December 22, 2008

US Forest Service Drops Appeal for Drilling Plan Near Mason Tract World Class Trout Stream Protected

NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Rusty Gates, Anglers of the Au Sable, 989-348-8462 
Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, 906-360-0288


In a major victory for anglers, hikers and canoeists, the US Forest Service has dropped its appeal of a Federal Court decision to protect the Mason Tract and nearby Au Sable River from oil and gas drilling. The Au Sable River is one of the world’s premier blue ribbon trout streams.

The agency action follows a decision issued by Michigan Eastern District Federal Court Judge David M. Lawson in July. The decision came in response to concerns raised by the Sierra Club, Anglers of the Au Sable and Tim Mason about the Forest Service plan to allow Savoy Energy Company to clearcut and drill on National Forest land adjacent to the Mason Tract and within earshot of the river.

“Clearly some considered oil and gas drilling more important than the solitude required by hunters, anglers and hikers in this spectacular area,” said Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club Forest Ecologist. “Given the importance of this place to the people of the state of Michigan, we applaud this decision to abandon the appeal.”

The Forest Service failed to adequately consider the environmental impacts and alternatives to address concerns including noise and habitat destruction in its plan. As a result the court enjoined the Forest Service from engaging in any activities. Savoy Energy Company was denied a last minute attempt to intervene in the case on appeal in front of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision by the Forest Service to drop its appeal leaves the lower court decision and injunction in place and protects the Au Sable River from destructive drilling.

"This portion of the Au Sable is the most pristine trout stream in the lower peninsula" said Rusty Gates, President of the Anglers of the Au Sable. "People come here from all over the world to enjoy the beauty and solitude afforded by this river. We're glad to see that it remains protected".

The Mason Tract was established in 1955 when Tim Mason’s grandfather, George Mason, bequeathed a 1,500 acre parcel with eleven miles of frontage on the South Branch of the Au Sable River to the State of Michigan. George Mason’s gift was conditioned on maintaining the pristine condition of the Tract. Today, the Mason Tract covers approximately 4,500 acres, but the oil and gas rights under the Tract were at least in part owned by the federal government and were leased by the Bureau of Land Management.

According to Tim Mason, who represented the living Mason heirs in this suit, "this recent development will allow my Grandfathers vision to carry on and provide people an opportunity to enjoy the quiet solitude he found so therapeutic and relaxing".

"This unique gift that he left to the people of Michigan and this country has provided recreational hikers, skiers, canoeists and dedicated fishermen and sportsmen an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in ways that are rare and hard to find these days. On behalf of our Grandfather and the rest of the Mason family we are grateful for the efforts of the Sierra Club, The Anglers of the Au Sable and all of the volunteers that made this happen."

No drilling is allowed on the Mason Tract itself however oil and gas could potentially be retrieved through Forest Service lands abutting the Mason Tract. Savoy Energy Company proposed to set up a drilling platform in an old growth portion of the South Branch Area of the Huron Manistee National Forest. The drilling platform would be near enough to impact the Mason Tract and the only two track trail that leads to the Mason Chapel within the Tract.

The conservationists were represented by attorney Marianne Dugan of Portand, Oregon, one of the most successful environmental attorneys in the nation.

December 15, 2008

Sierra Club Takes Action to Force Holland Board of Public Works to Use Modern Contols for Soot and Smog


For immediate release

CONTACT: Anne Woiwode, State Director, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter 517-484-2372 or anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org

Grand Rapids, MI – Sierra Club took action today to force the Holland Board of Public Works’ James De Young coal-fired power plant to employ modern controls for soot- and smog-forming pollution that is a leading contributor to asthma and other serious health problems. Over the past decade, the more than 40-year old plant has been repeatedly modified to keep it operating past its retirement date without installing required modern pollution controls.

“Old, dirty coal plants in Michigan like the De Young plant are huge sources of pollutants that contribute to asthma, lung cancer, and other respiratory issues,” said Anne Woiwode, Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Nationwide, pollution from coal-fired power plants causes over 21,000 hospitalizations, 38,000 heart attacks and 24,000 deaths each year,” added
W oiwode.

The Holland Board of Public Works undertook major modifications and life-extension projects at the plant over time without notifying state regulators, without obtaining a new permit, and without installing modern pollution controls. These changes not only extended the life of the aging coal plant, but also likely increased harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and fine particulate matter. The violations were uncovered during Sierra Club’s investigation into the Board’s plans to expand the facility and more than double its capacity.

Despite claims by the Board that expanding the De Young plant will improve air emissions, the expansion will do nothing to address the years of excess pollution resulting from the plant’s failure to use adequate pollution controls like those used elsewhere in the country. In addition, the Board’s assertion that the expansion project will actually lower emissions fails to acknowledge that historic emissions were unlawful and attempts to take credit for reductions already required by law.

“Especially in today’s economic climate the Holland Board of Public Works should clean up its existing plant before it sinks hundreds of millions of dollars into another polluting project,” said James Gignac, Midwest Director of the Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign. “The Board’s desire to more than double the size of a project that has been polluting illegally for years shows a great disregard for public health and environmental quality,” added Gignac.

In addition to public health, the De Young plant and its proposed expansion should be part of the past when it comes to energy. “We have the opportunity right now to create a clean energy future for Holland, by getting any additional energy needs from clean sources, promoting energy
efficiency, creating clean energy jobs, and reducing global warming pollution,” said Jan O’Connell with the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Now is the time to repower, refuel, and rebuild America right here in West Michigan,” urged O’Connell.

The Sierra Club suit filed in Federal District Court today charges the City of Holland and the Holland Board of Public Works with violations of the federal Clean Air Act. Sierra Club is seeking enforcement of the Clean Air Act, installation of modern pollution controls, and penalties to hold the De Young plant responsible for its pollution.


Sierra Club is represented in this matter by Madison, WI based attorneys Lester Pines and Kira Loehr of Cullen Weston Pines & Bach LLP and David Bender of Garvey McNeil & McGillivray, S.C.


September 29, 2008

Congress Passes Great Lakes Cleanup Bill

Sierra Club Applauds Reauthorization of the Great Lakes Legacy Act


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Emily Green, Great Lakes Program Director, (608) 257-4994
Melissa Damaschke, Great Lakes Representative – Michigan, (313) 965-0055


DETROIT, MI – The Sierra Club Great Lakes Program applauds Congress for passing the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008. The bill reauthorizes a highly successful program to clean up toxic hotspots in the Great Lakes at the current funding level of $54 million per year for the next two years.

“We applaud all of the cosponsors, especially Reps. James Oberstar (MN) and Vern Ehlers (MI), for their leadership on this legislation,” said Emily Green, Director of the Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program. “Over the past five years, the Great Lakes Legacy Act has proven to be an effective tool in cleaning up the Great Lakes and restoring this important natural resource. Experience shows we can use modern technologies to safely remove and dispose of contamination, such as with the clean up of the Detroit River Black Lagoon.”

In winter of 2005, the Black Lagoon of the Detroit River became the first project successfully cleaned up with funding from the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The site was contaminated with polluted sediment containing toxins like mercury and PCBs. Funds from the Legacy Act provided for dredging that removed the contaminants and helped restore the health to this area and its shoreline.

“The Great Lakes are home to a $4.5 billion sport fishing industry,” said Melissa Damaschke, Great Lakes representative for the Sierra Club. “We can use funds provided by the Legacy Act to clean up historically contaminated Areas of Concern and provide benefit to this multibillion dollar sport fishing industry.”

A recent Brookings Institution study found that cleaning up contaminated sites and investing in other aspects of Great Lakes restoration would result in over $50 billion of economic benefits, such as increased coastal property values, to the Great Lakes region. (Brookings Institution, “Healthy Waters, Strong Economy”)

Re-authorization of the Legacy Act was recommended by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a comprehensive set of solutions to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

“This is our opportunity to change the legacy we leave our children from toxic contamination to water that is safe to drink and fish that are safe to eat” said Damaschke. “Now is our chance to be responsible stewards of the lakes, cleaning them up for our families and our future.”

September 23, 2008

U.S. House Approves Great Lakes Compact


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2008

CONTACT: Emily Green, Great Lakes Program Director, (608) 257-4994 
                     Melissa Damaschke, Great Lakes Representative – Michigan, (313) 965-0055

Sierra Club Applauds Congress in 
Protecting a National Treasure

Detroit, MI – Today, the Sierra Club applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for approving the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

The Compact is an eight-state water management agreement between Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It protects the nation’s largest fresh surface water resource from diversions outside of the Great Lakes Basin. It also sets clear limits on who can have access to Great Lakes water, sets standards for those taking water from the Lakes, and calls for water conservation throughout the Great Lakes’ region.

The U.S. Senate approved the Compact in early August. After today’s approval in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Compact will go to President Bush’s desk for his signature. The President has already indicated his support of the agreement.

“Today, we applaud Congress for their commitment in protecting the Great Lakes for the benefit of future generations. Their leadership has given us a rare opportunity to ensure that our Great Lakes, one of the natural wonders of the world, will not be sold to the highest bidder,” said Emily Green, Director of Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program.

Because the Great Lakes are so intricately tied to the region’s economy and house a diversity of species, ecosystems, and natural resources, protecting the Great Lakes from future water diversions and overuse will ensure the sustainability of this precious resource for future generations.

“Protecting the Great Lakes, one of America’s national treasures, from diversion and unsustainable use will ensure that these waters are available to support and sustain future generations, protecting human communities against the adverse effects of climate change,” said Melissa Damaschke, Representative for Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program.

For more information on Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program, go to
www.sierraclub.org/greatlakes

September 18, 2008

Michigan Makes Critical Step Toward Cleaner, Cost- Effective Energy


PRESS STATEMENT

By Gayle Miller, Sierra Club Legislative Director

“Today, Michigan took its first important step toward addressing the most pressing issues of our time; climate change. With strong support in both the House and Senate, the Michigan legislature passed HB 5524 and SB 213, which significantly revamp Michigan’s electric utilities and require them to immediately begin helping their customers reduce the amount of energy they use while investing in renewable energy.”

“Michigan is currently facing an enormous risk from expensive, unneeded, dirty power. Eight new coal-fired power plants have been proposed for the state, along with one new nuclear plant. The package of bills that passed today will require utilities to invest immediately in clean energy, reducing demand for these far more expensive energy options.”

“The package also contains a critical component called Integrated Resource Planning (IRP). The IRP process will help ensure that Michigan gets the best deal for its energy investments by requiring full disclosure of all costs and benefits associated with each energy investment option. For example, using the IRP the Public Service Commission will be able to take into consideration the environmental costs of dirty energy and the job creation benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Given a level playing field, the Sierra Club is convinced that clean, renewable energy from wind, solar and efficiency will compete favorably against polluting sources of power.”

“The package also contains a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), requiring electric providers to generate 10% of their power from renewable sources (like wind) by 2015. While the standard is far weaker than it should be, the RPS is a step in the right direction. Twenty eight other states have RPS policies in place and many of these states have already increased their renewable standard due to the cost-effective energy and good jobs their states have gained as a result. Once renewable energy develops a cost-effective track record in Michigan, Sierra Club is confident that Michigan will quickly want to raise its RPS standard and reap the economic and environmental benefits of making Michigan a powerhouse of renewable technology and jobs.”

“A last minute addition to the package of Net Metering will also help spur the development of renewable energy by requiring utilities to pay independent power producers a fair price for their surplus power. For example, if a farmer installs a wind turbine on his or her land, they’ll be guaranteed a fair, market price for any power they sell back to the utility.”

“The bills do contain the expensive provision of de-skewing, something the Michigan Manufacturers Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce and many Republicans insisted
upon. De-skewing will raise residential rates by making homeowners pay relatively more for power than industrial customers.”

“On balance, however, this package of bills will help both the environment and ratepayers. Energy efficiency is the cheapest way to generate new electric power, by simply helping people buy more efficient windows, more insulation and more energy efficient appliances. Cheap power from energy efficiency measures will reduce the need for polluting power. And, the IRP will be a critical tool in defeating proposals for expensive, polluting coal and nuclear plants. When compared fairly, clean energy will win, hands-down, over polluting outdated coal and nuclear sources saving residents money for decades.”

“The Sierra Club congratulates all who were involved in the development of this package of bills and looks forward to continuing to work with the legislature to bring Michigan’s energy policies into the 21st Century.”


July 23, 2008

Agreement scores new, concrete protections for Michigan water resources

Bipartisan pact not perfect, but a key win for Michigan’s citizens; earns endorsement from Great Lakes, Great Michigan coalition


Lansing, MI -- A bipartisan agreement announced today establishes important and concrete protections for Michigan’s streams and makes water conservation an integral part of the state’s water stewardship efforts.

The deal, reached after years of negotiation and research, was endorsed today by Great Lakes, Great Michigan – a coalition of more than 70 civic, environmental, business and sporting organizations.

“This package is a signal of the legislature’s commitment to protecting our world-class water resources,” said James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council. “With other states and nations increasingly eyeing Great Lakes water for diversion or profit, it is critical we double our effort to protect and preserve our water for future generations.”

The bipartisan compromise left some shortcomings, but keeps intact core principles:
  • Approves the eight-state Great Lakes Compact against large scale water diversions (Michigan is the 7th state to approve it)
  • Ensures that users do not excessively harm aquatic resources by taking too much water
  • Adopts conservation principles to be utilized by water users
  • Adds public input into decisions about large-scale water uses that might impact local ecosystems
“Yesterday, not a drop of Michigan’s precious water was adequately protected from withdrawal or diversion,” said Dr. Grenetta Thomassey of Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. “With these laws, 75 percent of streamflows are safe from being siphoned away; and the remainder are subject to rules ensuring availability to business, industry, farmers, and citizens for reasonable use.”

Michigan is the only state entirely within the Great Lakes watershed, which contains almost 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water. Increasing demand for fresh water is expected to ratchet up pressure to divert water from the watershed, where it would be lost forever to the Great Lakes system.

Recent months have seen notables including a Democratic presidential candidate and Ohio’s lieutenant governor suggest that water might be siphoned from the lakes.

“We have no intention of letting our water be taken to subsidize sprawl in Atlanta or irrigate golf courses in Arizona,” said Gayle Miller of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter. “This is a firm step toward saying, ‘no’.”

The legislation uses a combination of a new scientific geographic information system-based water withdrawal assessment tool along with other criteria to determine whether large-scale water withdrawals within the state are harmful.

“To our knowledge, no other state in the country is using science to protect water resources in this way; and no state has protected as much of their water resources as we are doing with these laws,” said Clift. “This is a pioneering effort.”

Great Lakes, Great Michigan coalition members said they would regroup in coming months to fight for additional protections not included in the package.

“We are extremely disappointed that the legislature failed to strengthen our important public trust protections, which affirms that water is a public resource that belongs to Michiganders and not to corporations or profit-takers,” said Cyndi Roper of Clean Water Action. “We intend to revisit this issue.”

Other tweaks, such as adjusting allowable streamflow reductions in certain types of rivers, may also be necessary in the future.

July 15, 2008

Giant Mobile Coal Plant, Ogre-like "Smokestack" Patty Lands on Legislature

Groups unleash accountability campaign to protect Michigan’s energy future

July 15, 2008 LANSING – With a 12-foot-tall effigy of Sen. Patty Birkholz and a 20-foot-tall inflatable coal plant looming over the State Capitol grounds, environmental watchdog groups today called on Michigan citizens to oppose a Senate-passed energy plan that will open the floodgates to more dirty coal plants and put a nail in the coffin of clean renewable energy in Michigan.

“Smokestack" Patty Birkholz and her Senate coal industry stooges should start supporting clean renewable energy that can create good-paying Michigan jobs, not dirty coal plants that will send jobs and investments to other states,” Clean Water Action’s State Director Cyndi Roper said. Clean renewable energy is the future. Michigan citizens will not stand idly by while Smokestack Patty and backward senators push energy policies that keep our state trapped in the energy Dark Ages.”

The Legislature is currently debating sweeping energy proposals and faces a choice on Michigan’s energy future: Investing in 21st century renewable energy and energy efficiency, or paving the way for more outdated coal. Senate action on Senate Bill 213 decisively drives the state toward more coal plants and away from renewable energy. Under the Senate plan, renewable energy standards were effectively gutted to the point of even including coal in the definition of renewable energy.

Clean Energy Now, a coalition of environmental and citizens’ watchdog groups, is calling on the Legislature to reverse course and urged citizens to send a letter to legislators urging them to reject dirty coal plants and support clean renewable energy. Citizens can send the letter by going to: www.smokestackpatty.com.

Michigan is at a crossroads and faces a critical choice, and unfortunately "Smokestack" Patty and her Big Coal Stooges in the Senate are making the wrong choice in sending Michigan down the path of more dirty coal plants,” Sierra Club Executive Director Anne Woiwode said. “Coal costs have skyrocketed and even major banks are calling coal a bad investment. Despite all these warning signs, the Senate is choosing coal over 21st century renewable energy – and that means a big price we will all pay for generations to come.”

Kansas and Georgia are among many states that have cracked down on the construction of more coal plants. Around 60 new coal plant projects across the nation have been abandoned because of the high costs. Michigan, however, is alone in the nation in actually facing eight new coal plants – unless the Legislature chooses to invest in clean renewable energy.

The Senate is paving the way for more outdated coal-burning plants in passing a backward- page1image23040 looking energy plan that guts renewable energy, kills energy efficiency programs and opens the door to the construction of more coal plants in Michigan. Birkholz is the architect of the Senate plan, with support from Majority Leader Mike Bishop and others that have been widely denounced by opinion leaders and the news media.

"At a time when we should be moving Michigan forward towards a clean energy future, the Senate took a giant step backwards. Requiring a mere 7% renewable energy by 2015 and loopholes big enough to drive a Hummer through is not enough for Michigan to reap the benefits of the renewable energy sector, said Abby Rubley, Policy Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. We will not see the jobs, we will not protect the health of the citizens of Michigan by reducing CO2 emissions and we will not protect our most valuable natural resources – the Great Lakes."

Clean Energy Now called on the legislature to increase investments in clean renewable energy because it has proven to be one of the top drivers of economic growth globally and creates more jobs than outdated coal projects. Worldwide, clean energy projects account for $100 billion in new economic activity, according to the Department of Energy. Michigan stands to gain 45,000 new good-paying jobs if it invests in 21st century renewable projects and energy efficiency, according to the Renewable Energy Project and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

“Michigan is getting left behind while other states and countries are attracting jobs and investments, thanks to the Senate’s short-sighted, backward energy plan,” said Terry Miller, Executive Director for Lone Tree Council. “Clean renewable energy means clean Michigan energy and good-paying Michigan jobs. Unless the Senate reverses course and starts making the right choice of investing in clean renewable energy, Michigan will lose out on a tremendous opportunity to create jobs, protect our Great Lakes and move our economy forward.”

The mobile inflatable coal plant and the giant effigy of Smokestack Patty made its first appearance in Lansing, with possible stops in other communities in the near future to warn citizens about the consequences of the Senate-passed plan and the dangers of saddling the state with more coal for generations to come.

Groups participating in today’s press conference include: Anne Woiwode, executive director of the Sierra Club; Cyndi Roper, state director of Clean Water Action; Terry Miller of Lone Tree Council, which is opposing coal plants slated for Midland and Bay City; Rachel Hood, executive director of West Michigan Environmental Council; Patty Gillis of Voices for Earth Justice; Abby Rubley, policy director of Michigan League of Conservation Voters; Dan Farough, executive director of Progress Michigan.

June 12, 2008

NMU’s Dirty Coal Plant Wrong for U.P., Michigan Group files appeal today to fight tooth and nail to stop backward coal plant, which puts U.P., Michigan at risk


LANSING – Sierra Club today announced that it will fight every step of the way to stop the construction of an outdated coal plant to be built at Northern Michigan University by calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to overturn an earlier decision approving the project.

“Universities should lead into the future, not cling to the past, and Northern Michigan should embrace clean, 21st-Century energy technology, not dirty coal plants from the 19th Century,” Michigan Sierra Club State Director Anne Woiwode said. “We urge Northern Michigan University to abandon this wrong-headed plan to build an outdated dirty coal plant that will threaten our ability to attract jobs of the future. We urge Northern Michigan to lead by example and prepare our students for a 21st-Century economy.”

An official appeal was filed today with the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to overturn the decision by Governor Granholm’s Department of Environmental Quality to approve a permit for NMU. Sierra Club also said it will reach out to NMU President Leslie Wong and University leaders to abandon the coal plant.

“NMU should look to the future, not the past, and more coal plants send the wrong signal to our students and to job providers,” Progress Michigan Executive Director Dan Farough said. “NMU should invest in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass, not fossil fuels like coal. We need to create jobs in renewable energy and break our dependence on imported fossil fuels. Clean Michigan energy equals good-paying Michigan jobs today and into the future.”

The Northern Michigan proposal is part of an unprecedented blitz of up to eight coal plants seeking to locate in Michigan. Over 60 other coal plant proposals have been turned down across the nation as states turn away from outdated energy sources and invest in cutting-edge clean energy technology.

Sierra Club, along with a statewide coalition, Clean Energy Now, recently unveiled an online petition calling on Gov. Jennifer Granholm to use her executive authority to stop the construction of more outdated coal plants, until Michigan has established a clean energy plan that prioritizes 21st century energy like wind, solar and biomass. To sign the petition, go to michigancleanenergynow.com.

“Governor Granholm is talking about Michigan doing its fair share to cut global warming and invest in clean energy jobs – but her rhetoric is not matched by her actions,” said Woiwode. “Her Administration is proposing to approve more dirty coal plants and more new sources of global warming pollution than any other state in the Nation. Governor Granholm should follow the courageous lead of Governors Sebelius (D-KS), Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and Crist (R-FL) and say dirty coal has no place in her state.” 

May 5, 2008




For Immediate Release, May 5, 2008:

Contact: Marvin Roberson (906) 360-0288

SIERRA CLUB CRITICIZES USFWS BACK PEDALING ON HEARING FOR THREATENED COASTER BROOK TROUT

The Sierra Club today chastised the US Fish and Wildlife Service for changing their mind on holding hearings on the proposed listing of the Coaster brook trout as an endangered species. The Sierra Club is one of two organizations petitioning the federal agency to list the Coaster brook trout under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The Sierra Club and the Huron Mountain Club filed this petition with the USFWS in 2006 to declare the Coaster Brook Trout, a large, very rare trout which reproduces in only one stream on the south shore of Lake Superior, as Endangered. March 20 of this year, the USFWS published a notice in the Federal Register noting a positive preliminary finding on the petition, asking for comments by May 19, and asking for requests for a public hearing by May 5.

Dozens responded asking for a hearing. However, May 2, 2008, the USFWS released a letter “To Interested Parties” claiming that the offer of a hearing was “in error”, and stating that there would be no such hearing.

According to Marvin Roberson, Forest Ecologist with the Sierra Club, “We call on the US Fish and Wildlife Service to make good on their offer of a hearing on this matter. While it may have been made “in error”, whatever that means, it was in fact made, and many groups and individuals responded in the manner and time specified in the Federal Register Notice”.
Roberson further noted that there is no prohibition which would keep the USFWS from holding the hearing they offered, and further noted that this letter claiming the offer had been made “in error” came over 40 days after the original Notice, and only after numerous written requests for a hearing. 

April 23, 2008

THIS EARTH DAY “WE CAN DO IT”, Says Sierra Club

Sierra Club Highlights Local Green Champions to Show How we Can Quickly Build a Clean Energy Economy

April 22, 2008 Ferndale, MI – The Sierra Club celebrated Earth Day today by highlighting several local examples of Green leadership at a press conference at the Woodward Avenue Brewers, a Ferndale business that has changed a number of its practices to become more environmentally friendly. The press conference kicked off a week long volunteer effort to give out 1,000 energy-saving compact florescent light bulbs and energy savings tips around Oakland County.

“This Earth Day, we want to show people what their neighbors, local businesses and governments are already achieving in moving towards a Clean Energy economy - and persuade them this is not a pie-in-the-sky, generation-from-now possibility, but these are changes and opportunities that could and should be seized now,” said Tiffany Hartung, Oakland County Sierra Club Organizer.

One local example the Sierra Club pointed to was the city of Ferndale itself. As a Cool City, the City of Ferndale has been taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint. Since taking the Cool Cities pledge, Ferndale has formed an Environmental Impact Committee to oversee and give input on environmental policies that the city passes. The city has adopted energy-efficiency policies such as switching over to energy efficient street lighting, requiring Energy Star purchases and requiring green building standards for new buildings. The city also adopted a policy to purchase hybrid vehicles for the city's fleet, and approved policies for transit and land-use improvements that will make alternative transit more of a reality. The city recently added new bike lanes to several of its roads.

One of the speakers was Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey, “The people of Ferndale join the Sierra Club in a clarion call to protect and preserve the environment of our planet and stop the wastefulness and destruction that grows more serious every day.”

“Ferndale is taking some big steps to reduce its contribution to climate change and we wanted to share their examples with its neighboring communities here in the Detroit Metro area,” continued Hartung.

The event was held at the Woodward Avenue Brewers in Ferndale. Organizers say they chose the venue because the brew pub has implemented a number of environmentally friendly practices, such as changing out the lights to more energy efficient CFLs, reusing building material in the construction of the building and it’s sister businesses, using reusable condiment containers and having it’s spent brewery grains picked up to be used as feed for a local bison farm.

“This Earth Day, we can make this switch. We can move beyond oil, coal and the other polluting fuels of the past and instead move into a clean energy economy that creates opportunities and

jobs immediately,” said Hartung. “American ingenuity and innovation can lead the way when it comes to clean energy technologies and fighting global warming. If we can have one industrial revolution – why can’t there be another?”

Learn more about Sierra Club’s Earth Day activities nationwide at www.sierraclub.org/earthday

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April 22, 2008

Thousands of Feet Point Lansing toward Smaller Carbon Footprint


 Earth Day event carpets Capitol in calls to stop CO2, dirty coal plants


LANSING – A massive 150-foot-long petition painted with thousands of footprints covered a corner of the State Capitol today during an Earth Day rally that called on Lansing to walk away from dirty coal plants and carbon dioxide, and invest in clean energy instead.

On Earth Day, the citizens of Michigan are rolling out the welcome mat for a clean energy future and sending Lansing the signal that we cannot go backwards with dirty coal plants,” Progress Michigan Executive Director Dan Farough said. “At a time when we must do everything in our power to protect our Great Lakes and reduce carbon dioxide, there are some in Lansing who want to build more dirty coal plants and put our future at risk. We need a change, we need more clean renewable energy and we need to protect our precious natural resources for generations to come.”

The citizens’ watchdog groups that form the Clean Energy Now coalition repeated their calls for Gov. Jennifer Granholm to sign an executive order to significantly curtail carbon dioxide emissions in Michigan. Clean Energy Now has collected thousands of signatures from citizens urging the governor to order the government to make carbon dioxide a factor in whether the state approves permits for future proposed dirty coal plants.

Today, the carpet that was rolled out on the Capitol steps was filled with thousands of footprints meant to symbolize the number of petition signatures that have already been gathered.
“We want to show the governor that the people of Michigan want less carbon dioxide, no new coal plants and a cleaner future for our children,” Michigan Clean Water Action’s Program Coordinator Becky Jo Farrington said. “On Earth Day, Michigan should send the signal that we put people and our Great Lakes before Big Coal and polluters.”

Sierra Club Executive Director Anne Woiwode said: “The people of Michigan are warning those in Lansing who want to go backward that we cannot afford to build new dirty coal plants that put our entire future at risk. We urge all our leaders to put Michigan jobs, Michigan’s Great Lakes and Michigan’s future first. We must change course, say no to dirty coal plants and invest in clean renewable energy.”

“Global warming is the most significant environmental and humanitarian emergency that our planet has ever faced and it’s already putting our precious Great Lakes at risk,” Farrington said. “More dirty coal plants mean more greenhouse gases that threaten our citizens and our economy. We should turn away from more global warming coal-fired power plants and turn our state in the direction of clean, renewable energy.”

Terry Miller of Lone Tree Council, a community based group fighting more coal plants in
Midland said: “We call on Gov. Granholm to join the citizens of Michigan in fighting global warming, reducing carbon dioxide and protecting our Great Lakes. She has the people on her side, she should act now to hold Big Coal accountable and she should make sure our Great State leads the way in clean renewable energy, not outdated and dangerous coal.”

Early in 2007, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius invoked a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in directing the state’s environmental agency to consider the negative impact of global warming CO2 emissions in air quality permit decisions for coal-burning power plants. The action was the first time a Governor had invoked a Supreme Court ruling to crack down on CO2 pollution and comes as 59 other coal plants have been turned down or halted across country.

While other states are turning away from coal-burning, Michigan faces the construction of up to seven coal-fired plants that will unleash dangerous greenhouse gases.

Clean Energy Now coalition has also unveiled a ratepayer protection plan that aims to protect consumers from having to absorb the costs of bad, risky investments in more coal. Instead the coalition urges state leaders to turn in the direction of cutting-edge renewable energy and efficiency and bring these rapidly growing industries to Michigan.

To sign the petition, go to www.michigancleanenergynow.com.

Sierra Club Highlights Local Green Champions to Show How we Can Quickly Build a Clean Energy Economy


THIS EARTH DAY “WE CAN DO IT”, Says Sierra Club


April 22, 2008 Ferndale, MI – The Sierra Club celebrated Earth Day today by highlighting several local examples of Green leadership at a press conference at the Woodward Avenue Brewers, a Ferndale business that has changed a number of its practices to become more environmentally friendly. The press conference kicked off a week long volunteer effort to give out 1,000 energy-saving compact florescent light bulbs and energy savings tips around Oakland County.

“This Earth Day, we want to show people what their neighbors, local businesses and governments are already achieving in moving towards a Clean Energy economy - and persuade them this is not a pie-in-the-sky, generation-from-now possibility, but these are changes and opportunities that could and should be seized now,” said Tiffany Hartung, Oakland County Sierra Club Organizer.

One local example the Sierra Club pointed to was the city of Ferndale itself. As a Cool City, the City of Ferndale has been taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint. Since taking the Cool Cities pledge, Ferndale has formed an Environmental Impact Committee to oversee and give input on environmental policies that the city passes. The city has adopted energy-efficiency policies such as switching over to energy efficient street lighting, requiring Energy Star purchases and requiring green building standards for new buildings. The city also adopted a policy to purchase hybrid vehicles for the city's fleet, and approved policies for transit and land-use improvements that will make alternative transit more of a reality. The city recently added new bike lanes to several of its roads.

One of the speakers was Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey, “The people of Ferndale join the Sierra Club in a clarion call to protect and preserve the environment of our planet and stop the wastefulness and destruction that grows more serious every day.”

“Ferndale is taking some big steps to reduce its contribution to climate change and we wanted to share their examples with its neighboring communities here in the Detroit Metro area,” continued Hartung.
The event was held at the Woodward Avenue Brewers in Ferndale. Organizers say they chose the venue because the brew pub has implemented a number of environmentally friendly practices, such as changing out the lights to more energy efficient CFLs, reusing building material in the construction of the building and it’s sister businesses, using reusable condiment containers and having it’s spent brewery grains picked up to be used as feed for a local bison farm.

“This Earth Day, we can make this switch. We can move beyond oil, coal and the other polluting fuels of the past and instead move into a clean energy economy that creates opportunities and
jobs immediately,” said Hartung. “American ingenuity and innovation can lead the way when it comes to clean energy technologies and fighting global warming. If we can have one industrial revolution – why can’t there be another?”


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