Advancing Clean Energy Solutions
Beginning more than a century ago fossil fuels powered the industrial revolution that built the great cities around the Great Lakes – Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Toronto, Buffalo and many more. It was primarily coal and oil that came mostly from outside our region which provided an incredible boost of energy, but in recent decades we’ve learned that it has also come at considerable cost to our environment and climate.
Pollutants such as mercury and other heavy metals, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate smog have poisoned fish, wildlife and countless communities of people. The mining of coal, and the transport of oil has resulted in environmental degradation and devastating oil spills that have polluted drinking water. And the massive release of carbon dioxide is trapping heat and warming our climate, which has additional impacts on our environment.
Fortunately there are now clean energy solutions that allow us to meet our energy needs, and eliminate the pollution from fossil fuels. Energy efficiency measures that reduce demand are often the most cost-effective solution, and now renewable sources generated from wind and solar are becoming even more affordable. And because renewable energy is generated locally, the construction and maintenance jobs remain in our own communities, keeping our energy dollars close to home.
A transition toward a local, clean energy economy is underway, but needs support and engagement from the business community to ensure it is smooth and locally beneficial. Supportive policies at the municipal, state and federal level can help advance many different aspects of the transition, including encouraging energy efficiency, promoting renewable energy projects and policies, and economic incentives for clean energy.
Action can be targeted in many ways, including at local business investments, at local communities policies, or in state legislatures and federal programs. Positive energy solutions are happening around the Great Lakes, and there are tremendous opportunities for business engagement.
The Great Lakes Business Network will work to help advance a clean energy economy in the Great Lakes region that avoids major disruptions to energy use, is equitable and fair to all users, and has long-term benefits to the local communities.