February 27, 2014

Sierra Club Endorses Mark Schauer for Governor of Michigan

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Contact: Mike Berkowitz

Sierra Club Endorses Mark Schauer for Governor of Michigan

Detroit, M.I. -- Today, the Sierra Club announced its endorsement of Mark Schauer as the clear choice in Michigan’s gubernatorial race in 2014.

“Mark Schauer’s Michigan values mean support for policies that protect our Great Lakes system and strong, renewable energy standards that will transition us from older energy sources toward cleaner energy that is better for our families and our future,” said David Holtz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair. "Michigan was once a leader in preserving and protecting our Great Lakes and natural resources, but Gov. Snyder has failed to embrace the Milliken-era values that protected and preserved one of our state's strongest economic engines.  He has been a huge disappointment.”

Mark Schauer has supported comprehensive plans to create new clean energy jobs in Michigan while taking action to protect our communities from the consequences of climate disruption. As Governor, Schauer has made it clear that he would support a strong renewable energy standard for Michigan and energy efficiencies that would significantly reduce pollution while putting tens of thousands of Michiganders back to work. That is a stark contrast to the record of Schauer’s opponent.

“Governor Snyder has had nearly four years to deliver clean energy jobs and put in place strong protections against the ever-increasing expansion of new deep well gas drilling in Michigan,” said Mike Berkowitz, Political Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Instead, he’s given Michiganders false promises and said we must wait for the next governor to do something on clean energy while the oil and gas industry continues deep well fracking without protections for our water or our citizens’ health.  On these and a range of issues involving Michigan’s land, air and water, the governor has failed to deliver for everyone who cares about our health and natural resources.”

Schauer has consistently voted to protect Michigan’s lakes, rivers, and streams while taking action to curb climate disruption by cracking down on unregulated carbon pollution. In the state Senate, he authored legislation to protect the Great Lakes and has opposed efforts to endanger them with unregulated drilling while championing bills to expand Michigan’s rapidly growing clean energy economy. Snyder, on the other hand, has approved new dirty coal facilities, unnecessary mines, and dangerous deep injection wells.

“I voted for Rick Snyder in 2010 because he advertised himself as a moderate who would protect our Great Lakes, but now I regret that decision" said James D'Amour, Vice Chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter's Political Committee. "Governor Snyder has been a disappointment to Republicans like me who care about clean water and air. We need Mark Schauer to be Michigan's next Governor so he can stand up for clean energy, take action to curb the climate crisis, and protect our Great Lakes.”

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 150,000 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

Paid for by Michigan Sierra PAC (109 E. Grand River Ave. Lansing, MI 48906) and authorized by Mark Schauer for Governor.

February 26, 2014

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Communications Internship

Dates of Internship:  Negotiable between April and September 2014

Hours: 10 hours per week for 12 weeks; flexible and can be worked around your school schedule.

Location: Work from home as well as option of working in Lansing office

Internship Responsibilities
You will be directly assisting Sierra Club Michigan Chapter staff in protecting the environment and our water resources by helping us with communication strategies including social media and video projects.

Responsibilities include:
- Coordinate sustainable agriculture video testimonial project:
·         Help develop at least two consumer and two farmer videos to launch the project--identify consumers/farmers willing to testify for sustainable agriculture on camera, develop script/talking points and record videos
·         Identify places such as farmers markets to get consumer and farmer video testimonials throughout summer; Recruit volunteers and set schedule to record videos at identified locations
·         Help promote project on social media
- Assist Chapter communications committee with projects as needed
- Other duties available such as data entry, research and event tabling upon occasion

The ideal applicant will have
course work or a major in environmental communications or policy and experience with video and social media, and good writing and research skills as well as a knowledge or interest in environmental issues and factory farm issues in particular, and proficiency in Microsoft Office applications.  Ability to work independently.  Strongly self-motivated.

Compensation:  Internship comes with a stipend.

Contact: Gail Philbin, , 312-493-2384

February 13, 2014

Michigan House Votes to Give Sweetheart Deal to Oil Drillers for Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 13, 2014   
Mike Berkowitz

Michigan House Votes to Give Sweetheart Deal to Oil Drillers for Valentine’s Day

LANSING—The Michigan House of Representatives today passed a controversial bill package that gives oil and gas companies new powers to construct pipelines on private property over the objections of Michigan landowners, while giving new tax breaks to industry. HB 4885 (Nesbitt), HB 5254 (Outman), HB 5255 (Stallworth), and HB 5274 (Pettalia)  are designed to encourage so-called enhanced oil recovery operations, which entail pumping carbon dioxide (CO2) into closed oil wells to extract previously unattainable oil. Under the proposed legislation, oil and gas companies would get a 40% break on the oil severance tax while taxes on drilling for gas would be reduced by 20%.

“These bills hurt taxpayers, landowners, and threaten water supplies while giving  taxpayer handouts to the oil and gas industry,” said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Fundamentally, we should not be giving tax breaks to an oil industry that is putting our water at risk and making record profits.”

Supporters of the industry-backed proposals say there will be environmental benefits from carbon sequestration during the oil recovery process that is promoted as part of the bill package.  Those claims, however, ignore the damage that will likely result from expanded drilling in environmentally sensitive areas.   Moreover, any benefits from carbon sequestration must be weighed against disruptive new pipeline construction, well conversions required to accommodate the process, additional air pollution as well as costs and environmental impacts of increased transport of oil.  The combination of increased combustion of oil and other impacts means the bill package will likely result in the release of more greenhouse gases. 

“These bills pose an alarming new threat for all local Michigan residents who are facing aggressive oil, gas and related pipeline construction in their communities.   Sierra Club strongly opposes giving new eminent domain authority to private oil and gas companies at the expense of the rights of private property owners and the public” said Anne Woiwode, Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.  “The recent expansion of oil and tar sands pipelines in Michigan has led to many private landowners witnessing pipeline construction within a few yards of their homes or businesses.  Giving oil and gas companies more ability to take lands for the transportation of fossil fuels and pipeline development is the wrong decision for Michigan, for clean water, and for property owners.”

The bills now head to the Michigan Senate.
 The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 150,000 members and supporters in Michigan.