February 5, 2016

Sierra Club Phone Banks Educate Citizens about Redistricting

Help Us Put People Back in Democracy

Government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, but did you know that democracy in Michigan has been hi-jacked through a process called gerrymandering? Our state legislature, like many around the country, has drawn voting districts in which lawmakers choose their voters rather than designing competitive legislative districts where voters make the decisions. The public is cut out of a process that is used by those in power to protect their power and insulate themselves from accountability to their constituents.

When elected officials are less accountable to the people they represent, it makes it more difficult for Sierra Club to have an impact. To address this, we launched a new project in February to raise awareness among Michigan residents about the negative effect of redistricting on our democracy. 

We are hosting a series of phone banks from 4-8pm at our Lansing office every other week through September to reach out to Michiganders about an issue that ultimately affects the quality of our water, air and natural resources—in short, the quality of life.

 Phone bank schedule:
Thursday, Feb. 18
Monday, Feb. 29
Thursday, March 17
Monday, March 28
Thursday, April 14
Monday, April 25
Thursday, May 12
Monday, May 23

We need lots of volunteers for this to succeed! If you have just a few hours to spare to talk with fellow Michiganders, you can help. It’s extremely easy to do, using a short script with three simple questions to ask folks you call. For details or to volunteer, email amanda.adams@sierraclub.org

If you can’t make our office phone banks in Lansing, we can set you up for calling from the comfort of your own home. Click here to sign up: http://tinyurl.com/fixdemocracy

February 3, 2016

Sierra Club Challenges Permit for Fish Farm in Au Sable River

Sierra Club Challenges Permit for Fish Farm in Au Sable River
Hearing Before DEQ Administrative Law Judge Starts February 8

For More Information, including copies of the DEQ-issued Permit and Sierra Club Contested Case Petition challenging it, contact:
Marvin RobersonSierra Club Forest Ecologist:  (906) 360-0288   marvin.roberson@sierraclub.org

LANSING--The Sierra Club announced the commencement of a Contested Case Hearing against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The hearing is regarding a challenge to the Michigan DEQ issuance of a permit to operate the old Grayling Fish Hatchery, situated within the Au Sable River, as an industrial fish farm. The Au Sable is a world famous trout stream, and a destination for thousands of anglers annually.

The DEQ issued the permit to Harrietta Hills, Trout Farm, LLC, to operate the facility on July 1, 2014. The Sierra Club challenged the DEQ permit on August 11, 2014. The challenge was issued under the MDEQ Contested Case procedure, which is similar to a court trial, but held in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Sierra Club is asking the Administrative Law Judge to overturn the permit which allows the facility to operate.

According to Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club Forest Ecologist, the permit conditions are so lax as to pose a grave danger to the Au Sable ecosystem. “The DEQ issued a permit to operate an industrial scale fish farm right in the Au Sable River. This permit contains absolutely no limits on  the discharge of live fish, dead fish, fish parts, or fish parasites, pathogens, or diseases," said Roberson.

The Sierra Club contends that it is simply not possible to operate a commercial fish farm safely in a location such as the Grayling Hatchery. 

“This facility sits within the flow of the Au Sable. It is an incontrovertible fact that when fish farms are connected to natural bodies of water, animals and diseases move from the farm to the natural water body," said Roberson. 
“This permit seems to bode poorly for the future of safe aquaculture in the state of Michigan” Roberson said, in reference to a major push by the state to increase aquaculture in Michigan. “If the state is willing to allow unlimited live, dead, and diseased fish into a system as small and delicate as the Au Sable, imagine what they will allow into the Great Lakes”.

The hearing begins Monday, February 8 in Lansing, and is scheduled to conclude by Thursday, March 3. Anglers of the Au Sable, based in Grayling, have also filed a petition challenging the permit, and are also plaintiffs in the Contested Case proceeding.

January 21, 2016

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow To Headline Event Honoring Michigan Sierra Club’s Pioneering Leader Anne Woiwode

For Saturday, January 23, 2016

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow To Headline Event Honoring 
Michigan Sierra Club’s Pioneering Leader Anne Woiwode

Media Contact:   David Holtz 313-300-4454/david@davidholtz.org
Senator Debbie Stabenow will join other prominent environmental and public officials Saturday from 4pm to 6pm in Lansingfor an event honoring Anne Woiwode, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director who is retiring after 35 years of pioneering major environmental achievements for the Great Lakes State.

Who: Sen. Debbie Stabenowstate Sen. Curtis HertelSen. Gary Peters (staff), Michigan Sierra Club  and other environmental leaders and Honoree Anne Woiwode
What: Special Reception celebrating Anne Woiwode’s historic career with Sierra Club and her accomplishments, including establishing Michigan’s 90,000 acres of wilderness under the Michigan Wilderness Act 
When:  Event begins at 4pm to 6pm with speakers scheduled at 4:45pm
Where: Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, 600 West Maple Street, Lansing, MI

After serving as Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter Director since 1985, Anne Woiwode retired this month.  A former Meridian Township trustee, Woiwode was instrumental in the establishment of 90,000 acres of wilderness under the Michigan Wilderness Heritage Act in 1987.  Woiwode, who received national recognition in 2014 for her work, spearheaded Sierra Club’s efforts to protect rural families and farms from industrial agricultural pollution and is a nationally recognized expert on environmental policy and law.  She has testified on hundreds of environmental bills and is the foremost expert in Michigan on natural resource issues.   In recent years, Woiwode led the Sierra Club’s successful fight to halt the construction of nine proposed coal-fired plants in Michigan and to move the state away from reliance on polluting fossil fuels and toward clean energy.  Woiwode began her environmental work in Michigan as a Sierra Club volunteer leader in 1980.  On Saturday she will return to that volunteer role when she is expected to be appointed Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s Conservation Committee Chair. 

January 19, 2016

Sierra Club Seeks Political Interns for Summer and Fall 2016

 Sierra Club Michigan Chapter – 2016 Political Internships

What is the Sierra Club?
The Sierra Club's members and supporters are more than 2.4 million of your friends and neighbors.  Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. Founded in 1892, the Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Our mission is to: (1) Explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; (2) Practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; (3) Educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and (4) Use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

Internship Responsibilities
In this internship, you will directly assist candidates running for public office that the Sierra Club has endorsed. The Sierra Club has an extremely rigorous endorsement process and focuses on the most competitive races with the best environmentally-minded candidates. In this internship, we will train you on the basic skills of campaign organizing, educate you about environmental issues impacted by politics, and then deploy you to be part of a candidate’s campaign for somewhere between one to five months (depending on your schedule). Potential responsibilities include helping organize fundraisers for a candidate, coordinating voter contact, organizing phone banks, recruiting Sierra Club members to volunteer for a candidate, canvassing, coordinating press conferences and press releases for a candidate, helping with a candidate’s earned media strategy, running social media accounts for a candidate, policy or campaign research, performing data entry and office work.

The ideal applicant will have an interest in politics, knowledge or interest in environmental issues,
be proficient in Microsoft Office applications, and have experience with google drive, facebook, twitter, blogs, and email.  Applicants must be able to communicate effectively, take direction on projects, work independently, be flexible, and be prepared for a fun and fast-paced campaign environment.

Internship positions are available in 2016 for summer (July-August) and fall (September-November) semesters, and are able to be shortened or extended as needed. This internship unpaid but comes with a small stipend to offset some food/gas costs, and can earn you class credit (you will need to work this out with your academic advisor). The internship is coordinated through our Lansing office but you will be deployed to work for a campaign that will likely not be in Lansing.  Internship training is required and takes place in July and September. Internships can be arranged for between 10 to 40 hours per week, with flexible scheduling.

To apply, send your resume to Mike Berkowitz at mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org, with a brief (one-two paragraphs) statement describing your interest in this internship.

People who participate in this Political Internship often go on to achieve professional and academic success. After interning, multiple interns have become lawyers, social workers, political campaign managers, Sierra Club employees, staffers for other non-profit organizations, elected officials, and professors. Many former interns also achieve leadership roles within the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter such as Political Committee Representatives, Legislative Committee Representatives, Citizen Lobbyists, and campaign leaders.

January 18, 2016

Citizens Groups Call for Expanded Voting Rights on MLK Day

News from Engage Michigan

January 18, 2016

Contact: Marissa Luna, 989-798-3051marissa@engagemichigan.org

Citizens Groups Call for Expanded Voting Rights on MLK Day
Legislators should make voting more accessible

MICHIGAN – Today, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., voting rights groups are calling on elected leaders in Lansing to expand citizens’ voting rights and oppose voter suppression legislation. 

Several bills were introduced and/or passed in 2015 that would negatively impact voters’ ability to participate in elections. Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill to eliminate straight ticket voting. Another bill that was introduced would put up numerous roadblocks to local officials who want to make voting more convenient and accessible in their communities.

The organizations listed below sign on to the following statement:

“Voting is our right and our responsibility. The integrity of our elections depends on every eligible citizen being able to register and cast their ballot. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that and dedicated his life to ensuring that every eligible citizen in America had the right to participate in our democracy. We continue in 2016 in carrying on his quest by urging our representatives to modernize and streamline elections in order to make voting more accessible, convenient, accurate, and fair.”

Michigan State Conference NAACP
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Fair Elections Legal Network
League of Women Voters of Michigan
Michigan Election Reform Alliance
Michigan Muslim Community Council
Michigan Center for Election Law
American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan


November 29, 2015

Citizens for Michigan’s Energy Future Ad Shows Utilities are Behind Bad Energy Bills

News from Clean Energy Now
September 21, 2015
Contact: Marissa Luna, 989-798-3051marissa@engagemichigan.org

Citizens for Michigan’s Energy Future Ad Shows Utilities are Behind Bad Energy Bills
Ad seeks to mislead public to support bills that eliminate Michigan’s renewable energy, energy efficiency standards

MICHIGAN – Citizens for Michigan’s Energy Future (CMEF), a utility front group, released an ad this month calling for public support for legislation introduced in the Michigan House and Senate to eliminate Michigan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The misleading ad falsely claims that Michigan will face power shortages unless electric utilities are given carte blanche to build expensive, dirty power plants instead of abiding by state standards for greater energy efficiency and renewable energy. 

“We’ve known from the beginning that this campaign was designed to mislead the public and promote investments in fossil fuels instead of clean energy. This new ad shows that utility companies are the ones behind the legislative effort to protect their bottom line and block expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Michigan,” said Nic Clark, state director for Clean Water Action.

Michigan’s utilities have obstructed efforts to further expand renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in the state since they were implemented in 2008, despite evidence that these measures can protect public health and Michigan’s Great Lakes, bring more jobs to the state, save people money on utility bills, and mitigate climate change.

“Utilities should support legislation that protects public health, saves customers money, and reduces our use of polluting fossil fuels like coal and natural gas,” said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative Director, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Instead, they’re doing the opposite – funding an astro-turf campaign to support bills that gut Michigan’s clean energy policies and preclude people from producing their own energy through solar panels. In order to hold utilities accountable to making clean energy investments, which they clearly won’t do on their own, we must increase our state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.”


Clean Energy Now is a coalition of groups that supports policies that will move Michigan beyond coal power and toward greater use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency as a way to protect the environment and build prosperity. Follow the campaign at CleanEnergyNowMI.org.