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Posted on Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

How green is your governor? Environmental group tracking Rick Snyder's progress in Lansing

By Ryan J. Stanton


Gov. Rick Snyder addresses a crowd on the steps of the state Capitol building during his inaugural ceremony on Jan. 1. He included a brief mention of Michigan's natural resources as one of the state's greatest assets during his speech.

Ryan J. Stanton |

In his first two weeks as governor, Rick Snyder's administration made three moves that earned him points for being "green" and one that dented his street cred with environmentalists.

The Ann Arbor-based Michigan League of Conservation Voters is tracking the actions of the Republican governor — as well as his administration and the statewide departments he directs — as decisions are made on issues impacting the environment.

Throughout his campaign, Snyder promoted himself as a conservationist. Now the LVC is watching to see whether his promises translate into actions with a new "How Green Is Your Governor? tracker tool on its website.

Snyder pleased environmentalists early on when he named former state Sen. Patty Birkholz the new director of Michigan Office of Great Lakes. Snyder scored again last week when new Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the administration would continue a lawsuit aimed at stopping the invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

The Snyder administration also surprised many by taking legal action to put the brakes on construction of a new coal plant in Holland until a full study of alternative options is done.

According to the LCV, Snyder appears to be "pretty serious" about his commitment to Michigan's natural resources and environment — with just one main concern.

Snyder lost points for naming Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by Justice Maura Corrigan.

"Zahra was the lone dissenter in a 2008 ruling that required industrial farms to report the contents and location of the ongoing disposal of toxic animal waste products," the LCV wrote on its website. "His position, which would hide this important information from effected Michigan citizens, is a discouraging precedent for his upcoming tenure on the state's highest court."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

Snyder has said he wants to cut back on farming regulations. CAFCOs anyone? Maybe an article on that issue, instead of a meaningless HOW GREEN AM I roundup after three weeks of being in office would have been a better use of's journalist resources for it's daily Rick article. Maybe you can focus on the for the Wednesday Snyder article. Or Thursday's? Friday's?


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

We need: a) Green environment; b) Green in our bank accounts; Let's hope we find the balance!


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 8:37 p.m.

Cash said: "Just keep turning your head and plugging your ears while the Great Lakes continue to become toilets for General Foods and other corporate farmers. There are none so blind as those who will not see....because Rush tells them not to." General Foods? This company has not existed since 1990 Cash, who are you talking about? Pretty funny what you said about those who listen to Rush,talk like that just causes readers to dismiss everything you say!


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

Really? First General foods does still exist, as does Kraft. Second, while you and I have polar opposite opinion on everything, I would not think that " readers dismiss everything you say" because I'm aware many people have many different opinions, thus some agree, some disagree. The point of posting is to share opinions. If you are unaware of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, there is much to learn. Manure from 10,000 cows is equal to untreated sewage from 230,000 people. This dumped into rivers flowing to the Great Lakes is a problem. It may not concern you, but I am pretty sure it's not acceptable to most Michiganians.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

The things that are importan to me when it comes to the environment in Michigan. 1. Protect Watersheds: remove dams, reduce phosphate levels in fertilizers (which I think has been done), and soften run off with various catch ponds and wetlands. These are relatively inexpensive endeavors (we can argue about the cost removing dams versus maintaining dams). I don't think Snyder has that much to do in this area. 2. The State Parks are self funded by user fees (taxpayers don't pay for them), the surplus should be used to add important attractions. 3. Use whatever energy source makes economic sense and balance that with other issues, Shale gas is plentiful in Michigan and is now inexpensive to harvest. It appears that gas turbines will be powering the state in the future. Michigan is a cold, cloudy, crappy place for half the year. We have some nice natural attractions that, if leveraged correctly, could attract people to this state to live. I think the Grand Rapids area has a huge potential due to its good schools, work ethic, proximity to Chicago, and its proximity to Lake Michigan and other state natural treasures.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

Gass, E coli is keeping waterways closed to human beings every summer. If you think that's fine, lovely. I think the majority of Michiganians would rather not have their water full of fecal bacteria. The high e-coli content is directly related to industrial farms. These are not regular "farms" as we knew 50 years ago. These are animals jammed into yards to produce as much milk or meat as possible. Just keep turning your head and plugging your ears while the Great Lakes continue to become toilets for General Foods and other corporate farmers. There are none so blind as those who will not see....because Rush tells them not to.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

I could not care less! I also hope he doesn't waste much time on this job killing industry. We have far more pressing issues to deal with.

C. S. Gass

Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

Ok, so he's 'not green' because he appointed a judge that doesn't care where farmers dump "toxic animal waste products"? Color me black as coal then because I find that concern to be stupid. 'toxic animal waste products'? Do you mean horse feces? Cow Feces? Or carcasses? All of these things are biodegradable and only the most simpering, vegan, environmental would tell you otherwise. The lakes and rivers can take it. And only recently has cow dung become a "toxic animal waste product". And why? Because of excessive and destructive legislation by environmental lobbies. Farmers have been green since before the first hippy lit a joint. I'll take farmers over hippies any day. So if this is their one concern with Snyder, I don't care. And "do not care the entire "green" initiative is based on lies like global warming. what a drain on the American economy and a terrific waste of money." Right you are, Blue Max. Couldn't agree more. As far as the coal plant, I don't care, does it provide jobs? Energy? Well, then it's a good thing. Of course, I would prefer a half dozen more nuclear plants instead, just from the 'coal soot on my car hood' perspective. How Copy?

John B.

Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

That's next week, Cobra II.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

Who cares? He hasn't flown to China yet!


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

Give us this day our daily Snyder Part II. Industrial farms...ever ask anyone living in the thumb about them? Farm waste going right into the rivers emptying into Lake Huron. You don't have to be considered "GREEN" to not want cow dung dumped into Lake Huron. Nice choice for Supreme Court, Snyder.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

I applaud the decision to block the construction of a new coal plant. Given the very real danger of climate change to the Great Lakes and the economy of Michigan, we do not need to be encouraging the burning of greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels without a detailed study of alternatives that considers all negative externalities.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

do not care the entire "green" initiative is based on lies like global warming. what a drain on the american economy and a terrific waste of money.