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Letters: Readers respond on road funding oversight, state climate plan

Fund the roads, but follow the money

In Rob Coppersmith’s opinion piece ("Michigan roads keep getting worse. Here's how we make them better," April 29) he writes that the way we’ve been funding Michigan’s infrastructure for decades isn’t working. I agree, but underinvestment isn’t the only problem.

There is virtually no way to track infrastructure funds so that lawmakers and taxpayers can make sure they end up where they’re supposed to. Michigan received $6 billion from the federal government over the last five years for highway construction. Where’s all the money going? Your guess is as good as mine.

Michigan’s Department of Transportation, for one example, received a $200 million grant for I-75 reconstruction, widening, and landscaping, but because no sub-awards were reported — a general reporting problem we’ve flagged at the Project On Government Oversight — there is no way of knowing exactly what work was done and when, which companies were hired to do this work or how much they charged.

We certainly need to spend big on fixing Michigan’s crumbling bridges and roads. But Congress must couple infrastructure spending in Michigan and other states with requirements for more robust oversight.

Sean Moulton, senior policy analyst, Project On Government Oversight

State climate plan a boon for consumers 

Contrary to Brendan Clarey's recent piece ("Whitmer's green agenda is a raw deal for consumers," May 6) the MI Healthy Climate Plan will be a boon for the state's economy, all while cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing local air pollution. Renewable energy is not driving up your electric bill. Quite the opposite: Improvements in technology over the last decade or so have driven down the costs of wind and solar energy to the point where, without counting the effects of subsidies, building utility-scale wind or solar is cheaper than coal or nuclear plants.

According to the utilities themselves, the culprit for higher electric bills and power outages is not clean energy, but the aging distribution grid, which is more vulnerable to failing due to years of deferred maintenance.

Far from worsening the problem, renewable energy, backed by energy storage, is an integral part of the solution. Rooftop solar, combined with storage solutions like batteries, would allow homes and businesses to produce their own clean energy that is available when the grid goes down.

Clarey cites figures showing that many types of air pollution have fallen over the past 50 years. That is true, but that progress has been achieved by establishing policies that have helped foster an advanced energy industry that supports over 100,000 jobs in Michigan in companies that do work in wind and solar projects, rooftop solar, electric vehicles, battery storage, energy efficiency, manufacturing for renewable energy projects and more.

The MI Healthy Climate Plan is the next step to keep Michigan as a leader and grow our advanced energy economy.

Laura Sherman, president, Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council