When it comes to Michigan’s environmental leaders, former Gov. William Milliken has become the ideal of a conservation politician.
It is no surprise that the Republican gubernatorial candidate has been invoking the name of Milliken along the campaign trail this year.
Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder, who calls himself a “good green Republican,” said Milliken worked to frame an important discussion about the environment.
His focus on Milliken and the environment won him the endorsement of the Michigan Republicans for the Environment and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. He’s the first Republican to win support from the league.
“Under a Governor Snyder, I’m confident we’ll see accelerating interest in the Great Lake State from companies across the nation and around the world,” said Rob Sission, national president of Republicans for Environmental Protection, in a release. “At the same time, Rick will work to assure prosperity for future generations by being a good steward of Michigan’s out-of-doors.”
But his opponent, Democrat Virg Bernero, also picked up the endorsements of the League of Conservation Voters, Michigan Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter in his primary race.
“As Lansing’s mayor, Virg Bernero has a record of balancing budgets and making Lansing a clean energy leader when politicians in state government don’t understand the meaning of balanced, budgets, or a clean energy future. Thanks to his leadership, Lansing is becoming one of the nation’s leaders in clean energy opportunities,” Richard Barron, Sierra Club political chair, said in a press release. “As governor, Virg Bernero will lead the fight for a clean energy economy for the entire state and make Michigan a leader once again.”
According to his campaign literature, Bernero established the Greater Lansing Go Green Initiative and hired the city’s first full-time environmental coordinator. He signed the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, accepted the U.S. EPA Energy Star Challenge to reduce energy usage by 10 percent, and issued an executive order requiring Lansing to adopt a series of measures to conserve energy and utilize alternative, renewable resources to reduce the city’s dependence on foreign oil.
Snyder has served on the board of trustees of the Michigan Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. If elected, he vows to create consistent and reliable conservation strategies to efficiently and effectively deal with environmental threats. According to his campaign website, his administration would focus on a four step process that should serve as the framework for protecting Michigan for future generations. Those steps are prevention, early detection, rapid response mechanism and management.
According to environmental journalism veteran Hugh McDiarmid Jr., the focus of both the candidates on the environment helped propel them to the head of their party’s tickets Tuesday.
“Both men, especially Snyder, were way ahead of their primary foes in demonstrating an understanding of how natural resources are integral to public health and the economic vitality of Michigan,” McDiarmid, now communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council, wrote in his column Mitten State.
“It will be a good feeling to wake up tomorrow knowing that the two candidates who best understand the value of natural resources to the Great Lakes State are still standing.”
The two candidates will face off in the November general election.