Governor Whitmer Signs Historic Climate Legislation, A Major Step Toward Protecting Birds and Communities

Clean Energy Future Package Will Help Create a Safer Future for Climate-Vulnerable Birds Like the Black Tern

MICHIGAN (November 28, 2023) – Michigan has taken a big step forward toward protecting birds and people from climate change. Today, Governor Whitmer signed the Clean Energy Future Package, which was passed by the Michigan state House and Senate, into law, a major milestone that will put Michigan on the path to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2040. 

“The changes we’re already seeing with birds due to climate change is cause for alarm,” said Michelle Parker, Vice President and Executive Director for Audubon Great Lakes. “Michigan birds are hanging on by a thread. Birds like the Yellow-headed Blackbird have already been forced north and out of the state. Audubon science has shown us that two-thirds of the birds in North America are at risk due to climate change. The signing of the Michigan Clean Energy Future Package into law is a big win for the wildlife and people of Michigan.”  

The combined effects of habitat loss and invasive species, along with storm events and rising water levels caused by climate change are threatening Michigan birds like Black Tern, which faces population declines up to 99 percent since the 1960s. 

Scientists tell us that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change for birds and people, we must reach net-zero carbon emissions quickly. Renewable energy sources that are responsibly sited to protect wildlife, can significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.   

The Michigan Clean Energy Future Package is a collection of three climate-friendly bills (SB 271, SB 273, and SB 502) that together will:  

  • Accelerate the deployment of responsibly sited renewable energy sources that will set Michigan on a path to a 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2040;  

  • Expand energy efficiency programs for electric and gas utilities in the state; and 

  • Require the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to consider factors like affordability, reliability, and impact on communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution when considering utilities’ energy plans. 

Michigan’s clean energy sector supports more than 113,456 jobs and pumps $5 billion annually into Michigan’s economy. By accelerating the transition to carbon-free energy, these bills will provide opportunities to reduce air pollution in Michigan while helping to provide economic opportunities for our communities.  

While these policies are an important milestone for Michigan, Audubon will continue its work to protect and uplift the communities that have been overburdened by pollution. 

“Tackling climate change requires bold action. Today we thank the leaders across Michigan who have taken this important step to addresses climate change and ensure a more sustainable future for us all,” said Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes.  “As Michigan makes this historic transition, Audubon will continue to advocate for Michigan’s natural spaces, and the birds and communities that depend on them.” 

Last year, Governor Whitmer called on Michigan to address climate change. Since then, Audubon Great Lakes and its members have mobilized in support of climate action, sending more than 1,580 letters to decision-makers and state lawmakers alerting them of the unique threats birds face from climate change, and the urgent need for solutions. This advocacy was built upon years of Audubon’s work calling for and helping to advance climate solutions across the Great Lakes region.  

Michigan joins growing list of states and territories including Illinois, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon Virginia, and Washington in setting a 100 percent clean energy standard.  

More about Audubon’s policy on renewable energy can be found here.     


About Audubon Great Lakes 
Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of Audubon, learn more at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. 

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