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Reducing greenhouse gases would help economy, U-M study says

May 23, 2007 Tina Lam - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Detroit Free Press

A yearlong study by students and researchers at the University of Michigan said the state could reduce greenhouse gases 12% while at the same time adding $380 million to the economy and creating 3,400 new jobs if it required more renewable energy.

An inventory of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming, showed Michigan's greenhouse gases rose 9% between 1990 and 2002. The state has a chance to lower those and jump-start new businesses that create clean energy such as wind power, said Rosina Bierbaum, dean of the U-M's School of Natural Resources and Environment. Cutting greenhouse gases and economic growth are compatible, she said.

The study said the state could add jobs by requiring utilities to get 20% of their energy from renewable sources like solar and wind power by 2025, tightening standards for energy efficiency of new homes and appliances, and requiring urban buses and government-owned cars to use at least some biofuels. The state could also offer tax credits for developing renewable energy.

The study's authors presented the information Wednesday to the House Energy and Technology Committee in Lansing.

Jim Sygo, deputy director of the Department of Environmental Quality, said since there is a lack of leadership at the federal level, the state needs to act.

"Clearly, whoever positions themselves to develop clean new energy will be in the forefront," Bierbaum said. Congress is considering bills that would require an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases nationally by 2050.

Michigan is one of 21 states that have no climate action plan. In 2002, when Michigan's greenhouse gases were last measured by U-M, 33% were from producing electricity, 26% from cars and trucks, and 17% from industry.

Contact TINA LAM at tlam@freepress.com.

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