April 20, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: SIERRA CLUB MAKES EARLY ENDORSEMENTS FOR 2018 ELECTION



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2018

CONTACT:
Mike Berkowitz
248.345.9808
mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org

SIERRA CLUB MAKES EARLY ENDORSEMENTS FOR 2018 ELECTION

The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, a non-partisan environmental protection organization, today announced its first round of candidate endorsements for the 2018 primary and general elections. Early endorsements are reserved for incumbents with proven pro-environment records and challengers who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the principles of the Sierra Club. These endorsements precede the April 24 candidate filing deadline for candidates.

“Sierra Club endorses candidates who demonstrate strong leadership in promoting clean air, clean water, cleaner energy and a healthier Michigan,” said Mike Berkowitz, Political Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Our members are committed to making sure voters are aware of the strong environmental values of these candidates. We will work hard to ensure these candidates are sent to Lansing or DC next year.”

The Sierra Club has endorsed United States Senator Debbie Stabenow for re-election and the following candidates for Congress:

Matt Morgan (D-1)
Dan Kildee (D-5)
Gretchen Driskell (D-7)
Elissa Slotkin (D-8)
Debbie Dingell (D-12)
Brenda Lawrence (D-14)

The Sierra Club has endorsed Jocelyn Benson for Michigan Secretary of State and the following candidates for State Senator and Representative:

Senate:
Stephanie Chang (D-1)
Jeremy Moss (D-11)
Sean McCann (D-20)
Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-23)
Jim Ananich (D-27)
Winnie Brinks (D-29)

House of Representatives:
Joseph Tate (D-2)
Latanya Garrett (D-7)
Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-8)
Abdullah Hammoud (D-15)
Kevin Hertel (D-18)
Kristy Pagan (D-21)
Darrin Camilleri (D-23)
Jim Ellison (D-26)
Robert Wittenberg (D-27)
William Sowerby (D-31)
Sheldon Neeley (D-34)
Christine Greig (D-37)
Tim Sneller (D-50)
Donna Lasinski (D-52)
Yousef Rabhi (D-53)
Jon Hoadley (D-60)
David LaGrand (D-75)
Rachel Hood (D-76)
Terry Sabo (D-92)
Vanessa Guerra (D-95)

At the local level, the Sierra Club has endorsed the following candidates for Oakland County Commission and Wayne County Commission:

Oakland County:
David Bowman (D-10)
Marcia Gershenson (D-13)
Helaine Zack (D-18)
Dave Woodward (D-19)

Wayne County:
Tim Killeen (D-1)
Martha Scott (D-3)
Ilona Varga (D-4)
Glenn Anderson (D-12)
Ray Basham (D-14)

Finally, the Sierra Club endorsed Voters Not Politicians and Promote The Vote, two statewide ballot initiatives aimed at improving Michigan’s participatory democracy. Voters Not Politicians will end partisan gerrymandering by establishing an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Promote The Vote will make voting more accessible, secure and fair for everyone who wants to participate in our elections.

“Sierra Club volunteers from among the organization’s 150,000 Michigan members and supporters will work with endorsed candidates and campaigns, identifying and recruiting voters who are concerned about the state’s environmental and energy policies” said Richard Morley Barron, Political Chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

“Sierra Club is a grassroots organization and our political strength is in educating and mobilizing environmental voters,” said Barron. “Given the unprecedented challenges facing our Great Lakes, our climate and public health, we are committed to implementing the most robust effort of any election year in our history. The times demand it and our members expect it.”

The Michigan Chapter’s Political Committee conducts thorough reviews of candidates based on their environmental history, voting records and policy positions through candidate interviews and responses to candidate questionnaires. The Sierra Club will continue reviewing candidates for the 2018 election on a rolling basis with the intention of making two more rounds of endorsements, one before the primary election in August and one following it.

A full list of candidates and ballot proposals endorsed by the Michigan Sierra Club, including federal, state and local candidates, is available at the following website: http://tinyurl.com/SCMIEndorse.

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.4 million members and supporters nationwide, and over 150,000 in Michigan. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

Paid for by Michigan Sierra PAC (109 E. Grand River Ave. Lansing, MI 48906)

April 12, 2018

ACTION ALERT: Clean Water For Flint!

Demand Clean Public Water for Flint!

On Friday, April 6, Governor Snyder notified the Flint community through a press release that the State of Michigan would no longer provide bottled water once the existing supply ran out, despite continuing concerns about water safety. As of Tuesday, April 10, the supply of bottled water dried up, leaving residents scrambling to secure clean water for drinking, cooking and other daily needs.

Contact Governor Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Calley to tell them Flint needs bottled water until after all lead service lines are replaced, and their accountability and transparency are necessary for all of Michigan! 

Lead service lines are being replaced quickly when weather allows - and replacing the remaining thousands of lead service lines will at least take until the end of 2019. When the pipes are replaced, lead is released into the water supply - potentially spiking lead levels for months after pipes are replaced in neighborhoods housing tens of thousands of Flint residents. There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and effects are especially dangerous for children and pregnant residents.

The State of Michigan has not earned the public's trust in ensuring the safety of Flint's tap water supply, and has evaded accountability for addressing the water crisis it caused. Examples from 2018 include:
  • State officials ignored repeated community demands for transparency about comprehensive water quality measures, including fluctuating levels of lead and bacteria-killing chlorine. 
  • Governor Snyder publicly discredited and intimidated researchers examining concerning bacteria levels in Flint point-of-use water filters, including by pulling research funding. 
  • Rich Baird, Governor Snyder's lead cabinet employee for the Flint water crisis response, stole a Flint-based researcher's proposal for a comprehensive school water testing program that would intentionally involve members of the school community to build trust in the water testing results. He commissioned an outside researcher to do a watered-down version of the program without a component to rebuild trust. 
  • During recent water testing of Flint school faucets, State officials changed the water sampling procedure mid-way through three rounds of testing, apparently to obtain desired results for lead levels in the water. These test results were used by the State to declare that the water crisis was over, which lead to the abrupt end of bottled water for Flint residents. 
  • Meanwhile, as Flint residents pay one of the highest drinking water rates in the nation, the State nearly doubled the amount of water that Nestle can extract from Michigan to bottle and sell for profit, despite more thank 85,000 public comments against this move. Privatizing Michigan water is unjust for all of Michigan residents and signals a worrying trend in our state government.

Contact Governor Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Calley to tell them Flint needs bottled water until after all lead service lines are replaced, and their accountability and transparency are necessary for all of Michigan!

April 10, 2018

Join Us for a Factory Farm Action Training!

May 19: CAFOs 101 Citizen Training!
Photo credit: Jeff Vanuga, USDA/NRCS
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 tries to locate in your community 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 $10 donations to cover lunch accepted by non-profit sponsors

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

 
Questions? Email gail.philbin@sierraclub.org.

April 4, 2018

Detroit Environmental Justice Leader Unjustly Incarcerated for Defending Family from Assault

Siwatu-Salama Ra Sentenced to Two Years in Prison During High-Risk Pregnancy
Monday, April 2, 2018
Contact: 
April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org
Detroit, MI -- Earlier this month, Siwatu-Salama Ra, Co-Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), was sentenced to two years in prison for defending herself and her young child from an attacker. Siwatu is a member of the Sierra Club family, the daughter of Rhonda Anderson, a Sierra Club organizing manager in Detroit with nearly twenty years experience. Siwatu’s leadership at EMEAC has helped build community power through environmental justice education, youth development, and collaborative relationship building -- and Siwatu has emerged as a national and international environmental justice leader, participating in numerous conferences like COP21 in Paris.
Siwatu is 26, the mother of a 3 year old, and is 7 months pregnant. She came into contact with the criminal justice system because of an incident in which an attacker threatened to strike Siwatu, her three-year-old daughter and her mother with a car. Siwatu showed her legal, permitted, unloaded handgun in an attempt to scare off the attacker, as allowed by Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law. She did not fire the unloaded gun and no one was harmed.
Siwatu was unjustly arrested, tried and convicted of felony gun charges and sentenced to two years in prison. She is now experiencing a high-risk pregnancy in prison, and could be forced to deliver her child while incarcerated.
In response, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club released the following statement:
“Siwatu-Salama Ra is a powerful and inspiring leader in the Michigan environmental justice community, and a member of the Sierra Club family who has been unjustly incarcerated for defending herself and her family as should be permitted by law. Siwatu has spent her life fighting environmental injustice and pushing back against the big polluters who are violating the law to poison her community. She does this difficult work against the backdrop of a legal system and society that disproportionately oppress people of color, particularly Black women, at every turn. In this case, it does not appear that she is being afforded the protection of the law she deserves, as is all too often the case for women of color dealing with our criminal justice system. Black women are incarcerated at a rate four times higher than white women, and Siwatu’s case is a tragic example of this injustice.
“Her unjust incarceration during a high-risk pregnancy  is just one example of the racism people of color in our country experience every day. Her story underscores the reality that our struggles are all deeply connected - from environmental justice to the fight against racialized oppression in the criminal justice system. That’s why we join the voices across the country urging Siwatu’s sentence be commutated or that she be released on an appeal bond so that she can have a healthy pregnancy, raise her children, and exercise her rights free from injustice as everyone in this country should have the opportunity to do.”

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You can donate to her legal defense fund via You Caring and see FreeSiwatu.org

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 gail.philbin@sierraclub.org.

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 www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/a_clear_plan_to_decommission_line_5 

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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

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fOCVmvGJwYI/WG1fipZECaI/AAAAAAAABko/Fh1Qp1G6k_Ikr-1GbHBN_tlsqdqTHWg5wCLcB/s320/SC%2BLogo_Horiz%2B%2BWeb%2BGreen.png


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2018

Contact: Mike Berkowitz, (248) 345-9808, mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org

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.”

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