September 20, 2017

NEWS RELEASE: Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Announces 2017 Award Winners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter 
Announces 2017 Award Winners
Lansing, MI – An East Lansing state official who strengthened and guided Michigan energy policy, the Michigan author of a groundbreaking report examining diversity within the nation’s environmental organizations, and Michigan journalists are among those receiving awards from the Michigan Chapter of Sierra Club this year.

The Michigan Chapter’s top award for public officials, the Jane Elder Environmental Leader of the Year, will be presented to State Rep. Sam Singh, the state House Democratic Leader who was essential in passing strong clean energy legislation in 2016.  Singh earned a 100% environmental voting record from Sierra Club in the 2015-16 legislative session.

“Sam Singh’s leadership and persistence in supporting a clean energy economy for Michigan came at a critically important time for our state when lawmakers had to decide whether we would continue on our path of cleaner air and renewable energy,” said David Holtz, Chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee.  “Leader Singh’s commitment to a clean energy future will benefit Michigan families for years to come.  He has truly earned the honor of being Sierra Club’s Environmental Leader of the Year.”

The Burton V. Barnes Award, which honors academic excellence in support of the environment, will be presented to Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.  Taylor’s groundbreaking report, "The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations", highlights the racial, gender, class and cultural disparities among environmental organizations throughout the nation.

WTVS Detroit Public TV’s report, Toxic Town: Michigan’s Most Polluted Zip Code and MLive journalist Garret Ellison’s enterprise reporting onEnbridge’s controversial Great Lakes Line 5 oil pipelines and Nestle’sgroundwater withdrawals in Michigan earned Sierra Club’s top environmental journalism honors this year.

Another top award, the White Pine Award, will be presented to Traverse City-based For the Love of Water (FLOW) for extraordinary dedication by an organization to Michigan’s environment.

Detroit activist Theresa Landrum will receive the Bunyan Bryant Environmental Justice Award for her leadership in fighting pollution in Detroit’s neighborhoods. 

Other awards include:

The Marlene Fluharty Award will be presented to Chapter Chair David Holtz of East Lansing for his Sierra Club leadership in Michigan and at the national level.

Brimley resident Patrick Egan will receive the Michigan Chapter Chair’s Award for leadership as a member of the Chapter’s Executive Committee and as Finance Chair.

Ann Arbor resident Richard Morley Barron will receive the Theodore Roosevelt Political Leadership Award in recognition of his leadership as Chair of the Michigan Chapter Political Committee.

Everyl Yankee of Morrice will receive the Sylvania Award for excellence in leadership involving a new Sierra Club volunteer.

Montrose resident Denny Crispell will receive the Vince Smith Award for outstanding dedication to Sierra Club’s outings program.

The Trillium Award honors for outstanding youth environmental activism will go to East Lansing resident Sarah Tresedder for her strong commitment in supporting Sierra Club’s legislative, political and agricultural advocacy work.

The Ed Steinman Digital Excellence Award will honor Portage resident Bruce Brown for outstanding social media in support of the Southwest Michigan Sierra Club Group.

Brighton’s Lee Burton, chair of the Sierra Club Crossroads Group, will receive the Life of the Party Award, which honors volunteers who take seriously the Sierra Club’s credo “to enjoy the wild places of the Earth.”

The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s Annual Meeting on January 20, 2018 in Lansing. 

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September 6, 2017

NEWS RELEASE: Sierra Club Michigan highlights benefits of fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for air, land and Great Lakes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 6, 2017
CONTACT: Mike Berkowitz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, (248) 345-9808
Sierra Club Michigan highlights benefits of fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for air, land and Great Lakes
EPA urged to maintain current standards ahead of this week’s Washington hearing

LANSING ­– Sierra Club Michigan Chapter today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to maintain current fuel economy standards that protect our air, land and Great Lakes. Under the Trump Administration, the EPA is reconsidering previously finalized clean cars standards that reduce tailpipe carbon pollution, improve fuel economy, and combat climate change.

“By reconsidering these critical clean air protections, President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have once again clearly demonstrated they don’t care about the future of Michigan’s air, land and Great Lakes,” said Mike Berkowitz, political director at Sierra Club Michigan. “Today’s strong federal clean vehicle and fuel economy standards have sparked innovation and investment while reducing pollution in the air we breathe, and any attempt by the Trump Administration to roll back these crucial policies would be a massive step backward for Michigan families and for the health of our environment.”

A recent Chicago Tribune report detailed how exhaust from tailpipe pollution, diesel engines and factory smoke stacks already causes excessive smog in many areas throughout the Great Lakes region. Berkowitz said vehicle efficiency and carbon pollution standards, which combat climate change, are one important strategy to prevent air quality from further worsening.

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August 30, 2017

Erosion of Line 5 enamel coating another clear sign of grave risk posed by aging pipelines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 30, 2017

CONTACT: David Holtz, Oil & Water Don’t Mix, (313) 300-4454


Erosion of Line 5 enamel coating another clear sign of grave risk posed by aging pipelines 

Oil & Water Don’t Mix: State must step in where Enbridge won’t, and shut down Line 5

LANSING – Citizens groups today said Enbridge Energy’s acknowledgment of enamel erosion in three areas of the Line 5 pipelines is yet another signal that the aging pipelines have been improperly maintained, posing a daily threat to the Great Lakes and Michigan’s economy.  Oil & Water Don’t Mix called for the State of Michigan to go beyond calling only for repairs to the enamel, and shut down the aging pipelines due to their unacceptable risk to the Great Lakes.

“Nearly every detail that comes to light about Line 5 points to decades of negligence on the part of Enbridge Energy, and today’s revelation that enamel coating is wearing off the pipelines simply adds to the long list of unacceptable risks Line 5 poses to Michigan,” said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of For Love of Water (FLOW). “Given their track record of negligence, we can’t trust Enbridge Energy to give us the whole story, maintain the pipelines or ensure every possible safeguard against a catastrophic Great Lakes oil spill. Rather than calling only for repairs of the coating, the State of Michigan must shut down Line 5 due to the unacceptable risk posed to our state.”

Kirkwood also said continuing violations of Enbridge’s Line 5 easement agreement should compel state officials to begin the process of decommissioning the controversial pipelines in the Straits.

A stakeholder email sent by an Enbridge official today read, in part: “Results from the August aquatic organism study will not be available for several weeks following the completion of the study; however, during the course of the associated inspection of the pipelines enamel coating, Enbridge has confirmed two locations containing small areas where there is pipeline without coating. A third location also has a possible small area of bare metal which is still being evaluated."
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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. Learn more at www.oilandwaterdontmix.org.

August 23, 2017

LBWL Agrees to Retire Erickson Coal Plant by 2025


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 23, 2017

Contact:

Sierra Club Welcomes Commitment to Cleaner Energy

LANSING, Mich. - The Lansing Board of Water and Light (LBWL) will stop burning fossil fuels at its coal-fired Erickson Generating Station by December 2025 and commit to specific clean energy investments, under a settlement agreement announced today by Sierra Club. The agreement settles claims of Clean Air Act violations at LBWL’s Erickson and Eckert Generating Stations in Lansing, Michigan.

The agreement also makes enforceable LBWL’s previously announced plans to retire the Eckert plant by December 2020. Along with the confirmed retirements, LBWL has committed to adding at least 106 megawatts of new wind and solar energy generation by December 31, 2020.

Under the agreement, LBWL is further required to achieve a combined renewable energy-energy efficiency goal of 30 percent of their total retail sales by December 31, 2020, and 35 percent by December 31, 2025. LBWL will also establish a sustainability program designed to promote energy waste reduction or pollution prevention in the City of Lansing and surrounding community, with funding of at least $300,000.

“As an asthmatic who has suffered from the health impacts of burning coal for decades, I celebrate the positive impact today’s announcement will have on public health in our region.  This settlement clears the way for Lansing and LBWL to live up to their potential to be Michigan’s leading city in reaching clean energy and climate goals in coming decades,” said Anne Woiwode, Michigan Sierra Club volunteer leader. “We look forward to working hand in hand with Lansing to achieve that goal.”

Last year, Sierra Club conducted a groundbreaking public opinion poll showing 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%).

“Today’s announcement is a positive step toward prioritizing Michigan’s clean air and water, as well as protecting public health in the Lansing area. We have an opportunity now to avoid environmental and health risks in a way we did not have when coal-burning power was the only option,” said Regina Strong, director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Michigan. “Over the past five years we have seen large-scale solar and wind outperform coal, and now we are seeing renewable energy become even more competitive. We are pleased to reach this agreement with LBWL, which will help meet Mayor Virg Bernero’s commitment to climate action consistent with the Paris climate accord. This will go a long way in moving Lansing area residents toward the clean energy future they deserve, one that puts public health first.”

“This is good news,” said Aaron Stephens, East Lansing community activist.  “Clean energy is important for the future of our region and I am pleased to see the Lansing Board of Water and Light take these critical steps that move us away from the harmful effects of burning coal and toward an increase in renewable energy.”

“This agreement between the Lansing Board of Water and Light and the Sierra Club will vastly improve the health outlook for thousands of area residents,” said Kindra Weid, RN, MPH and Coalition Coordinator of MI Air MI Health.  “Retiring both the Eckert and Erickson coal-fired power plants by the end of 2025 will drastically reduce releases of several toxic chemicals polluting Michigan’s air and water. These include sulfur dioxide, which is a known irritant to people suffering from chronic respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.  This is great news for our air and water quality and for public health. A healthier and cleaner future is possible!”

The Erickson plant retirement commitment accounts for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign’s 257th announced coal plant closure since 2010.

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About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.7 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.

August 14, 2017

Sierra Club Statement on White Supremacist Terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 12, 2017


Contact: Trey Pollard trey.pollard@sierraclub.org


Sierra Club Statement on White Supremacist Terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement after violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia left at least three people dead and 19 injured.

“The Sierra Club condemns this act of white supremacist terrorism in the strongest possible terms. Our thoughts are with those injured and killed and our hearts are with those who are peacefully speaking out to stop hate from gaining another inch in our country and those who are living in fear because of that hate. No one who took to the streets of Charlottesville fueled by bigotry and brandishing the symbols of fascism that so many Americans fought and died to tear down has any claim on the mantle of patriotism. Instead, it is more important than ever that they be called out for exactly what they are: vile and unacceptable racists preaching division and hatred that stands in opposition to the values of equality and justice that must drive our nation forward. Hatred and racism have long played a disgraceful part of American history, but there can be no doubt that those who spew white supremacy feel empowered right now when they see allies in the corridors of power. These bigots must be condemned, not coddled, and we are in solidarity with those elected officials, residents of Charlottesville, and people all over this country who are speaking out for an America that pushes forward toward justice, not slides backward into hatred and fear.”


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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.

Sierra Club President Blackford encourages Sierra Club members, supporters and staff to join the events being held in solidarity with those in Charlottesville tonight and tomorrow.  



August 11, 2017

Washtenaw County Road Commission Accuses Nexus Pipeline of “Bullying” Tactics

Complaint submitted to FERC urges denial of Nexus application

August 11, 2017
Contact:  Nancy Shiffler, (734) 971-1157  nshiffler@comcast.net

Lansing, MI – Just as a US Senate confirmation vote re-established a quorum on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Washtenaw County Road Commission Managing Director, Roy Townsend, submitted a comment letter to FERC urging the commission to deny the current application for the Nexus natural gas pipeline.  The proposed pipeline route runs through Ohio and into Michigan’s Lenawee, Monroe and Washtenaw County.

The letter notes Nexus’ refusal to honor the County’s safety, operational, and maintenance concerns for the numerous roads the pipeline would cross: “Nexus also insists on creating driveway access points at improper, unsafe locations, even where nearby, safe locations exist, and in violation of all published safety standards.”   While noting the company’s claims that a FERC certificate would allow it to pre-empt and override local regulations, Townsend states, “Nexus repeatedly and vastly overstates the breadth of pre-emption, to the point of literally claiming Nexus can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants.”  The full text of the letter can be found at
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170807-5069


The Road Commission is not alone in receiving this kind of treatment from Nexus.  Kathy Schoen, owner of Washtenaw County farmland along the proposed pipeline route, states, “This is the same kind of arrogant and dismissive treatment landowners and local communities have received for their safety and property concerns.  Nexus does and says whatever it takes to get what they want.

The Road Commission letter also addresses the issues of road clean up and repair:  Most shockingly, Nexus has refused any responsibility even to assure that our public roads are cleaned up and repaired after Nexus’ construction is completed.  The Road Commission’s concerns about road damage are well founded considering the collapse of M-50 in Lenawee County during Energy Transfer Partner’s construction of the Rover pipeline.

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August 10, 2017

Canada chooses to ignore Line 5 risk, omits dangerous pipeline from new report


Canada chooses to ignore Line 5 risk, omits dangerous pipeline from new report
Canadian agency removes any reference to Line 5 risk from key environmental planning report

LANSING – Oil & Water Don’t Mix voiced concern today that the Government of Canada omitted the massive risk posed by Enbridge Energy’s 64-year-old Line 5 pipelines from its Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP), a comprehensive plan for restoring and protecting Lake Huron.

“It is clear that Canada is committed to maximizing profits for Canadian oil companies by skirting the facts about the Line 5 pipelines, regardless of the devastating impact of a Line 5 oil spill on our Great Lakes,” said David Holtz, chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and campaign coordinator forOil & Water Don’t Mix. “Michiganders bear all the risk of an oil spill while Canada keeps pumping oil through the aging pipelines, which is why we’re counting on Attorney General Schuette to stand up for Michiganders and shut down Line 5.”

The 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States requires both governments to work together to develop a protection plan for each of the Great Lakes that identifies threats to each lake. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada, a Canadian government agency, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are responsible for developing the LAMPs.  The draft report that omits Enbridge Line 5, follows a letter sent last week from the Ontario Minister of Energy to the state of Michigan requesting Gov. Rick Snyder keep oil flowing through Line 5 – a clear sign that Canada is working hard to keep Line 5 pumping, no matter the risk to Michigan.

The deadline for public comment on the Lake Huron plan is Sept. 5. Comments can be submitted at https://binational.net/2017/07/21/lhlamp-pddplh/.

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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.