April 18, 2016


April 18, 2016                                    

Mike Berkowitz


The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, a non-partisan environmental protection organization, today announced its first round of candidate endorsements in Michigan’s upcoming state house and congressional elections. Early endorsements are reserved for incumbents with proven pro-environment records and challengers who have a strong objective commitment to the principles of the Sierra Club. These endorsements precede the April 19 candidate filing deadline for the Michigan House of Representatives and US Congress.

“These Sierra Club endorsed candidates are champions who demonstrate strong leadership in promoting clean air, clean water, cleaner energy and a healthier Michigan,” said Mike Berkowitz, Political Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Our members are committed to making sure voters are aware of the strong environmental values of these endorsed candidates. We will work hard to ensure they are sent to Lansing or DC next year.”

Sierra Club has endorsed the following candidates for Congress:

Lon Johnson (D-1)
Dan Kildee (D-5)
Paul Clements (D-6)
Gretchen Driskell (D-7)
Melissa Gilbert (D-8)
Sander Levin (D-9)
Debbie Dingell (D-12)
John Conyers (D-13)
Brenda Lawrence (D-14)

Sierra Club-Michigan Chapter also endorsed the following candidates for State Representative:

Rose Mary Robinson (D-4)
Fred Durhal (D-5)
Stephanie Chang (D-6)
Leslie Love (D-10)
Julie Plawecki (D-11)
Erika Geiss (D-12)
Kristy Pagan (D-21)
Henry Yanez (D-25)
Robert Wittenberg (D-27)
Jeremy Moss (D-35)
Chris Greig (D-37)
Martin Howrylak (R-41)
Yousef Rabbi (D-53)
Adam Zemke (D-55)
Jon Hoadley (D-60)
Annie Brown (D-66)
Tom Cochran (D-67)
Andy Schor (D-68)
Sam Singh (D-69)
Theresa Abed (D-71)
Winnie Brinks (D-76)
Collene LaMonte (D-91)
Vanessa Guerra (D-95)
Bryan Mielke (D-99)
Dan Scripps (D-101)

“Sierra Club volunteers from among the organization’s approximately 80,000 Michigan members and supporters will work with endorsed candidates in their own districts, 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 political strength is in educating and mobilizing environmental voters,” said Barron.  “Given the unprecedented challenges facing our Great Lakes, our climate and the recent 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 80,000 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)

April 13, 2016

Enbridge Line 5 Operating Illegally

Snyder, Schuette asked to shut down “Line 5” over easement violations

Media Contacts:  Liz Kirkwood, FLOW,, office: 231-944-1568; cell: 570-872-4956 and David Holtz, Sierra Club, 313-300-4454/

Citing new research and documentation revealing cracks, dents, corrosion, and structural defects in the twin oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits, 22 environmental and tribal groups today formally requested that Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette shut down “Line 5” oil in the Straits based on Enbridge’s multiple easement violations.

The violations mean Enbridge is operating illegally and has broken its legal agreement with the state and people of Michigan.

Enbridge’s ongoing violations related to pipeline design threaten the very safety and health of the Great Lakes, and thus trigger the state’s duty to enforce its agreement with Enbridge. Under the 1953 easement, the state must provide Canadian-based energy transporter Enbridge 90 days to resolve any known easement violations. The state now has substantial legal and factual cause to terminate the agreement with Enbridge to stop the oil flow and protect the Great Lakes, public water supplies, and the Pure Michigan economy, according to an April 13 letter to Snyder and Schuette, signed by partner groups in the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign.
“The law and this easement agreement are clear: state leaders cannot wait another year or more while Enbridge continues to violate safety conditions it agreed to and withholds safety inspection and other data from the public and the state,” said environmental attorney Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW (For Love of Water) in Traverse City. “Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette must start the clock to terminate the state’s easement agreement that allows Enbridge to operate the Line 5 pipelines on state-owned bottomlands and waters.”

“The law and this easement agreement are clear: state leaders cannot wait another year or more while Enbridge continues to violate safety conditions it agreed to and withholds safety inspection and other data from the public and the state." - Liz Kirkwood, Environmental Attorney, Executive Director of FLOW (For Love of Water)

In their letter, the groups identified eight specific violations of the easement and state law, including:
  • Concealing information about cracks, dents, and corrosion with continued, sweeping assertions and misrepresentations that the Straits pipelines are in “excellent condition, almost as new as when they were built and installed” and have “no observed corrosion.” Of the nine rust spots on the eastern Straits pipeline, corrosion has eaten away 26 percent of the pipeline’s wall thickness in a 7-inch-long area, according to newly released company data.
  • Failing to meet the pipeline wall thickness requirement due to corrosion and manufacturing defects. Newly released Enbridge data reveals that manufacturing defects in the 1950s resulted in pipeline wall thickness of less than half an inch in perhaps hundreds of sections and up to 41 percent less thick than mandated on the west Straits pipeline. Enbridge continues to boast about its “nearly one-inch-thick walls of Line 5’s steel pipe travelling under the Straits.”
  • Failing to meet the “reasonably prudent person” provision by claiming that its steel pipelines lying underwater just west of the Mackinac Bridge since 1953 can last forever and do not require a plan for eventual decommissioning. The 63-year-old pipelines were built to last 50 years.
  • Failing to demonstrate adequate liability insurance, maintain required coating and wood-slat covering to prevent rust and abrasion and adequately support the pipeline, resulting in stressed and deformed segments.
  • Failing to adhere to federal emergency spill response and state environmental protection laws, including Act 10 of P.A. 1953, the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (“GLSLA”), the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (“MEPA”), and public trust law.