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Inflation Reduction Act provides hope for Michigan's climate-change policies

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With the Inflation Reduction Act now law, many states are beginning to bring their climate goals to fruition.

In the last decade, Michigan has seen rapid increases in flooding and other drastic weather events. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, Michigan's declining ice cover could result in greater shoreline erosion, making the state vulnerable to greater flooding.

Gary Schlack, a city council member in Allen Park, feels a climate emergency needs to be declared on top of the money from the new law. He recognizes political fights over climate change are detracting from accomplishing certain climate-oriented goals.

"We only have so much time," Schlack stressed. "As stewards of our planet, we have to reach now, and not continue letting the other side drive our language. And, if we continue to do so, we'll just move a step back, and fossil fuels will take advantage of that. When you have the momentum, use it."

Although Allen Park is still in the early stages of its climate efforts, Schlack hopes to bring other green initiatives to life. As the liaison for Allen Park's Downtown Development Authority, he has suggested using energy-efficient light bulbs within downtown lighting and adding car-charging stations across the city.

Schlack feels a great deal of education needs to be done about climate change's effects, not just among the people of Allen Park but with elected officials throughout the area. There must be action, Schlack emphasized, as one can be useless without the other. Another challenge he has faced is getting people to see investing in green policies is not to their detriment.

"There are cities that are kind of teetering on trying to be green," Schlack noted. "But it's always investment, and investment can be hard when there's other things that can be seemingly more important, and the constant fight of people think that we're going to raise taxes if we put new incentives going through."

He believes there is still a long way to go with the city's green-energy policies but sees a clear path forward with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Vast flooding hit the area in 2019 and charged up Schlack's desire to see more climate-change policies passed on a local level. He hopes to keep flooding from recurring at the same levels, adding you should not need an ark to live in Allen Park.

Edwin J. Viera is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He's previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR's Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.
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