Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition

Unifying the voice of a generation in environmental solidarity

So we lost Prop 3…

on November 14, 2012

And I know many of us have been feeling a little sad about that. Its always disheartening to see something that you worked so hard on go wrong, but in the end its all about the lessons you learn and how you move forward. In the case of Prop 3, there are many lessons to learn for ourselves, our organizations, and our movement as a whole, but also a lot of insight to be gained about how to move on with clean energy for Michigan now.

In the end, it turned out that voters didn’t really have a problem with clean energy in Michigan, they just didn’t want to change our constitution to make it happen. According to the American Wind Energy Association, only 1% of people who voted “no” did so because they are opposed to clean energy.  In addition, every other ballot initiative seeking to amend the constitution also lost, and by a fairly large margin. I guess if you want to get anything done here, an amendment to the constitution is not the way to go.

Of course, none of this was helped by the MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of dollars spent by our state’s two largest utility companies and their dirty energy friends. Their biggest talking point for their vote no campaign was this constitution argument. They even had help from another group just promoting voting no on all of the amendment initiatives. When we put all this money together, the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs campaign supporting Prop 3 was outspent 5 to 1 by these two groups.

All together, it seems that Prop 3 had some very large obstacles in its way to becoming a part of our constitution, even though the majority of Michigan voters would like to see more clean energy. It is extremely sad to see our state reject this opportunity for a better environment, thousands of jobs, and a new future, but we can’t think that Prop 3 was our only  hope.

According to Midwest Energy News, wind energy in Michigan now costs much less than a new coal plant. We are also still on our way to achieving 10% renewable energy in our state by 2015, its not much but its still driving a larger market for clean energy. It seems that, mandate or not, Michigan is headed for a clean energy future. (well, DUH we are running out of fossil fuels and the climate is being destroyed!!!)

To me, the most hopeful part of all this was all of the progressive victories across the country we saw last week. Even though groups like the Koch brothers spent billions of dollars, people still came out to vote for the values that were important to them, like not hating women and gay people. We now have more diversity than ever in the House and Senate, and exciting new moves forward in several states, like the passing of same sex marriage in Maine and Maryland and the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. And hey, after all that money was spent, we still have the same president, democrats still control the Senate, and republicans still control the House. (Suddenly images of money burning in garbage cans are popping in to my head)

Although money and arguments about process won the day in Michigan, I see a lot of hope for clean energy in our very near future. There is a lot of momentum building off of climate change’s newest tap on the shoulder, hurricane Sandy, and President Obama will soon have to (again) make a decision on Keystone XL. The people of Michigan have made it clear that we must now turn to our elected officials and demand accountability from them if we want to see action on clean energy, so lets start doing it!

The MSSC will absolutely continue to fight for clean energy even though the election is over. Be a part of the solution by joining one of our issue based working groups! Currently, we are coordinating statewide action around fracking, tar sands, divestment, and 100% campus sustainability, but we need your help so sign up on our website today!

It was great working with many of you this past fall on Prop 3, and I can’t wait to move forward and do more great things together as a movement. We may have lost this one, but there are many more fights to come.

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