Great Lakes Energy Institute

Wisconsin & Michigan

October 2-8, 2016


Over the past century, three fossil fuels – petroleum, natural gas and coal – have dominated U.S. energy production and consumption. In 2015, these fossil fuels made up 81.5% of total energy consumption in the country. While fossil fuels have held well above an 80% share for the last one hundred years, that 2015 number marks a new low. And it may be a sign of big changes to come.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration is projecting that, by 2040, renewable energy generated by wind and solar will eclipse the contributions of biofuels and nuclear power and even rival coal in our national energy make up. Natural gas, meanwhile, will vie with petroleum for top billing.
IJNR’s Great Lakes Energy Institute will see how these changes are playing out on the ground. Journalists selected for the fellowship will enjoy a week-long field trip exploring everything from gas and oil pipelines and trains carrying crude through the Great Lakes region, to a potential new shale gas play in Michigan and Wisconsin’s largest solar array – built on the remains of a decommissioned coal operation. 
Fellows will meet with scientists, business people, lawmakers, activists and local citizens as they take a deep dive into the stories that arise when economy, energy and our environment intersect. 

Topics currently being considered for inclusion in the agenda are:
•    Enbridge’s Line 5 – What do current studies indicate about the spill risk and potential alternatives to the pipeline running in the open water between Lakes Michigan and Huron?
•    Cow Power - Can methane digesters move from forward-thinking farms, to regional power systems that reduce agricultural runoff and supply a reliable source of biofuels?
•    Oil Trains – How are communities addressing safety concerns and improving infrastructure to address the rise of shipping oil via rail?
•    Oil Boats - While crude oil isn't yet being shipped on tankers in the region, will the Coast Guard's vessel response plan be ready for if and when it is?
•    The Rise of Renewables – How are market pressures, federal and state policy and consumer demand shaping the growth of solar and wind energy?
•    Fracking the Mitten – If prices rebound, the Antrim Shale may be the next big domestic oil and gas play. Are Michigan's regulations - developed with watershed protection in mind - ready for this future?  
•    Nuclear Power – As countries like Canada and France embrace the greenhouse gas reductions that come with nuclear power, could plants like those along the Lake Michigan shoreline help the U.S. meet carbon reduction goals?
•    Nuclear Past - A decommissioned plant looks to toward redevelopment - but how might the historic uses of the site influence the future? 
•    Gas Under Ground - After a massive leak at a California facility, how will Michigan - with more underground gas storage facilities than any other state - address its checkerboard of oversight that leaves facilities only lightly regulated?

The Great Lakes EnergyInstitute will begin and end in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Follow along with us virtually at #IJNRgreatlakes as we plan for and conduct the trip!