May 24, 2018

Five Questions On Line 5 For Michigan's Next Governor

LANSING, MI--Leading Democratic and Republican candidates for Michigan’s next governor are meeting Thursday, May 31 on Mackinac Island for a debate hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Mackinac Island is ground zero for an Enbridge oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac.  A new EPIC-MRI poll made public today shows 87 percent of likely voters in Michigan’s November election are concerned about a Great Lakes oil spill from Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits .
Sierra Club and Clean Water Action Think Candidates for Governor Should Answer the Following Questions as They Debate on Mackinac Island in the Shadow of Dangerous Line 5:
1) As Governor will you use your authority to shut down Enbridge Line 5 and keep all oil pipelines out of the Great Lakes?

2) Will you pledge today to not accept any campaign contributions from political action committees or individuals connected with Enbridge Energy or the oil industry?

3) Enbridge Energy has violated its agreement with the State of Michigan to operate Line 5 by failing to maintain anchor supports as required and allowing protective pipeline coatings to deteriorate.  Will you as Governor use your authority to revoke the state’s easement agreement with Enbridge for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac?

4) Will you state unequivocally that you oppose any replacement scheme for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac that keeps oil pipelines in the Great Lakes, including a tunnel through the Straits?

5) The Treaty of 1836 establishes the right to fish in the Straits of Mackinac for Michigan’s Native American tribes. This right is dependent on a healthy ecosystem to support fish stocks.   Do you agree that this Treaty prevents the state from legally permitting a tunnel, trench or other pipeline construction that would damage the ecological resources of the Straits and leave Native American fishing rights at risk from an oil pipeline rupture?

May 15, 2018

Press Release: Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Endorses Dana Nessel for Michigan Attorney General

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact: Angela Vasquez-Giroux Wittrock
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Endorses Dana Nessel for Michigan Attorney General
Laud Nessel’s deep commitment to protecting public health, Great Lakes

LANSING -- Noting her pledge to shut down Enbridge Line 5 as her first act in office and her unwavering commitment to protecting public health and the Great Lakes, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter has endorsed Dana Nessel for Michigan Attorney General, her campaign announced today.

“Given the unprecedented challenges facing our Great Lakes, our climate, and public health, getting Dana Nessel elected as Michigan's next Attorney General is one of our top priorities,” said Mike Berkowitz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Legislative and Political Director. “In contrast, Bill Schuette is the worst environmental Attorney General we've had in decades, leading the charge against air emission safeguards, disregarding the impacts of climate change, and consistently siding with corporate polluters. Dana Nessel will restore integrity and the values of environmental justice to the office of the Attorney General.”

The Sierra Club is a grassroots organization whose political strength is in educating and mobilizing environmental voters. In backing Dana Nessel, the Sierra Club brings with them their 150,000 Michigan members and supporters who will stand with Dana and work hard to make sure she wins in November.

“For the past 15 years, the office of Michigan Attorney General has been used to protect the bottom line of wealthy corporations, even as they pollute our air and poison our water to increase their profits,” Nessel said. “That stops on my first day in office. I’ll shut down Enbridge Line 5 and put the power of the AG’s office where it belongs: protecting the people of Michigan, and holding corporate polluters accountable when they harm our communities and our natural treasures.”

Nessel, a noted civil rights attorney and former Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor, is the Michigan Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for state Attorney General.  She’s earned the endorsement of a broad coalition of community leaders, elected officials, advocacy organizations and labor unions, including the Democratic Attorneys General Association, Michigan Association for Justice, the Michigan Education Association and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.


Dana Nessel is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School. She was most recently managing partner of Nessel & Kessel Law, located in Detroit, and has nearly 25 years of legal experience. In 2012, she spearheaded the precedent-setting case, DeBoer v. Snyder, which challenged bans on adoption and marriage for same-sex couples in Michigan. She’s a fighter for Michigan residents.

April 20, 2018



Mike Berkowitz


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:

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:

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

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

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
April Thomas, 206.321.3850,
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.”


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