July 20, 2015

Sierra Club Endorses Fracking Ban Ballot Proposal

Sierra Club Endorses Fracking Ban Ballot Proposal
Group Joins Campaign To End Radioactive Fracking Waste Imports

Monday July 20, 2015
Media Contacts:   
Craig Brainard  269-223-9201/ 

LANSING—Sierra Club today announced its support for a proposed ballot measure that would ban radioactive and other fracking wastes from Michigan and end risky, high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Great Lakes State. The club’s endorsement of The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s proposal means the organization will mobilize its hundreds of volunteers and more than 60,000 members and supporters to put the proposed measure on the 2016 ballot.  

“If the ban fracking proposal is placed on the ballot, voters in Michigan who overwhelmingly say they want to protect our state’s waters, land and communities will have the opportunity to overcome the oil industry’s grip on Lansing and protect our state,” said David Holtz, chair of Sierra Club Michigan Executive Committee.   “Michigan shouldn’t be the dumping grounds for other states’ radioactive and chemical fracking wastes and we shouldn’t be putting our public health and our waters at risk.”

Holtz noted that the endorsement vote from among Sierra Club leaders throughout the state was unanimous. 

Two longtime Sierra Club leaders, John Ford of Ann Arbor and Craig Brainard of Hastings, will coordinate the club’s campaign activities in support of the proposed fracking ban petition drive, which needs 252,523 signatures from Michigan voters to qualify for the November, 2016 ballot. 

“We understand it’s a huge challenge to get this on the ballot,” said Brainard. “Sierra Club felt strongly that we needed to step up and help make this ballot initiative a success.”

Sierra Club’s announcement of its endorsement of a ban on high volume fracking and injection of fracking wastes follows more than three years of study of the issue along with the release of the University of Michigan’s Graham Institute report on fracking in Michigan. The report points to uncertainties and potential risks involving fracking operations in Michigan.  Following studies of health and environmental risks, New York banned fracking in that state.  

Nearly a year ago it was publicly disclosed that Michigan was importing radioactive fracking wastes from Pennsylvania after landfills in that state and in West Virginia refused to take it.   A state panel in Michigan meeting behind closed doors subsequently gave the go-ahead to continue and potentially expand importing radioactive wastes.

 “Michigan is opening its doors to a flood of radioactive fracking wastes other states don’t want,” said Ford.  “When we take that message to Michigan voters they will act to slam the doors shut.  Our campaign is about giving Michigan voters a choice and we are confident they don’t want Michigan to be the new ground zero for radioactive wastes.”


July 14, 2015

Sierra Club Responds to Enbridge Pipeline Report

Tuesday,  July 14, 2015
Media contact:   David Holtz,

The following statement can be attributed to David Holtz, Chair,
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee:

Today’s Michigan Petroleum Task Force recommendations by Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Snyder administration appear to offer the potential for eventual relief from the threat of Enbridge’s pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac, but leave the Great Lakes, drinking water sources and northern Michigan’s tourist economy unacceptably vulnerable to a catastrophic pipeline rupture.

If you believe these existing pipelines pose an immediate threat to the Great Lakes—and we do—the task force recommendations amount to a rearranging of deck chairs on Michigan’s Titanic of oil pipelines, only worse:  the threat of Enbridge’s pipelines through the Straits are there for all to see.  What is needed—and needed now—is to shut down Line 5.  Only then can Michiganders be assured that the Great Lakes and northern Michigan’s tourist economy are no longer at risk from an oil spill that would consume the shoreline around Mackinac Island and from Lake Michigan to Rogers City along Lake Huron.

Unfortunately, Attorney General Schuette and the Snyder administration failed to prioritize the immediate threat of the Straits pipelines.  That is disappointing and given that many of the recommendations in the report could take months and years to implement, the report constitutes a failure on the part of state officials to prioritize protecting the Great Lakes over protecting the oil industry’s profits.

The task force recommendation to examine alternatives to the Enbridge pipelines through the Straits is welcome but must be a public, transparent process instead of the behind-the-scenes, secretive process that has mostly characterized the pipeline task force proceedings.  Moreover, the task force recommendations reinforce the need for transparency and we are disappointed that the task force failed to lodge opposition to pending legislation what would make most pipeline safety documents secret.