigan roads increased from 32,608 million in 1960 to 98,987 million in 2001, an increase of 136%.   Increased combustion of coal and natural gas contributed 21% and 48%, respectively, of the state’s growth in emissions from 1960 to 2001.


The early effects of global warming are evident in Michigan and worldwide.  According to NASA, 2005 was the warmest year ever recorded.  Left unchecked, global warming threatens to substantially raise sea levels, cause more frequent and extreme droughts and heat waves, and lower Great Lakes water levels.


The U.S. could substantially reduce its global warming pollution by using existing technologies to make power plants and cars more efficient and increase the use of clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass, noted Barbose.  “These are win, win solutions because they also would reduce our dependence on oil, reduce air pollution, protect pristine places from oil drilling and mining, and save consumers money,” he said.


Oil companies – led by ExxonMobil – automakers, and most electric utilities continue to fight common sense solutions to global warming, Barbose pointed out.  For instance, ExxonMobil gave at least $15 million between 1998 and 2004 to groups working to confuse the public about the broad scientific consensus on the causes of and solutions to global warming.


In Michigan, the automakers have been effective so far in blocking increases in Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) since 1975, although a Congressional vote is expected this week.  Moreover, Michigan’s utilities are promoting a controversial proposal to build new coal-fired power plants, an action that would increase Michigan’s global warming pollution.


Yesterday, Rep. Henry Waxman (CA) introduced the Safe Climate Act, which provides a long-term, science-based solution to global warming.  The bill requires the U.S. to reduce its global warming pollution by 15% from today's levels by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.  To achieve these targets, the bill calls for improved energy efficiency and a greater reliance on clean, renewable energy sources, while providing companies flexibility in meeting the pollution-reduction goals through a "cap-and-trade" program.
Rep. Waxman commented that the report “shows state-by-state how the problem has been growing for decades.  Now is the time to heed the scientists and start healing the climate.  The Safe Climate Act will dramatically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to the levels needed to avoid dangerous global warming.  We start now and increase improvements over time, as we replace dirty old energy sources with clean renewable energy and energy efficiency."


In the U.S. Senate, a sign-on letter on stopping global warming is circulating.  “Our leaders must take decisive action to stop the worst effects of global warming.  We call on Senator Levin and Senator Stabenow to sign the letter urging President Bush to support real reductions in global warming pollution,” concluded Barbose. 


The full text of the report call be found at www.environmentmichigan.org.




Environment Michigan – the new home for PIRGIM’s environmental work – is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization.  www.environmentmichigan.org