May 24, 2016

New Study Finds LBWL’s Proposed Energy Plan Misses Opportunities for Clean Energy, Customer Savings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2016

Media Contacts:
Regina Strong, 248.991.5701regina.strong@sierraclub.org  

LBWL’s Plan Lacks Definite Retirement Dates for Erickson and Eckert Coal Plants; Overlooks Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Lansing, MI -- Tonightresults of a study on energy options for Lansing-area residents conducted by MSB Energy Associates and Evans Power Consulting for the Sierra Club revealed that LBWL has missed potential cost savings and positive health impacts for Capital Area residents.  According to the study, the savings could be realized by including a wider range of options in Lansing Board of Water and Light’s (LBWL) plan for Lansing’s energy future, which is currently being considered by the utility’s Board of Commissioners.

Study results were presented during the comment period at the LBWL Board of Commissioners meeting this evening.  Expert analysis of publicly available information used to create the LBWL’s Citizens Advisory Committee’s plan revealed serious flaws in the process, which could lead to wasteful, costly and unnecessary investments by the utility.

Significant problems with the IRP Report include:
  • The failure to evaluate an earlier retirement date for the Erickson coal-fired power plant;
  • The failure to include reasonable energy efficiency and demand response goals, which could reduce the need for new capacity;
  • The failure to include all resources in the modeling, leading the model to overpredict the need for capacity by approximately 80-200 MW; and
  • The failure to consider a scenario that would minimize environmental and health impacts.
A poll released last week found that support for clean, renewable energy is strong among Lansing-area voters, with three-quarters of voters voicing preferences for using more renewable energy and energy efficiency over continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Announcing the new report,  Brad van Guilder, Sierra Club Michigan Beyond Coal Campaign's Lansing Organizer released the following statement:

“Our study highlights the fact that LBWL has left out  many options for a cleaner, more responsible energy future for the Lansing area. It is time to set realistic dates for phasing out both the Eckert and Erickson coal power plants to limit potential costs down the road for LBWL and its customers. Pushing the retirement of the Erickson plant too far into the future would incur more health costs for Lansing residents, increase potential costs to meet environmental standards, and delay community planning for a transition away from coal.

“Lansing area residents could benefit greatly from a plan that maximizes both energy efficiency and renewable energy, taking advantage of clean technology that continues to become cheaper and more cost-effective. Instead, the IRP Report proposes to continue to rely on dirty fossil fuels, potentially wasting tens if not hundreds of millions of customer dollars.  

“LBWL must fix the issues identified by our experts and provide the people of Lansing with a fair and transparent understanding of its resource options. LBWL is a publicly-owned utility, and it should be providing the public with the best information and options possible as the city plans its energy future.”

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May 20, 2016

Groundbreaking New Poll to Measure Community Attitudes on a Proactive Plan to Phase out BWL’s Coal Powered Plants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2016

TELEPRESSER:
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ALL POLLING DOCUMENTS


Media Contacts:
Ricky Junquera, 617.599.7048, ricky.junquera@sierraclub.org  

Groundbreaking New Poll to Measure Community Attitudes on a Proactive Plan to Phase out BWL’s Coal Powered Plants
Poll highlights overwhelming support for a move away from coal and toward renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Lansing, MI -- Lansing Board of Water and Light (LBWL) is the largest municipal utility in the state of Michigan. The utility serves Lansing, Michigan’s Capital city, as well as the town of East Lansing and the surrounding townships of Delta, Delhi, Meridian and DeWitt. LBWL has demonstrated some willingness to respond to community concerns. Beginning last fall, the utility brought together a Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) and held a series of public meetings to consider options for power generation going forward. LBWL has indicated its intention to close the remaining units of the Eckert power plant but has not addressed the fate of the Erickson plant.

Global Strategy Group (GSG), a leading national polling firm, recently conducted a 400-interview survey of registered voters in Lansing, East Lansing, and Lansing Township between May 11th and May 12th, 2016 on behalf of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign to measure support for a transition away from coal in Lansing.

That polling found that:

  • Lansing voters are strongly in favor of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Three quarters think their part of Michigan should be using more renewable energy (76%) and energy efficiency (75%). On the other hand, only 40% think their part of Michigan should be using more natural gas power, and a strong majority feel that it should use less coal (64%).
  • Support for both proposals independently is high, but the proposal with the 100% renewable goal has much more intense support. The 100% renewable proposal (72% support) and the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s proposal (68% support) are equally well-supported at the broadest level, but only 32% strongly support the LBWL proposal, while 47% strongly support the 100% renewable proposal.
  • Pitted against each other, the 100% renewable proposal comes out on top by a solid margin (51% support 100% renewable/32% support LBWL).
  • Further, voters’ preference here is durable, withstanding after voters hear arguments from both sides. After they hear a message in support of each proposal, levels of support in the head-to-head choice remain essentially the same, with the 100% renewable proposal increasing its lead by four points (53% support 100% renewable/30% support LBWL).

After reviewing the findings of Sierra Club’s commissioned Lansing poll, Brad van Guilder, Sierra Club Michigan Beyond Coal Campaign's Lansing Organizer said,

“These findings show an across the board support for maximizing clean energy and energy efficiency. We should be willing to at least consider the question of, what is the economic capacity for both wind and solar projects within the system for a Lansing energy future. If over time that answer results in lower rates and a cleaner environment then, I think the process for deciding where we will get our energy going forward would not be complete. We have an opportunity now, when retiring all of our coal generated power, to replace aged out generation with whatever makes the most sense for the people of our community.”

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About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 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 19, 2016

Leading Michigan environmental groups blast Nofs energy plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Contact: Nick Dodge, (517) 333-1606

Leading Michigan environmental groups blast Nofs energy plan


Environmental, conservation groups agree: Nofs energy plan a dangerous step backwards for Michigan


LANSING – Environmental groups across Michigan today sent a strong public message slamming the energy bills introduced by State Senator Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek). As Senator Nofs attempts to gather enough votes to move the bills out of committee, environmental groups warn that removing or weakening energy efficiency and renewable energy standards will increase dangerous pollution and increase costs.

"The good news for Michigan is that our efforts over the last seven years have resulted in record low prices for renewable energy. The bad news is that utilities are not taking advantage of those opportunities to protect our public health and the pocketbooks of Michigan families,” said James Clift, Policy Director of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The Nofs energy plan fails to utilize inexpensive renewable energy that would cut costs and reduce dangerous pollution.”

“The Nofs plan is irresponsible and would destroy Michigan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards that curb dangerous pollution and protect our land, air and water,” said Clay Carpenter, Campaign Organizer for Clean Water Action. “It’s time for Michigan residents to take control of our energy future and hold big polluters accountable for spewing dangerous pollution into our air, lakes, rivers and streams.”

“We need an energy plan that reduces pollution, reduces waste and cuts costs for ratepayers,” said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative Director of theSierra Club Michigan Chapter. The Nofs energy plan gets rid of Michigan’s energy efficiency standard, which holds utilities accountable for costs, reins in energy waste, and protects us from air pollution.”

“Energy efficiency and renewable energy maintain affordability, lower ratepayer risk and reduce pollution, yet Michigan continues to over-rely on burning coal imported from other states,” said Sam Gomberg, Lead Midwest Energy Analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The Nofs energy plan undermines the progress Michigan has made in terms of expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency that provide significant benefits to ratepayers and create clean energy jobs right here in Michigan.”

“It would be a shame to see energy efficiency programming slashed in West Michigan with the passage of the Nofs energy bills,” said Nick Occhipinti, Policy Director of WMEAC. “We need an energy policy that is clean and fair and holds big utility companies accountable while moving Michigan toward a sustainable energy future.”

"This bill represents wrong-headed thinking that does almost nothing to support the expansion of jobs in the clean energy sector, and it perpetuates old strategies that will continue to trigger poor health for thousands of Michiganders,” said Guy O. Williams, President and CEO of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. “The Nofs energy plan allows utilities to keep polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink, threatening Michigan’s most vulnerable populations.”

“The Nofs energy plan would increase dangerous pollution and threaten the health and well-being of Michigan residents,” said Alexis Blizman,Legislative and Policy Director of the Ecology Center. “With asthma rates well above the national average, Michigan’s energy policy should reduce dangerous pollution through strong standards that protect public health.” 

“Michigan needs strong energy legislation that encourages innovation, competition and choice. The Nofs energy plan hinders innovation by requiring Michiganders to pay for the energy they generate themselves,” said Margrethe Kearney, Staff Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Rather than taking a step backward, we should be working to create policy that allows consumers to make the best choices for their individual energy use and for Michigan’s energy future.”
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April 18, 2016

SIERRA CLUB MAKES EARLY ENDORSEMENTS FOR LEGISLATIVE RACES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 18, 2016                                    

CONTACT:
Mike Berkowitz
248-345-9808
mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org


SIERRA CLUB MAKES EARLY ENDORSEMENTS FOR LEGISLATIVE RACES


The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, a non-partisan environmental protection organization, today announced its first round of candidate endorsements in Michigan’s upcoming state house and congressional elections. Early endorsements are reserved for incumbents with proven pro-environment records and challengers who have a strong objective commitment to the principles of the Sierra Club. These endorsements precede the April 19 candidate filing deadline for the Michigan House of Representatives and US Congress.

“These Sierra Club endorsed candidates are champions 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 endorsed candidates. We will work hard to ensure they are sent to Lansing or DC next year.”

Sierra Club has endorsed the following candidates for Congress:

Lon Johnson (D-1)
Dan Kildee (D-5)
Paul Clements (D-6)
Gretchen Driskell (D-7)
Melissa Gilbert (D-8)
Sander Levin (D-9)
Debbie Dingell (D-12)
John Conyers (D-13)
Brenda Lawrence (D-14)

Sierra Club-Michigan Chapter also endorsed the following candidates for State Representative:

Rose Mary Robinson (D-4)
Fred Durhal (D-5)
Stephanie Chang (D-6)
Leslie Love (D-10)
Julie Plawecki (D-11)
Erika Geiss (D-12)
Kristy Pagan (D-21)
Henry Yanez (D-25)
Robert Wittenberg (D-27)
Jeremy Moss (D-35)
Chris Greig (D-37)
Martin Howrylak (R-41)
Yousef Rabbi (D-53)
Adam Zemke (D-55)
Jon Hoadley (D-60)
Annie Brown (D-66)
Tom Cochran (D-67)
Andy Schor (D-68)
Sam Singh (D-69)
Theresa Abed (D-71)
Winnie Brinks (D-76)
Collene LaMonte (D-91)
Vanessa Guerra (D-95)
Bryan Mielke (D-99)
Dan Scripps (D-101)


“Sierra Club volunteers from among the organization’s approximately 80,000 Michigan members and supporters will work with endorsed candidates in their own districts, identifying and recruiting other likely 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 the recent weakening of pollution protection and enforcement, 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 all candidates based on their environmental history, voting records and policy positions through candidate interviews and responses to candidate questionnaires.

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 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide, and over 80,000 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 13, 2016

Enbridge Line 5 Operating Illegally

Snyder, Schuette asked to shut down “Line 5” over easement violations

Media Contacts:  Liz Kirkwood, FLOW, liz@flowforwater.org, office: 231-944-1568; cell: 570-872-4956 and David Holtz, Sierra Club, 313-300-4454/david@davidholtz.org

Citing new research and documentation revealing cracks, dents, corrosion, and structural defects in the twin oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits, 22 environmental and tribal groups today formally requested that Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette shut down “Line 5” oil in the Straits based on Enbridge’s multiple easement violations.

The violations mean Enbridge is operating illegally and has broken its legal agreement with the state and people of Michigan.

Enbridge’s ongoing violations related to pipeline design threaten the very safety and health of the Great Lakes, and thus trigger the state’s duty to enforce its agreement with Enbridge. Under the 1953 easement, the state must provide Canadian-based energy transporter Enbridge 90 days to resolve any known easement violations. The state now has substantial legal and factual cause to terminate the agreement with Enbridge to stop the oil flow and protect the Great Lakes, public water supplies, and the Pure Michigan economy, according to an April 13 letter to Snyder and Schuette, signed by partner groups in the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign.
 
“The law and this easement agreement are clear: state leaders cannot wait another year or more while Enbridge continues to violate safety conditions it agreed to and withholds safety inspection and other data from the public and the state,” said environmental attorney Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW (For Love of Water) in Traverse City. “Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette must start the clock to terminate the state’s easement agreement that allows Enbridge to operate the Line 5 pipelines on state-owned bottomlands and waters.”

“The law and this easement agreement are clear: state leaders cannot wait another year or more while Enbridge continues to violate safety conditions it agreed to and withholds safety inspection and other data from the public and the state." - Liz Kirkwood, Environmental Attorney, Executive Director of FLOW (For Love of Water)

In their letter, the groups identified eight specific violations of the easement and state law, including:
  • Concealing information about cracks, dents, and corrosion with continued, sweeping assertions and misrepresentations that the Straits pipelines are in “excellent condition, almost as new as when they were built and installed” and have “no observed corrosion.” Of the nine rust spots on the eastern Straits pipeline, corrosion has eaten away 26 percent of the pipeline’s wall thickness in a 7-inch-long area, according to newly released company data.
  • Failing to meet the pipeline wall thickness requirement due to corrosion and manufacturing defects. Newly released Enbridge data reveals that manufacturing defects in the 1950s resulted in pipeline wall thickness of less than half an inch in perhaps hundreds of sections and up to 41 percent less thick than mandated on the west Straits pipeline. Enbridge continues to boast about its “nearly one-inch-thick walls of Line 5’s steel pipe travelling under the Straits.”
  • Failing to meet the “reasonably prudent person” provision by claiming that its steel pipelines lying underwater just west of the Mackinac Bridge since 1953 can last forever and do not require a plan for eventual decommissioning. The 63-year-old pipelines were built to last 50 years.
  • Failing to demonstrate adequate liability insurance, maintain required coating and wood-slat covering to prevent rust and abrasion and adequately support the pipeline, resulting in stressed and deformed segments.
  • Failing to adhere to federal emergency spill response and state environmental protection laws, including Act 10 of P.A. 1953, the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (“GLSLA”), the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (“MEPA”), and public trust law.

March 25, 2016

Enbridge Must Release All Pipeline Safety Documents for Risky “Line 5” in the Straits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 24, 2016


Enbridge Must Release All Pipeline Safety 
Documents for Risky “Line 5” in the Straits
Amid New Concerns About Great Lakes Safety, Groups Back State's
Demand For Immediate Transparency from Canadian Pipeline Giant


Media Contacts:  Lynna Kaucheck 313-486-1356/lkaucheck@fwwatch.org, Liz Kirkwood 231 944 1568/liz@flowforwater.org, David Holtz 313-300-4454/david@davidholtz.org


Citizens groups today were sharply critical of Enbridge Energy’s failure to comply with demands by state officials to disclose information on the safety of Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.

In a March 11 letter to Enbridge, top state environmental officials and Attorney General Bill Schuette—citing “continuing concerns about potential risks” from the Straits pipelines—gave  Enbridge 30 days to comply with their request for detailed information on the twin pipelines.  The letter follows disclosures earlier this year by Enbridge of corrosion in the pipelines.

“Enbridge’s refusal to make pipeline safety inspection and other data publicly available raises serious questions that require answers that only Enbridge can provide,” said David Holtz, Chair of Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee.   “Enbridge needs to come clean on what they know and what they aren’t telling us about oil pipelines that pose a huge threat to the Great Lakes.”

In their letter to Enbridge, state officials demanded pipeline inspection, integrity, operating pressure and other information including the impact of invasive mussels that cover the pipelines.  Inspection records from 2013 show corrosion in nine spots, but the documents release by Enbridge consisted of a summary.  Other pipeline information previously shared with the state was of limited value because they were in read-only format.  Schuette, along with Keith Creagh, interim director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and William Moritz, interim director of theMichigan Department of Natural Resources, asked for detailed pipeline inspection documents and videos along with the company’s own evaluations, assessments and reports on the pipelines.

According to the state’s March 11 letter, Enbridge has asserted that the pipeline information is protected from disclosure because of confidentiality and security.  The state has challenged Enbridge’s claims.

“The public is entitled to know what Enbridge knows about the safety of those pipelines,” said Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director, FLOW.   “Enbridge is going all around the state telling people that these pipelines are safe, that we shouldn’t worry about the risk of a pipeline rupture in the Great Lakes.  But their refusal to release these pipeline safety documents speak much louder than their words.”

State officials noted that pipeline safety inspection and other data are critically important to assessing risks posed by the pipelines, something that a state pipeline safety advisory board is currently evaluating as part of a process that is also looking at the future of Line 5 in the Straits.

“Shutting down Line 5 is the only real option for protecting the Great Lakes,” said Lynna Kaucheck, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch.  “It becomes clearer each and every day just how risky it is for us to be trusting Enbridge’s word on safety.”

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For a copy of the State of Michigan’s letter to Enbridge email david@davidholtz.org

March 16, 2016

Sierra Club to lawmakers: Increased clean energy standards can’t wait

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Contact: Jen Flood, Byrum & Fisk Communications, (586) 531-8767

Sierra Club to lawmakers: Increased clean energy standards can’t wait

LANSING—More than 70 members of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter today traveled from across the state to meet with lawmakers to discuss the future of Michigan’s energy policy.

“We simply cannot wait any longer to pass clean energy policy that builds on the successes of our thriving clean energy sector,” said Mike Berkowitz, legislative and political director of Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.  “Utility companies may spend millions of dollars on corporate lobbyists and television ads, but Sierra Club members today are pushing back and urging legislators to do the right thing and increase our renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.”

The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter has organized more than 400 meetings between citizen activists and lawmakers this session alone. The organization represents more than 80,000 environmentally conscientious citizens across Michigan.

“I’m proud to be a sponsor of legislation to build on the success of our clean energy sector—reducing pollution, creating jobs and launching new businesses in our state,” said State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor), Democratic vice chair of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee. “When it comes to reducing pollution and protecting public health, we can’t afford to wait.”
The Sierra Club has been aggressively urging members of the Michigan House and Senate to increase the renewable energy standard to 30 percent by 2030 and the energy efficiency standard to 2 percent.

“I urge my colleagues to take action on our energy future,” said Rep. Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights). “Increasing our renewable energy and energy efficiency standards will provide much-needed cost savings for Michigan families and businesses. Thanks to advances in technology, the cost of renewable energy has declined drastically over the past five years. Michigan has the highest energy costs in the region and it’s crucial that we manage these costs to grow our economy and create jobs.”

Reports from the Michigan Public Service Commission show that investment in renewable energy has leveled off as the state met its goal of generating 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

“The right to breathe clean air should not depend on your income or skin color, which is why our legislators need to act now to increase our clean energy standards,” said Dorthea Thomas, Environmental & Climate Justice Organizer for Michigan United and Sierra Club Executive Committee Member. “Pollution disproportionately affects low-income and communities of color who are much more likely to live close to a power plant.”

“It’s time for Michigan to reduce its over-reliance on burning coal and transition to more renewable energy and energy efficiency to reduce pollution,” said Dave Errickson, R.N. and Sierra Club Central Michigan Group Chair. “Increasing our renewable energy and energy efficiency standards will reduce dangerous pollution and protect the health of Michigan families.”
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