February 23, 2016

Michigan residents flock to Lansing to urge Snyder, lawmakers to act now on straits pipeline

Michigan residents flock to Lansing to urge Snyder, lawmakers to act now on straits pipeline

Citizen lobbyists deliver 8,500 letters to governor urging action on aging Enbridge Line 5

Feb. 23, 2016

Media Contacts:  Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch, (586) 556-8805 |
Sean McBrearty, Clean Water Action, 
(616) 516-7758 |
LANSING—A growing wave of public concern about Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac brought dozens of citizens from across Michigan to Lansing Tuesday to urge lawmakers and the Snyder administration to act now to protect the Great Lakes from a disastrous oil spill. 

The day of action comes as communities around Michigan are raising their concerns about the pipeline and calling for immediate action. To date, more than 20 local units of government have passed resolutions urging Gov. Rick Snyder to use his authority to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac or demanding other state action to prevent an oil spill.

“It’s clearer now than ever that people and communities throughout Michigan will not tolerate the huge risk Line 5 continues to pose to our environment, economy and drinking water,” said Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch. “Business owners, environmentalists, tribal leaders and other Michiganders from all walks of life are united in our determination to stop the flow of oil through the Great Lakes. Our efforts today should make it unmistakably clear to our political leaders that inaction is not an acceptable option.”

Citizen lobbyists met with 22 state lawmakers on behalf of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign and asked them to support a resolution before both chambers that calls on the governor to terminate Enbridge’s easement of Great Lakes bottomlands and shut down Line 5 in the straits.Participants also dropped off some 8,500 letters at Gov. Snyder’s office calling on him to shut down the pipeline. 

“I think the huge stack of letters we’re delivering today is a sign of how passionately Michigan residents care about our Great Lakes and how urgent a threat we believe Line 5 poses to our water and way of life,” said Sean McBrearty, Clean Water Action. “Every day the governor allows Enbridge to pump oil through the Straits of Mackinac is another roll of the dice, with the world’s greatest freshwater resource at risk. Let’s quit gambling with the Great Lakes.”

The 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster—the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history—was one of more than 800 oil spills Enbridge was responsible for in the U.S. and Canada from 1999 to 2010. Today the company is working to skirt public review processes and expand its GXL pipeline network in the Great Lakes region to carry 1.1 million barrels per day of tar sands crude—a significantly greater volume than was proposed for the Keystone XL pipeline—according to a report issued last week by several environmental groups. Line 5 is part of the GXL network, and carries Canadian petroleum products from Superior, Wis., to Sarnia, Ontario.

“It’s time for Michigan’s leaders to stand up to Enbridge and make it clear that we will not allow the company to continue putting our Great Lakes at risk by using them as a shortcut from Canadian oil fields to Canadian refineries,” said Mike Berkowitz, legislative and political director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “The public’s concern about Line 5 could not be clearer. The Snyder administration must assert its authority before another disaster tarnishes our fresh water and our state’s reputation.”

February 16, 2016

Shame on Gov. Snyder for caving to AG Schuette, corporate polluters

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Contact: Mike Berkowitz, (248) 345-9808

Sierra Club: Shame on Gov. Snyder for caving to AG Schuette, corporate polluters

LANSING—Mike Berkowitz, Legislative and Political Director of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to pull the plug on a plan to reduce carbon pollution in Michigan:

“When it comes to actually leading Michigan’s transition away from dirty, expensive coal, we’ve seen nothing from Gov. Snyder but relentless, positive inaction. His decision to pull the plug on a common-sense plan to reduce carbon pollution in Michigan is shameful and is just another example of his failure to lead and protect Michigan’s families and natural resources. Once again, Snyder has caved to corporate polluters and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s political antics.”


February 5, 2016

Sierra Club Program Educates Citizens about Redistricting

Help Us Put People Back in Democracy

Government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, but did you know that democracy in Michigan has been hi-jacked through a process called gerrymandering? Our state legislature, like many around the country, has drawn voting districts in which lawmakers choose their voters rather than designing competitive legislative districts where voters make the decisions. The public is cut out of a process that is used by those in power to protect their power and insulate themselves from accountability to their constituents.

When elected officials are less accountable to the people they represent, it makes it more difficult for Sierra Club to have an impact. To address this, we've been raising awareness this year among Michigan residents about the negative effect of redistricting on our democracy. We need your help!

1) We need folks to table at events this summer and fall to distribute fliers with two simple survey questions for people to answer. We need volunteers to attend high traffic events and help us recruit people to answer these surveys and collect them for the Chapter.

2) Also, we can set you up for calling people to ask those survey questions by phone from the comfort of your own home. Click here to sign up:

We need lots of volunteers for this to succeed! If you have just a few hours to spare to talk with fellow Michiganders, you can help. It’s extremely easy to do, using a short script with two simple questions to ask folks either on the phone or at public events. For details or to volunteer, email

Gift cards are available for people who collect over 200 signatures!

Contact for more information.

February 3, 2016

Sierra Club Challenges Permit for Fish Farm in Au Sable River

Sierra Club Challenges Permit for Fish Farm in Au Sable River
Hearing Before DEQ Administrative Law Judge Starts February 8

For More Information, including copies of the DEQ-issued Permit and Sierra Club Contested Case Petition challenging it, contact:
Marvin RobersonSierra Club Forest Ecologist:  (906) 360-0288

LANSING--The Sierra Club announced the commencement of a Contested Case Hearing against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The hearing is regarding a challenge to the Michigan DEQ issuance of a permit to operate the old Grayling Fish Hatchery, situated within the Au Sable River, as an industrial fish farm. The Au Sable is a world famous trout stream, and a destination for thousands of anglers annually.

The DEQ issued the permit to Harrietta Hills, Trout Farm, LLC, to operate the facility on July 1, 2014. The Sierra Club challenged the DEQ permit on August 11, 2014. The challenge was issued under the MDEQ Contested Case procedure, which is similar to a court trial, but held in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Sierra Club is asking the Administrative Law Judge to overturn the permit which allows the facility to operate.

According to Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club Forest Ecologist, the permit conditions are so lax as to pose a grave danger to the Au Sable ecosystem. “The DEQ issued a permit to operate an industrial scale fish farm right in the Au Sable River. This permit contains absolutely no limits on  the discharge of live fish, dead fish, fish parts, or fish parasites, pathogens, or diseases," said Roberson.

The Sierra Club contends that it is simply not possible to operate a commercial fish farm safely in a location such as the Grayling Hatchery. 

“This facility sits within the flow of the Au Sable. It is an incontrovertible fact that when fish farms are connected to natural bodies of water, animals and diseases move from the farm to the natural water body," said Roberson. 
“This permit seems to bode poorly for the future of safe aquaculture in the state of Michigan” Roberson said, in reference to a major push by the state to increase aquaculture in Michigan. “If the state is willing to allow unlimited live, dead, and diseased fish into a system as small and delicate as the Au Sable, imagine what they will allow into the Great Lakes”.

The hearing begins Monday, February 8 in Lansing, and is scheduled to conclude by Thursday, March 3. Anglers of the Au Sable, based in Grayling, have also filed a petition challenging the permit, and are also plaintiffs in the Contested Case proceeding.