Bill Schuette and Gretchen Whitmer take different tacks to climate change

Michigan candidates for governor Bill Schuette and Gretchen Whitmer have vastly different approaches to climate change. (Photo of Bonanza Falls on the Big Iron River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, by Mark Baldwin. Accessed via Shutterstock)

November 6: Gretchen Whitmer projected winner in Michigan governor race

Intense rain and flooding, more pollution in lakes and rivers, higher risks of harmful algal blooms, increased droughts and disease-carrying pests — like ticks and mosquitos.

Those are just a few trends the Great Lakes region can expect as the earth continues warming in the coming decades, climate experts say.

Related: Comparing the environmental records of Bill Schuette and Gretchen Whitmer

All 83 of Michigan counties have grown warmer on average over the past three decades, according to a recent data analysis by the Associated Press. Much of the Lower Peninsula is about 2 degrees hotter.

Independent scientific studies continue to conclude earth’s atmosphere and oceans are  steadily warming because of human activity that emits carbon dioxide. The trend has widespread consequences across the globe.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — comprised of the world’s top scientists — this month warned global leaders they must pursue an “unprecedented” transformation of international economies over the next decade to limit global temperature increases to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and avoid some of the most devastating consequences of warming: severe drought and coastal flooding that could displace millions of people in low-lying areas, disrupt global food supplies and destabilize some governments.

Related: Truth Squad | Bill Schuette goes foul, claims Whitmer will ‘kill’ Flint case
Related: 2018 Bridge Michigan Voter Guide: Links to our relevant election coverage

How should Michigan respond to the latest warning? Bridge Magazine asked the two leading candidates for governor: Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, and Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and former state Senate majority leader.

Here’s what they said.

Bill Schuette

Schuette this year signed onto a legal brief questioning the scientific consensus surrounding climate change, but he told Bridge Magazine “I do believe that the earth is warming.”

“All of us in government have a responsibility to better understand the science and its long-term implications and to forge sensible public policies that ensure protection of our planet as well as our state and national economies,” Schuette said in an email through spokesman John Sellek.

“In 2018, we can and must balance conservation and environmental interests while also advancing Michigan's economic interests, growing our economy to attract more jobs and people and improving the quality of life for all Michiganians.”

Schuette added: “But, I will be a pro-manufacturing governor. Michigan benefits when we are manufacturing. For example, the addition of the Ram truck assembly in Macomb County is very important. We cannot turn away good paying jobs for our workers and families.”

Gretchen Whitmer

“I believe that climate change is real and we need to take steps to combat it,” Whitmer said in an email through spokeswoman Eileen Belden. “The facts show that this is a real threat to our environment, our economy, and the health and wellbeing of the people of our state.”

Whitmer pledged to enter Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of 17 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, the international treaty President Donald Trump vows to leave. She also promised to create a state “department of the Great Lakes and Fresh Water”, which would house an “Office of Climate Change.”

That agency would would “provide insight and recommendations to the governor, state departments, the legislature and municipalities on how to mitigate the effects of climate change, how to adapt to it, and, generally, be the resource for all things related to it,” Whitmer said.

She also vowed to upgrade the state’s aging electric and heating grids to cut energy waste while “making sure Michigan has the edge in electric vehicles will not only reduce carbon emissions, but create and protect jobs here in our state.”

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Erwin Haas
Tue, 10/23/2018 - 9:47am

Bridgemi journalists, really the detritus of bad writers of dozens of failed newspapers in Michigan (the imitative writing is why they failed), repeat the failed pronouncements of the AP-yet another shrinking empire of broken down hacks of little imagination.
We Michiganders are better than this. How about;
The place where I'm sitting right now was at the bottom of 300 feet of ice 12,000 years ago and thankfully, that has all melted due to an unaccountable but very welcome global warming. We have mixed data on whether this welcome warming is continuing, but the increased CO2 has served as a crop fertilizer, spares plants the need for water and has caused entire regions like the Sahel in North Africa to green up.
We in Michigan live in a harsh climate, a relatively short growing season and freeze thaw cycles that bust up our roads, make cars careen out of control with every freeze and force retirees to migrate to Florida as I'm reminded of daily in my FB and email feeds.
Why should we not welcome any cause of alleged warming, dump politicians who want to blunt our progression into sunwarmed realms of everyone's aspirations (but in the meantime they have to flee Michigan for Georgia and Texas,) and build cheap and cost effective gas fired electric generators and factories so that we can prosper here?
And where do the writers who advocate our doning the hair shirts of environmentalism so that we can partake in globalist poverty gain some sort of moral authority?
I'm running for Michigan's 26th senate district as a LIbertarian. I hear these dogs at our local Leftist think tank (the Right wing is Mackinac, also uninspiring) barking, but the caravan bearing our unknowable climate future moves on.

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 10:08am

Living proof that you don't have to be intelligent or sane to be a doctor. May your grandchildren curse your name for the economic damage you leave in your wake

Kate Convissor
Wed, 10/24/2018 - 10:32am

Glad you're running as a libertarian. You don't have a snowball's chance in our rapidly warming climate of actually getting elected. Keep on spouting nonsense. You have an audience of one.
Thanks, Bridge, for really helpful reporting.

Mrs A
Wed, 10/24/2018 - 8:37pm

Isn't it great that someone who doesn't have a lick of understanding about the difference between CLIMATE and WEATHER can freely advertise his ignorance, not to mention his apparent laziness to do any research on the subject? Isn't it amazing that he can denigrate the efforts of hard-working writers who moved from a print platform to a digital one as "failing" and YET HE IS STILL READING THEM (which pretty much defeats his argument)? Isn't it great that such a dinosaur was chosen by the least relevant political party to run as a candidate? What a great state we live in. Enjoy your obscurity, Mr Haas. Oh and next week, have fun yelling at the trick-or-treaters to get off your lawn.

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 10:16am

I am grateful for the fact-based, principled approach put forth by Gretchen Whitmer.

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 4:05pm

Facts. So many facts. I compare it to accounting. You can make the dollar amounts sing or cry in your favor. Much like the climate change argument.

Scott Elliott
Tue, 10/23/2018 - 1:28pm

If Billy gets elected, it was either a fraud election or Michigan people really are that naive. Either way with him as governor, say goodbye to a better Michigan, at least for a good long while!

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 7:20pm

I'll bet you said something similar 2 years ago?