February 21, 2018

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


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.”


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/ liz@flowforwater.org
                                 Anne Woiwode 517-974-2112/ tawoiwode@gmail.com

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.

September 29, 2017

News Release: Sierra Club condemns decision by Entergy to reject Palisades Nuclear Power Plant buyout

For Immediate Release
Contact: Bruce Brown, Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group, admin@swmgsierrs.org

Sierra Club condemns decision by Entergy to reject Palisades Nuclear Power Plant buyout
Entergy plans to keep failing nuclear power plant open additional four years with no sign severe deficiencies in plant will be addressed

Sierra Club has called on Entergy, Consumers Energy and the Michigan Public Service Commission to keep the promise that the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant will be closed in 2018. This week, Entergy rejected a plan by Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to approve a proposed buyout of the power purchase agreement between Consumers Energy and Entergy at 79% of the amount proposed by the utility company. This announcement directly contradicts Entergy’s announcement in 2016 that they would close the troubled power plant in 2018. 

The following statement by Bruce Brown, Sierra Club leader in Southwest Michigan, was issued today:

The high cost of nuclear-powered electricity makes Entergy’s decision confounding. Entergy’s news release reiterated that it ‘remains committed to its strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business.’ Nuclear power can no longer compete in the wholesale electricity market. In recent years, the Louisiana-based company has closed, or announced plans to close, and sold off several of its nuclear plants. The cost of maintaining Palisades’ 46-year old buildings and equipment while meeting Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety standards can go nowhere but up.

“Meanwhile, the cost of wind- and solar-powered electricity is going nowhere but down—and fast. Moreover, Consumers and MPSC agreed that, with more and more lower-priced electricity coming online from renewable sources, Consumers doesn’t even need the overpriced electricity that the PPA will force it to keep buying from Palisades.
“Of the hundred or so public comments that MPSC received in its three public forums and through submissions to its online docket, almost all comments spoke of the plant’s threat to its neighbors, apprehension about the environmental effects of radioactive releases, and deep concern over high-level nuclear waste stockpiles that continue to build up at the site. The MPSC case could not address plant safety and proper handling of nuclear waste. Michiganders must not construe MPSC’s ruling as saying that the Commission believes Palisades to be safe and that its neighbors and the environment are in no danger.
"The Sierra Club remains unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy. All nuclear plants are dangerous. We are disappointed that the Palisades threat will continue beyond next October, and that electric ratepayers must continue to overpay.”


September 24, 2017

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter is Hiring a Political Organizer for 2018!

We are hiring!

Job Title: Political Organizer
Chapter: Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
Location: Sierra Club Michigan Chapter office in Lansing (some flexibility on location) with occasional travel required
Reports To: Chapter Legislative/Political Director and State Director
Timeline: January 2, 2018 – December 21, 2018
Hours: 28.5 hours a week (.76 FTE)

Context: Works with the Legislative and Political Director, Political Chair, Chapter Chair and Lead Lobbyist to help organize and implement the Political and Legislative program for Sierra Club Michigan Chapter for the 2018 election year.

Scope: The Political Organizer assists Sierra Club Michigan Chapter members in protecting the environment, with a focus on legislative and political campaigns. Helps run our political internship program, provides communications and writing support, trains activists, performs digital organizing, manages mailings, helps maintain our political action committee fund, helps organize citizen lobby days, performs research, supports coalition building, and lobbies at the state capitol.

Job Activities:
  1. Recruits and interviews political interns at colleges and universities across Michigan.
  2. Helps train political interns on organizing skills/strategies and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s priority issues, programs, and campaigns.
  3. Helps manage ongoing communication with political interns.
  4. Drafts and promotes press releases, action alerts, and newsletter articles.
  5. Gives public presentations on behalf of Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.
  6. Supports implementation of the chapter’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
  7. Provides administrative support for our legislative and political programs including event planning, data entry, and mailings.
  8. Helps organize citizen lobbying events and maintaining legislative scorecards.
  9. May attend hearings at the state capitol on behalf of our Legislative and Political Director.
  10. Engages supporters in effective advocacy, public education, and awareness-raising activities to achieve campaign goals.
  11. Recruits and supports non-intern volunteers to further the goals and priorities of the chapter.
  12. Other miscellaneous duties as assigned.
Knowledge and Skills:
  • Some experience in grassroots organizing, training, motivating volunteers, electoral/political campaigns, coalition building, and lobbying.
  • Demonstrated written and oral communication skills.  Demonstrated public speaking ability.
  • Some knowledge and background in Michigan politics.
  • Demonstrated ability and effectiveness working with volunteers.
  • Self-motivated with a demonstrated ability to work independently towards goals.
  • Valid driver’s license, satisfactory driving record, and proof of auto insurance required.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office applications, Google drive, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, websites, and constituent database management applications such as the Voter Activation Network (VAN) and Salesforce is preferred.
The Sierra Club offers competitive salary package commensurate with skills and experience plus excellent benefits that include medical, dental, and vision coverage, and a retirement savings 401(k) plan. This is a category 8 non-exempt position.
Sierra Club is a 501(c)(4) organization. Sierra Club does not sponsor H1B visas.
Sierra Club is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to a diverse workforce.