October 30, 2012

Protect Michigan’s Working Families, Vote Yes on Proposal 2 on November 6th

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Bzymek, erinb@bluegreenalliance.org, 202-706-6916

Environment Leaders, Local Workers Stand Up for Collective Bargaining Rights and Clean, Safe Workplaces
GRAND RAPIDS, MI --Joining a broad coalition of supporters who are backing better wages and safer working conditions, environmental leaders and local workers today spoke out in support of Proposal 2 in Michigan. On the ballot this November 6th, Proposal 2 ensures that future generations benefit from basic rights that give workers a say when it comes to protecting their health, as well as negotiating and enforcing agreements between themselves and their employers.

“Collective bargaining means safer workers, safer communities and better jobs for all of us. Workers who can collectively bargain not only protect themselves, they also safeguard our neighborhoods, our communities and our environment, and raise up the wages and benefits for all of us,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

“It’s important that we pull together to build on that progress and give working families the opportunity to provide better lives for their children, and Prop 2 does just that,” Brune added. 
Proposal 2 protects collective bargaining rights and prevents attempts to weaken these protections in the future.

“Everyone who values clean environments and safe, secure and prosperous communities should support this critical ballot initiative,” said Anne Woiwode, State Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “The rights secured by Proposal 2 are essential for strengthening and protecting the hardworking, middle-class families who are the backbone of Michigan communities.”
Event participants spoke specifically to the protections that make the middle class strong by ensuring workers have a voice in their workplace and in the nation’s policies, advocating more equitable wages, humane work conditions, and improved benefits.

“Some Michigan lawmakers are doing everything they can to abolish workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain,” said Mark Schauer, National Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! initiative. “But, giving Michigan’s working families a voice to negotiate for fair wages, benefits and working conditions that are good for them and safe for our communities and our environment is as important today as it ever has been.”

“We can and we must protect the rights of working people in Michigan,” said Kevin Riley, a meat cutter at Meijer in Grand Rapids. “Putting these rights in our constitution is something the politicians and corporations cannot take away, and it will benefit future generations of Michiganders, both economically and environmentally. We must stand together to protect the right to negotiate for good jobs with cleaner, safer and healthier workplaces.” 

“We cannot afford to go back to a time when corporations could make up the rules as they go along, regarding working conditions, workplace safety, environmental protection and worker pay,” said Ben Scheid, an AT&T worker. “Michigan’s workers and families can’t afford it, that’s why I support Proposal 2.”

The supporters said that without collective bargaining rights our environment is endangered and workers face more risks on the job.
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Paid for by the BlueGreen Alliance for Michigan Jobs and Energy.
The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Launched in 2006, the strategic partnership now brings together major U.S. labor unions and America's most influential environmental organizations and unites more than 15 million members and supporters in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy. Visit www.bluegreenalliance.org.

October 19, 2012

DNR Proposes to Double Daily Limit for Brook Trout Despite Opposition by Fisheries Division and UP Anglers

Sierra Club Calls for Public Input and Proposal Put on Hold
 
Media Contact: Marvin Roberson, marvin.roberson@sierraclub.org, 906-360-0288

The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter today called on Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh to put a hold on a proposed doubling of the limit for brook trout in 10 streams in the Upper Peninsula.  The agency announced a proposal to change designation of the streams to a new category that would allow the taking of 10 brook trout per day per person. The current limit of five per person in the both the Upper and lower peninsula has been in place for more than a decade.

The DNR proposal comes even though its own Fisheries Division repeatedly indicated to the Natural Resources Commission that they were opposed to changing the limit.  In addition, a large majority of the Coldwater Resources Steering Committee voted to support the Fisheries Division position in their August meeting. This committee is comprised of various stakeholder groups and charged with advising the DNR on coldwater fisheries-related matters.

In addition, a DNR survey of UP anglers last summer indicated strong support for keeping the limit at five. The department asked anglers to rate their level of support for the existing five brook trout daily possession limit and the proposed 10 fish daily possession limit --  55% of respondents indicated they supported the existing limit, compared to 17% that opposed the five fish limit. By comparison, 28% of anglers supported and 53% opposed the 10 fish daily possession limit.

“There is little biological evidence regarding how many brook trout can be kept without harming sustainable population levels,” says Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Forest Ecologist. “There is absolutely no scientific reason that these limits should be different in the UP from the Lower Peninsula.”

For many years, the fishing regulations for keeping brook trout have been simple--five fish per day per person--but recently, a small but vocal minority of UP residents including the two Natural Resource Commissioners began agitating for the limit to be raised to 10 fish per day per person in the UP only.

With no notice to the public, the Coldwater Resources Steering Committee or stakeholders, the DNR announced on Oct. 15 a proposal to designate 10 streams in the UP in a new category allowing 10 brook trout per day per person. The decision is proposed for Nov. 8, a little more than 3 weeks after the announcement, with no opportunity for public comment.

“To make matters worse, the proposal indicates research on the effects of the regulations will commence after the regulations are changed,” said Roberson. “The DNR has no data on current conditions, and consequently will have no ability to assess conditions and effects after the new regulations.”

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter urges DNR Director Keith Creagh to put this proposal on hold until there can be a meaningful public input and dialogue process, and until baseline data for the streams proposed can be collected and success/failure criteria developed.

The Chapter also urges concerned citizens to contact Creagh at DNR-Director@michigan.gov  or 517-373-2329 and DNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter at  dexterj1@michigan.gov or 517-373-3375. Tell them to put this proposal on hold until such public input and research needs are met!

October 2, 2012

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Statement on Statewide Screenings of Last Call at the Oasis

Documentary to Show in Six Cities Across Michigan Oct. 22

Media Contact:  Gail Philbin, gail.philbin@sierraclub.org, 312-493-2384
Last Call at the Oasis, a documentary about the global water crisis featuring the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s Lynn Henning, will screen in six theaters across Michigan on Monday, Oct. 22. The film will play at the Quality 16 in Ann Arbor; Saginaw 12 in Saginaw; Bay City 8 in Bay City; Kalamazoo 10 in Kalamazoo; Grand Haven 9 in Grand Haven; and Jackson 10 in Jackson. (Contact individual theaters for showtimes.)

Produced by Participant Media (makers of An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc. and Waiting for “Superman”) Last Call at the Oasis spotlights Lynn’s work tracking animal factory pollution in Michigan, which has gained international recognition, earning her the International Goldman Environmental Prize in 2010 and a spread in the November 2011 issue of O Magazine.

For details about the film visit www.lastcallattheoasis.com.

In response to the Oct. 22 screenings, Lynn Henning made this statement:

“I am honored to be a part of Last Call at the Oasis.  For more than a dozen years, the Michigan Chapter has been fighting to stop pollution from animal factories, also known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), which are poisoning our water, air and food. The Chapter supports sustainable agricultural practices that are cleaner, healthier, more energy efficient, and produce many environmental and social benefits.  

CAFOs are a huge environmental and public health risk in Michigan. There are 234 in Michigan, and more than 58 have received environmental fines and penalties totaling over $1.6 million to the State of Michigan, yet they continue to receive federal farm bill subsidies.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has documented groundwater contamination from animal factories including arsenic, manganese, iron and possibly copper and traced infectious cryptosporidium and giardia in drinking water back to cattle. 

CAFOs reduce our quality of life by causing beach closings, dead zones from algal blooms, fish kills from oxygen depletion, contaminated drinking water, and polluted air.  People living near them are exposed to high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, dust, mold, and poisonous gases, leading to chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, heart attacks, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.  Even urban and suburban residents are at risk—rivers used for recreation and drinking water in cities often originate in agricultural areas affected by CAFOs.

The time has come for Michigan to hold polluting CAFOs accountable under federal and state laws. I hope my appearance in this film helps educate people about what’s really happening to their water because of CAFOs and motivates them to take action.”
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To learn more about a new campaign targeting animal factories the Michigan Chapter will launch in 2013 and how you can get involved, visit www.farmswithoutharm.org  and follow Lynn Twitter @CAFOCrusader.

For more on the Michigan Chapter’s work on the CAFO issue, visit http://www.michigan.sierraclub.org/issues/greatlakes/animalfactorypollution.html