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MI Proponents of Climate Bill Make Unusual Bedfellows

June 14, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - What do a Michigan priest, a businessman and a war veteran have in common? Their views on climate change.

Michigan proponents of the energy bill now awaiting action in the U.S. Senate have formed a coalition to encourage Congress to include provisions to address climate change. Father Charles Morris, founder of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, a group of 300 congregations across Michigan focused on energy stewardship, believes a lack of climate change legislation will lead to more economic hardship.

"Taking courageous action to address climate change is heart-and-soul crucial to increasing our security, creating more jobs, keeping the $24 billion that leaves our state every year to pay for fossil fuel, to bring it back in. And to defend against the serious economic problems which will arise by failure to act. "

Another member of the coalition offers an alternative to petroleum. Gary Lezarski, who operates an ethanol plant in Lake Odessa, says that in one year the plant has created 40 jobs, produced 50 million gallons of ethanol, and purchases 1.5 million bushels of corn per month.

Operation Free, a veterans' group dedicated to teaching Americans how climate change affects national security, is also involved in the coalition effort. Matt Ross, who served in Iraq as a security specialist at petrochemical plants, thinks dependence on foreign oil helps fund terrorism.

"We need to defend American by de-funding terror. We're spending a billion dollars a day to import oil from overseas. Iran alone, gets $100 million a day in oil revenues, and we know they use some of that money to fund the people fighting us in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The Michigan coalition is pushing for passage of the American Power Act, although so far partisan politics and the Gulf oil spill continue to delay debate on the bill in the U.S. Senate.

Amy Miller/Lori Abbott, Public News Service - MI