March 20, 2018

Factory Farm Rush in Michigan Inspires Citizen Activist Training

CAFOs 101 Teaches Communities How to Fight Back

Michigan is experiencing a factory farm rush due to new hog and dairy processing facilities proposed around the state. As a result, plans for at least two new large-scale hog operations that pack thousands animals into warehouses and generate millions of gallons of waste annually have been unveiled for the Montague and Jackson areas in just the last year. These operations, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), join 272 large-scale livestock facilities already in Michigan.

When these "farms" come into a new community, they typically blindside unsuspecting local residents who have little knowledge of how to fight back. These neighbors end up living in close proximity to an industry known for generating water and air pollution, lowering land values and burdening local communities with road repair and other costs. If you are concerned about this trend in our food system, join us for our citizen activist workshop in May!

WHAT: CAFOs 101, a training to arm Michigan citizens with the knowledge to mobilize against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and their threat to our Great Lakes, inland bodies of water and public health. You'll learn about the history of CAFOs in Michigan, the regulatory and political context they operate in and how you can help fight back if one comes to your town and how to help us build a network of CAFO Busters across Michigan.

WHEN: Saturday, May 19, 10am-1pm  (includes program and light lunch)

WHERE:  Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, 600 W. Maple St., Lansing

WHO: Sponsored by Sierra Club Michigan, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, Food and Water Watch, Public Justice, Great Lakes Environmental law Center, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Blue River Law

ADMISSION: Free, but donations accepted by non-profit sponsors

RSVP Required by May 11:  Click here to register. Space is limited.

Questions? Email

February 26, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Line Not Needed to Supply Propane to Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 26, 2018
CONTACT: Sean McBrearty, Oil & Water Don’t Mix, (616) 516-7758

Line 5 Not Needed to Supply Propane to Michigan
Snyder and Schuette Putting U.P. Residents and Great Lakes at Risk by Not Pursuing Alternatives
LANSING- Citizens groups gathered at the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting today to call attention to new information regarding the Upper Peninsula’s propane supply from Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline. Both state authorities and Enbridge Energy representatives claim that decommissioning Enbridge’s antiquated and corroding Line 5 pipeline would significantly impact the propane supply in the Upper Peninsula. This claim is not accurate according to a recent study by retired Dow Chemical Facilities Engineer Gary Street released by Oil & Water Don't Mix.

“Enbridge currently claims that 65% of the propane in the Upper Peninsula is supplied by Line 5. In the recent past, they claimed as much as 85%. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau does not support either of these claims; the actual amount of propane supplied to customers in the Upper Peninsula that originates with Line 5 is about 45-50%. Nevertheless, whether it is 85%, 65% or 45%, the customers in the Upper Peninsula who rely on propane must be assured of an uninterrupted supply,” said Street.

“It is important to note that Line 5 will be shut down at some point in the near future. Whether that is by government edict or rupture remains to be seen. Either way, the fact remains that state authorities owe it to the Upper Peninsula propane customers to have a backup plan in place to ensure uninterrupted propane supply in the event that Line 5 is shut down,” said Bill Latka, co-founder of TC350, noting that Line 5 has previously ruptured at least 29 times in its history. “Instead of planning to ensure that the Upper Peninsula’s propane needs are met in the short term as we transition towards more renewable sources of energy, Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have used the propane issue as an excuse to keep this old and dangerous pipeline operating for as long as possible.”

According to Street’s research, several prudent alternatives exist that could provide the amount of propane needed to U.P. customers in the event of a Line 5 shut down, including the following:
  • Installing a 4-inch propane pipeline from Superior, Wisconsin, to Rapid River, Michigan, along the current route of Line 5. A study prepared for MPSAB confirmed this conclusion.
  • Connecting the Plains All American Rapid River propane processing plant to a nearby rail line and moving propane from Superior, Wisconsin, by rail. Just 1-2 rail propane rail cars per day would be required.
  • Using 3-4 tank trucks per day to transport propane from Superior, Wisconsin, to the Plains All American Rapid River propane processing plant

Line 5 propane from the Rapid River plant is currently transported by truck from the plant to where the propane is needed in the Upper Peninsula, so that part of the delivery would not have to change at all.

“All that we are lacking now is leadership, and the political will to protect our Great Lakes by decommissioning this pipeline. So far Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have acted as if they are beholden to Enbridge instead of the voters who elected them and trusted them to protect our water resources,” said Oil and Water Don’t Mix Campaign Coordinator Sean McBrearty. “Tens of thousands of Michigan residents from Detroit to Copper Harbor have been calling on our Governor and Attorney General to exercise their legal authority as public trustees to decommission this pipeline and prioritize our public waters. It is time for them to stop presenting misleading information about propane and start the process of protecting our water by decommissioning Line 5 immediately, before it ruptures. If they were really concerned about the U.P.’s propane supply, there would be a plan already in place in case Line 5 does rupture. The time for action is now.”

Oil & Water Don’t Mix recently released a Line 5 Decommission Plan, which can be found in full at 


Oil & Water Don’t Mix is a broad campaign of organizations, citizens and businesses across Michigan who are working to keep oil out of our Great Lakes by shutting down the dangerous, 64-year-old Line 5 Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The campaign fights for clean water and air, Indigenous rights, reducing pollution, sustainable economies and protecting sporting, tourism and jobs that are dependent on our water and Pure Michigan way of life.

February 21, 2018

Midterm Scorecard: State Lawmakers Receive Disappointing Grades in 2017-2018 Legislative Session

February 21, 2018

Contact: Mike Berkowitz, (248) 345-9808,

Sierra Club: State Lawmakers Receive Disappointing Grades in 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Latest scorecard shows legislators continue to neglect Michigan’s environment and public health

LANSING - At a time when environmental leadership is more important than ever, the Michigan Senate received a failing grade on the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s 2017-2018 midterm legislative scorecard, while the Michigan House didn’t fare much better.

The midterm scorecard, which tracked environmental voting behavior of state House and Senate members during the 2017-2018 legislative session thus far, gave the Senate a failing score of 51 percent, while the House narrowly passed with a score of 67 percent.

The Scorecard showed that generally Democrats voted to maintain or strengthen environmental protections, while Republicans more often voted to weaken or eliminate environmental protections – actions that could have a devastating effect on Michigan’s economy. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continued to roll back federal regulations aimed at combating climate change and fighting pollution. All of this occurred at the same time that 2017 was recorded as the third hottest year on record.

“The 2017-2018 state Legislature was regressive when it comes to environmental protection, rolling back many of the safeguards we’ve had in place for decades. It’s shameful that the environment has become a partisan political issue,” said Mike Berkowitz, the Michigan Legislative Director for the Sierra Club. “Environmental protections are a no-brainer for all Michigan residents. Our members find it hard to believe that so many of our lawmakers are voting against clean air, clean water, and public health – all of which are vital not only for healthy living but also for a healthy tourism industry, one of the state’s largest economic drivers.”

The Sierra Club’s Scorecard calculated the results based upon 11 votes in the House and 12 votes in Senate for the 2017-2018 Michigan state legislative session. According to the Scorecard, House Democrats scored an average of 91 percent, while House Republicans scored an average of 48 percent. Senate Democrats scored an near-perfect average of 98 percent, while Senate Republicans scored an average of 28 percent. Thirty-six lawmakers scored 100 percent, up from the 2015-2016 session when thirty-three lawmakers got a perfect mark.

A full list of “Environmental Champions” (90-100 percent), “Environmental Stewards” (78-89 percent), and “Pollution Promoters” (zero-35 percent) is included HERE.

“With little leadership coming from Washington, it’s vital that states take the lead in environmental protections,” Berkowitz said. “We hope that candidates running for office in 2018 and sitting lawmakers will see our scorecard and be motivated to get rid of this anti-environment attitude in the next legislative session.”

Sterling Heights state Sen. Tory Rocca (R-10) was the highest scoring Republican with a perfect 100 percent score. Two GOP representatives, Troy state Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-41) and Newaygo state Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-100), share the spot for second highest score among Republicans, both receiving a score of 73 percent. 35 Democratic Legislators scored 100 percent in 2017-2018, including 25 State Representatives and 10 State Senators (for full list, please look at our full scorecard). Representative Scott Dianda (D-110) was the lowest scoring House Democrat, receiving a 64 percent. Newly elected state Rep. Sara Cambensy received a score of 50 percent but it was based on a very small sample size including only 2 votes. The full scorecard with full descriptions of the bills is available here.

“This scorecard shows that our legislature has the wrong priorities when it comes to protecting Michigan’s environment,” said James D’Amour, a member of Michigan Sierra Club’s Political Committee who was once an active member of the Republican Party. “Clean air and clean water should not be partisan issues. We used to be leaders in making conservation a top priority, but no longer. The direction of the GOP is disheartening for people like me who care about protecting the environment while creating green jobs.”


The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 130,000 members and supporters in Michigan.

December 6, 2017

Citizens Groups React to Line 5 Shut Down

CONTACT: Sean McBrearty, Oil & Water Don’t Mix, (616)516-7758

Citizens Groups React to Line 5 Shut Down

LANSING- Yesterday, the portion of Enbridge Energy’s controversial Line 5 pipeline that operates through the Straits of Mackinac was temporarily shut down due to adverse weather conditions in the Straits. According to the backroom deal that Governor Snyder struck with Enbridge on November 27th, the portion of pipeline that runs through the Straits must be shut down any time in which there are sustained waves of eight feet or larger in the Straits of Mackinac. Tuesday’s nine-foot waves accompanied with high winds were identified, and the pipeline was shut down at 11:37 AM.

“The very fact that this agreement between Governor Snyder and Enbridge requires the pipeline to be shut down in adverse weather conditions is an admission that there is a genuine risk identified with the continued operation of this pipeline,” said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW (For Love of Water).

“The US Coast Guard says they cannot clean up an oil spill when waves are larger than three feet high. It makes absolutely no sense to allow Enbridge to operate this outdated, poorly maintained pipeline any longer. Especially in conditions that would make a cleanup nearly impossible,” said Bill Latka, group leader of TC350.

“Shutting down the pipeline during bad weather is an indication of the truly terrible condition that the pipeline is in. How much longer is the state going to let Enbridge hobble this old, failing pipeline along while putting the Great Lakes at risk?” said Greg Reisig, board chair of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council.

“The state allowing Enbridge to continue to operate this pipeline in most conditions, while adding the arbitrary requirement that it be shut down when waves on the surface are greater than eight feet, is roughly the equivalent of the state allowing someone to operate a car without brakes or steering, as long as they don’t drive in the fog,” said Jessica Fujan, midwest regional director of Food and Water Watch, “it is an arbitrary requirement that makes no sense and puts a lot of Michigan residents at risk.”

Oil & Water Don’t Mix is a broad campaign of organizations, citizens and businesses across Michigan who are working to keep oil out of our Great Lakes by shutting down the dangerous, 64-year-old Line 5 Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The campaign fights for clean water and air, Indigenous rights, reducing pollution, sustainable economies and protecting sporting, tourism and jobs that are dependent on our water and Pure Michigan way of life.

Sierra Club is Hiring in West Michigan!

Sierra Club West Michigan Clean Energy Associate Organizer

This is a two-year, full-time organizing position based in Grand Rapids. The West Michigan Clean Energy Associate Organizer will build grassroots power and move West Michigan away from fossil fuels towards a clean energy future by leading the implementation of Sierra Club’s Building West Michigan Power Campaign to increase grassroots engagement in the region to achieve the goals of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign and Ready for 100 Campaigns.

For details and to apply, click here.

November 27, 2017

Environmental Leaders Criticize Snyder-Enbridge Deal on Line 5

Monday, November 27, 2017
Media Contacts:   Liz Kirkwood  570-872-4956/
                                 Anne Woiwode 517-974-2112/

Key citizens groups leading the campaign to protect the Great Lakes from an oil spill reacted to the announcement of a new agreement by the state with Enbridge Energy Partners on its controversial Line 5 oil pipelines by criticizing a key portion of the deal that potentially allows Enbridge to continue operating in the Straits of Mackinac. 

“Nothing short of ending the flow of oil through the Straits will protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic spill,” said Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW.  “It’s remarkable given Enbridge’s pattern and practice of lying to the state about Line 5’s condition that the governor is now trusting Enbridge to abide by a new agreement.  This puts the future of the Great Lakes in the hands of Enbridge.” 

Measures announced today by the governor that would temporarily shut down Line 5 during some severe storm events and implement more safety measures for the pipeline should be interim measures taken until Line 5 is decommissioned by the state, the groups said. 

“Putting in more technology to ensure we find out sooner when Line 5 ruptures is not the same as protecting the Great Lakes,” said Anne Woiwode, Conservation Chair for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.  “These are good steps but they are only band-aids and we are concerned that instead of protecting the Great Lakes they will be seen as permanent solutions. They are not.”

“Moreover, it is imprudent and arbitrary for the Governor to unilaterally sign a deal with Enbridge before the legal processes and evidence including the opinion of experts on all sides have been thoroughly reviewed and completed,” said Jim Olson, environmental attorney and President of FLOW. “Governor Snyder appears to have prematurely ignored and violated his own executive order, law, rules and once more ignored his public trust duties toward the Great Lakes, water, public health and safety, and the protection of citizens.”

On Nov. 16 the Great Lakes Resource Committee of Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA), representing five Michigan Native American tribes, came out in opposition to replacing Line 5 in the Straits with a tunneled pipelines, saying it would not eliminate risks of an oil spill in the Straits area waters within the boundaries of an 1836 treaty protecting their fishing rights. CORA is comprised of representatives of the Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band Of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.


November 6, 2017


The Sierra Club will expand its capacity to tackle environmental threats in Michigan by adding two new positions to its staff in 2018. If you like a challenge, want to work for positive change, and build a better world for future generations, then you could be a good fit for Sierra Club Michigan. 

We are currently looking for qualified candidates for a part-time Green Stormwater Infrastructure Organizer position in Detroit who will educate citizens and help install rain gardens and rain barrels in urban communities. We also seek applicants for a part-time Great Lakes Regional Organizer in our Lansing office who will work on our fight to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline as well as other challenges to the Great Lakes.  

The job description and application information for the Great Lakes Regional Organizer is found here.  For details on the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Organizer, click here.