Can Conservatives Lead Michigan to Clean Electricity?

And this is where Rivet, who has a passion for the outdoors, comes in. “To be honest, while I agree there’s climate change, I believe it has been around forever, and it’s never going to go away,” he says. “I’m more concerned about us in Michigan using a lot of coal because we don’t have any coal. We import every bit of coal we use in Michigan. That’s not a sensible economic place to be in.”

“If you talk about climate change, you turn conservatives off,” Ward says. “They bury their heads in the sand and put up brick walls. We come at it from jobs and the economy, national security, and protecting natural resources.”

Furthermore, Keith den Hollander, chairman of the Christian Coalition of Michigan, which advocates for clean energy, says Republicans are afraid of being seen as supporting government mandates — an especially tricky position, given the nature of utilities. “There are a lot of people who don’t realize that the energy market is a regulated market,” den Hollander says. “They assume it operates under the same free market principles as any other business. That puts up a natural resistance when people talk about making requirements of utilities, which is what a mandate does…However, the utilities aren’t operating in the free market. Everything that we tell them to do is essentially a mandate because by virtue of being regulated we are telling them exactly how they’re going to operate.”