July 9, 2018

Sierra Club Endorses Gretchen Whitmer

Leading Environmental Group Is First To Endorse in 2018 Race

LANSING, MI—Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest environmental organization, today announced its endorsement of Gretchen Whitmer for governor, citing the Democratic candidate’s strong record and leadership on issues impacting Michigan’s public health and Great Lakes environment. 

This is the first announced environmental endorsement of a candidate for governor in either party in the 2018 Michigan election.

“Gretchen Whitmer is an extraordinary candidate and Sierra Club is excited to announce our strong endorsement of her as the next governor of the Great Lakes State,” said Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair.  “She brings something we have not had for eight years, which is a strong, decisive leader with a proven track record on public health, Michigan's environment and social justice.  

“Gretchen Whitmer's voice, values and experience are what Michigan desperately needs.  Following eight years of disastrous policies that have left communities like Flint badly diminished and protection of our lakes, rivers and streams put in the hands of corporate polluters, Gretchen Whitmer will again make people and our natural heritage a priority.”
Whitmer’s public health and environmental ratings were among the highest in the  state Legislature and included helping establish the state’s first renewable and efficiency standards to promote clean energy.  As a candidate for governor, Whitmer has prioritized protecting drinking water, combating climate change, ending the threat of oil pipelines in the Great Lakes and fighting environmental injustices  impacting Michigan families.

Gretchen Whitmer is a mom like me and wants what most of us want and that’s a healthy Michigan for our kids and our future,” said Deitra Porter, a Sierra Club member from the Detroit area.  “She cares about protecting our children and wants to make sure that government is on the side of families who need affordable, safe drinking water and early childhood education so their kids have the tools they need to protect the planet.  That’s why as a Sierra Club volunteer leader I support endorsing Gretchen Whitmer for Michigan’s next governor.”  

Patrick Egan, a Sierra Club member and resident of Brimley in the Upper Peninsula, cited Whitmer’s track record and commitment to protecting the Great Lakes.

"Michigan forests and the Great Lakes don't have a vote. Gretchen Whitmer was here and told us she will represent Michigan's priceless assets,” said Egan. “She will decommission the 65-year-old, obsolete oil pipeline that crosses over 200 Upper Peninsula bodies of water and keep all Michiganders safe from the dangers of Line 5."

Sierra Club’s endorsement of Whitmer came as a result of votes by the Michigan Chapter’s volunteer Political Committee and elected Executive Committee, both of which represent local Sierra Club groups and members throughout the state.  Under the club’s rules, a two-thirds vote is required for endorsement.  

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

June 29, 2018

Governor Snyder Signs Bills Giving Polluting Industries Control Over Environmental Protections in Michigan

Friday, June 29, 2018
April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org
LANSING, MI -- Today Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law two bills which allow industry lobbyists to rewrite the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) rulebook and overrule MDEQ permit decisions. Now signed into law, Senate Bills 652-653 will ultimately lead to more environmental and public health disasters like the Flint water crisis, toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, Nestle’s massive Great Lakes water withdrawal, and toxic air pollution hot spots in Detroit. Over two thousand Sierra Club activists contacted Gov. Snyder since the bills were passed to demand that he veto these dangerous bills, but he failed to do so. These bills will prevent impacted communities and residents concerned about industry pollution from having any say in permit and rule decisions.

“Michigan, like the rest of the nation, has already been robbed of our best protections against dangerous air and water pollution since Scott Pruitt took control of EPA,” said Rhonda Anderson, Organizing Manager for Sierra Club. “Now that this legislation has been signed by Governor Snyder, we’ll have our own Pruitt right here in Michigan, with polluting industries in direct control of our state environmental agency. Communities are already facing unacceptable levels of toxins and pollution in our state. The crisis in Flint has yet to be addressed. Now that Governor Snyder has given away control of our environmental protections in Michigan to big polluters, we are facing an unprecedented crisis of environmental injustice and public health.”

Gov. Snyder has also failed to implement recommendations developed by the Environmental Justice Work Group that he himself created following direct recommendations from the Flint Water Advisory Task Force and the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee’s Policy Subcommittee. The Work Group, which includes many prominent environmental justice community leaders, submitted their recommendations in March but have yet to see any response from the Governor.

"These bills give industry lobbyists and special interest groups overreaching powers into public health decisions,” said Michelle Martinez, Statewide Coordinator for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. “The levels of cancer and cardiovascular disease for our elders, and asthma in children, in areas of Southeast Michigan are costing our families billions of dollars every year, and for some residents forcing them to make harsh decision between medication and other life essentials. Why continue to roll back protections for clean air and clean water now after such staggering crisis like Flint? Instead we should be looking at implementing the Environmental Justice Recommendations put forth-- which have been sitting on Snyder's desk since March-- they provide real solutions, and steps to protect the Great Lakes and safeguard their residents today and in the future."

MDEQ already has a slipshod track record on public health. Allowing polluting industry officials to regulate themselves sets the state up for further health crises and long-lasting environmental degradation.

“The lack of transparency, poor responsiveness to public concerns, and continued negligence of the Michigan DEQ violates basic human rights,” said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative and Political Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “A public forum for community members to call attention to dangerous environmental problems, and to hold in check political pressure on agency staff is absolutely essential. Governor Snyder’s decision to sign these bills is a slap in the face to front-line communities dealing with environmental injustices and will further degrade the DEQ’s already terrible pattern of not listening to citizen concerns.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

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         media@dana2018.com

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: 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!