June 30, 2014

Local, Healthy Food’s Growing Support Told In Video Series Debuting July 1

Farmers, Food Consumers Document What Sustainability Means To Michigan
Media Contact: Gail Philbin,, 312-493-2384

Lansing, Mich. As farmers markets kick into high gear this month, Michigan food consumers and farmers are voicing support for locally grown food and sustainable agriculture in Michigan and putting it into their own words and stories in a new video series debuting July 1, available at

Michiganders from all walks of life discuss why meat, dairy, poultry and eggs that are locally grown under humane conditions are important to them, their communities and local economies in a series of one-minute video testimonials produced by the  Less=More sustainable agriculture coalition. The coalition is also asking people to contribute their own food stories to the series.  For more information on submitting a testimonial, email:

Jill Johnson and Mary Wills of Crane Dance Farm in Middleville will kick off the series with the release of their testimonial via Less=Mores Twitter account, @MoreforMichigan, and on its Facebook page. Jill, who studied agriculture in college, says "What I learned about our food system scared me and I knew at that point that if I was going to eat, I probably had to grow food. It's been a long journey to Crane Dance Farm."
Mary adds, "We've seen so many small farms go under because nobody subsidizes us. It's really very hard to be able to do what we do .Less=More is vital for the voice of the small farmer."

Crane Dance Farm is a member of Less=More, a sustainable agriculture coalition tackling the inequity of the subsidy system that favors polluting factory farms over safe, sustainable livestock farms at the expense of the environment and public health. In 2013, the coalition released a report, Restoring the Balance to Michigans Farming Landscape, that explores the relationship between Farm Bill subsidies and factory farm pollution in Michigan. To download Restoring the Balance, visit: . 

The number of farmers markets in Michigan has grown from around 90 in 2001 to more than 300 today, according to the Michigan Farmers Market Associations website. This proliferation of markets as well as Community Supported Agriculture farms (CSAs) in Michigan is evidence of a growing demand from consumers for locally grown, healthy food.

And the passionate response of consumers and farmers to the Less=More testimonial series indicates that buying local food isnt a passing fad. Western Michigan University student Erin Denay, the series producer, has been collecting farmer and consumer videos throughout the month of June during trips to farmers markets and other locations in Frankenmuth, Kalamazoo, Boyne City, Lansing, Grand Rapids and other Michigan communities.

I am so happy to be part of the Less=More campaign, says Denay, a senior majoring in environmental and sustainability studies. I have learned so much about the support that small-scale sustainable farmers need. Particularly, it has made me more appreciative of the local farmers where I live who share my values and help give me more choices as a consumer."

At the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, Denay captured the thoughts of  several consumers and farmers, including Joseph Battistella of Sunshine Silo Farm, who says, "Smaller farmers are used to doing what they can with what they have so any sort of help like tax dollars can go a very long way on a small farm. See the full Sunshine Silo Farm testimonial here:

Less=More is comprised of national, state and local organizations and farmers, including: Beery Farms of Michigan, LLC, the Center for Food Safety, Crane Dance Farm, LLC, ELFCO Food Cooperative, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, Food & Water Watch, Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, Groundswell Farm, Zeeland, Humane Society of the United States, Michigan Small Farm Council, Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, Michigan Young Farmers Coalition, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. 

Less=More is made possible in part by support from the Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation.

Less support for polluting factory farms means a more sustainable Michigan.  For more information, visit,   

June 16, 2014

Sierra Club Endorses Shari Pollesch, Bert Johnson, Bryan Mielke in State Legislative Races

June, 16, 2014

Mike Berkowitz

Sierra Club Endorses Shari Pollesch, Bert Johnson, Bryan Mielke in State Legislative Races
Nation’s Largest Grassroots Conservation Organization Backs Three Proven Climate and Clean Energy Leaders in Michigan election Bids

LANSING, MI  -The Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club announced its endorsement of three environmental champions for Michigan’s upcoming state legislative elections. Shari Pollesch in state Senate District 22, Sen. Bert Johnson’s in  District 2, and Bryan Mielke in state House District 99 all earned the organization’s support. 

“These candidates have demonstrated strong support for clean air, clean water and for strengthening Michigan’s clean energy future,,” said Mike Berkowitz, Political and Legislative Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.  “These are issues everyday Michiganders care about and should be priorities for the next legislature.”
Shari Pollesch served on the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Board, including two years as chair. Pollesch regularly participates in Sierra Club activities including Citizen Lobby Day, advocacy trips to Washington D.C., writing letters to newspapers, and engaging in the fight against fracking in Livingston County.

Sen. Bert Johnson has a proven environmental track record during his time in the Michigan Legislature. Johnson regularly engages with Sierra Club members from his district on transportation, energy, and water policy. He received a 97% score from the Sierra Club for his voting record in the legislature.

Bryan Mielke is a computer scientist who designs software that monitors the safety of pipelines, an important job particularly in light of recent pipeline spills in Michigan. As a Union Township trustee, Mielke helped write the township’s smart growth master plan and also reformed wind turbine zoning to enable more wind energy installations.
The Sierra Club also endorsed Tim Killeen for Wayne County Commission District 1 and David Woodward for Oakland County Commission District 19.

Sierra Club volunteers from among the organization’s 150,000 Michigan members and supporters will work with endorsed candidates in their own communities, identifying and recruiting other likely voters who are concerned about the state’s environmental and energy policies, said Richard Morley Barron, Political Chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

“Sierra Club is a grassroots organization and our strength is in educating and mobilizing environmental voters,” said Barron.  “Given the unprecedented challenges facing our Great Lakes, our climate and a weakening of pollution protection and enforcement, we are committed to implementing the most robust effort of any election year in our history.  The times demand it and our members expect it.”

The Michigan Chapter’s Political Committee conducts thorough reviews of all candidates based on their environmental history, voting records and policy positions through candidate interviews and responses to candidate questionnaires.

A full list of candidates and ballot proposals endorsed by the Michigan Sierra Club, including federal, state and local candidates, is available at the following website:

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)


June 4, 2014

Michigan Required to Address Statewide Air Quality Concerns By 2015

June 4, 2014

Alison Flowers, Sierra Club,
Brad Van Guilder, Sierra Club,

Michigan Required to Address Statewide Air Quality Concerns By 2015
Residents testify about cumulative health impacts of pollution at state hearing

LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is submitting a new plan to the EPA that must ensure that air pollution does not exceed levels established to protect public health. The state plan, due by April 2015, must prevent unhealthy levels of key dangerous pollutants -- sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and ground-level ozone (smog) -- that contribute to diseases like asthma. At least eight counties in Michigan have levels of ozone and sulfur dioxide pollution above the federal air quality standards.

MDEQ is proposing to maintain the status quo, rather than drafting requirements that would end pollution violations by aging coal-fired plants, which are responsible for a significant portion of the emissions. More than 900 petitioners have called on MDEQ to create strong safeguards.

“There is something terribly wrong when the state of Michigan allows any of its counties to become sacrifice zones for pollution, leaving families to suffer the chronic health effects,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, while in Detroit for a conference. “Heavy industrial polluters like DTE Energy should not be given a free pass to violate our federal air quality standards that were created to protect residents.”

The EPA has already designated a portion of Wayne County as failing to meet the air quality standard for sulfur dioxide. Exposure to sulfur dioxide  in even very short time periods—such as five minutes—can have significant health impacts to human health, including causing decrements in lung function, aggravation of asthma, and respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity. Sulfur dioxide exposure can also aggravate existing heart disease, leading to increased hospitalizations and premature deaths.  Asthmatics, children and the elderly are especially at risk from such pollution. 

Wayne County has the highest number of pediatric asthma cases in Michigan, coupled with the highest state population living in poverty, according to a 2014 American Lung Association report. The City of Detroit and nearby downriver communities are, combined, a heavily polluted area deemed the “Epicenter of Asthma Burden” by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

According to the NAACP, DTE -- the utility that owns and operates three of Wayne County’s top sources of sulfur dioxide air pollution (DTE’s River Rouge plant, Trenton Channel plant and EES Coke at U.S. Steel) -- is one of the worst environmental justice offenders based on its plants’ impacts on low-income communities. These plants are responsible for at least 85 percent of all sulfur dioxide emissions in Wayne County.

Other Michigan counties are at risk of exceeding the same sulfur dioxide standard, including St. Clair, Macomb, Eaton, Clinton, Ingham, Ottawa, Monroe, and Marquette Counties.

The public hearing to address the state’s plan will be held today, Wednesday, June 4, at Constitution Hall (William Ford Conference Room, 2nd Floor) at 525 W. Allegan St. in Lansing.


June 2, 2014

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director Earns Top Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    More information:
Monday, June 2, 2014                                                David Holtz 313-300-4454

Michigan Sierra Club Leader Earns Top Award
State Director Anne Woiwode Receives National Honor

LANSING—Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter today announced that Anne Woiwode, Michigan’s senior environmental leader, received the Virginia Ferguson Award, a top honor given by national Sierra Club, the organization she has served continuously for more than three decades.

Named after the 122-year-old club’s first staff person, the Virginia Ferguson Award goes annually to a Sierra Club employee who has shown exemplary service and performance and was presented to Woiwode at the club’s national headquarters in San Francisco

“Anne’s leadership, integrity and commitment to Michigan has inspired me and countless others over the years. There is no environmental leader in our state with more wisdom, integrity and a deeper knowledge of environmental policy than Anne Woiwode,” said David HoltzMichigan Sierra Club Chapter Chair.  “All of us are extremely grateful for Anne’s continued contributions to making Michigan a better place and she is deeply deserving of this honor.”

Woiwode has been Michigan state director of Sierra Club since 1985.  She has been a leader on fighting widespread pollution in Michigan from large animal factories and helped lead a successful effort in 2008 to pass Michigan’s first clean energy legislation. Woiwode’s passion for protecting forest ecosystems led her to drive a campaign in 1987 that established 90,000 acres of wilderness under the Michigan Wilderness Act.

Woiwode’s leadership on clean energy is especially noteworthy. 

“Anne Woiwode has led many environmental battles in Michigan but probably none more precedent setting than her fight to move Michigan toward a clean energy future,” said Jan O’ConnellMichigan Chapter Development Director & Clean Energy Campaign Organizer.

In 2008, said O’Connell, Michigan was faced with an onslaught of eight newly proposed coal-fired power plants. Under Woiwode’s leadership dozens of groups across the state were organized to oppose the plants.  None have been built, largely due to Woiwode’s strategic skills and a the robust campaign implemented by Sierra Club and its allies.

Sierra Club is a volunteer-led organization with 160,000 members and supporters in Michigan.