January 17, 2017

Sierra Club Response to Governor Snyder's State of the State Address

We are glad Governor Snyder acknowledged that the people in Flint have been without clean drinking water for over 2 years now. It is beyond time to fix this problem and the underlying issues that caused it” said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “We call on Governor Snyder and the state legislature to repeal the emergency manager law, improve Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule, establish citizen oversight for the Department of Environmental Quality, and create jobs for Michigan workers by funding environmentally sustainable infrastructure.”

January 16, 2017

Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group Supports Palisades Shutdown

News from Southwest Michigan Group,
Michigan Chapter, Sierra Club
Contact: Roger Taylor, Communications Chair,
January 12, 2017
Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group Supports Palisades Shutdown
Environmental group strongly opposes bailout, favors programs to support workers.
KALAMAZOO – Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group’s Executive Committee passed a resolution expressing strong support for the decision to permanently close the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township, Michigan.
The closure decision was announced last month by Entergy Corporation, Palisades’ Louisiana-based owner-operator. The December announcement followed completion of negotiations between Entergy and Palisades’ only customer, Consumers Energy. The companies agreed to terminate the power purchase agreement established in 2007 when Consumers sold Palisades to Entergy. The agreement, originally scheduled to last until 2022, will end four years early, in October, 2018.
The Sierra Club resolution enumerates the circumstances that made closing the plant financially advantageous for both companies and for Consumers’ customers. Spokespersons for Consumers say the shutdown will save their ratepayers $172 million, and that “energy reliability and affordability will not be affected.” A costly refueling shutdown, originally scheduled for October 2018, will become a money-saving permanent shutdown.
Pre-emptively opposing a possible bailout, Sierra Club’s resolution says that “officials and legislators must neither offer nor consider providing financial assistance…to keep Palisades operating or to cover decommissioning.” By regulation, before any nuclear plant opens, it must establish a fund that will eventually pay for its own decommissioning.
Bailouts of failing nuclear plants in Illinois and New York, says the resolution, have cost taxpayers and utility customers about $2.2 billion per plant. Rather than bailing out a failing business run by an out-of-state energy conglomerate, local Sierra Club officers urge Michigan officials to support newly unemployed Palisades workers at a tiny fraction of the cost of a bailout.
“No bailout for a business failure,” said Roger Taylor, who chairs the organization’s communications committee. “Instead, we should reward success! We all owe the dedicated and knowledgable Palisades work crew an enormous debt of gratitude for keeping us safe all these years, in spite of everything.” The resolution cites media coverage of allegations of mismanagement by Entergy and oversight failures by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The resolution also highlights the nuclear energy industry’s eternal and intractable problem: “Convincing arguments abound against continued production and stockpiling of dangerous high-level nuclear waste at Palisades and elsewhere, as U.S. officials have developed no workable plan for safe and permanent disposal.”
Sierra Club’s Southwest Michigan Group, an affiliate of Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter, has nearly 1400 members in nine Southwest Michigan counties. The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most effective grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. Our mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.

Additional links:
Web version of this news release -

January 6, 2017

Enbridge Line 5 Rejected from Tribal Lands

Friday, January 6, 2017

In Kicking Enbridge Off Reservation, Bad River Band Tribe Prioritizes Protecting People
Line 5 Pipeline Ouster Carries Strong Message For Gov. Snyder

A Wisconsin tribal government’s rejection this week of a request to allow Enbridge’s Line 5 to continue operating on tribal lands sends a powerful message to Michigan officials, who are weighing the fate of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan’s Oil & Water Don't Mix campaign said today.  

Citing the impact of a potentially damaging oil spill on tribal land, the Bad River Band Tribal Council directed that Line 5 pipeline removal begin on tribal lands, located just west of where the controversial pipeline enters Michigan and crosses the Straits of Mackinac.  Like the rest of the 645-mile pipeline, the Bad River portion of Line 5 was constructed in 1953.  In their decision to reject a renewal of several easement agreements with Enbridge, tribal officials cited the pipeline’s age and threat to the health and way of life of tribal members. 

In a news release, Bad River Tribal Chairman Robert Blanchard said, “As many other communities have experienced, even a minor spill could prove to be disastrous for our people.”

The Bad River Tribe’s decision was strong endorsed by the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign, including campaign steering committee member, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA).

“CORA commends Bad River on their courageous decision to deny the easement for Line 5, “ said Jane A. TenEyck, Executive Director of CORA. “The five CORA tribes have also called for removal of this pipeline that threatens the most productive fishing areas in the heart of our treaty waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan.”

CORA represents the Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Enbridge’s Line 5 has come under increased scrutiny in recent years after an Enbridge pipeline near Marshall, MI ruptured in 2010, spilling more than a million gallons of oil along the Kalamazoo River in the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.   The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin is currently weighing whether to renew a permit for a 11.5-mile section of Line 5.  In Michigan state officials are expected to consider Line 5 alternative proposals this spring, including those requiring Enbridge to decommission Line 5 in the Straits.

“Michigan’s Great Lakes way of life is threatened every day by these deteriorating Line 5 pipelines,” said David Holtz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee Chair.  “Gov. Snyder should show the same leadership as the Bad River Band Tribal Council, listen to other tribal voices here in Michigan, and stop the flow of oil through the Straits of Mackinac.”

With over 7,000 members, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on an over 124,000-acre reservation within Ashland and Iron Counties on the south shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin.


Sierra Club Releases Scorecard: State Lawmakers Get Disappointing Grades for 2015-16 Session

January 6, 2017
Contact: Mike Berkowitz, (248) 345-9808,

Sierra Club: State Lawmakers Get Disappointing Grades in 2015-2016 Legislative Session
Latest scorecard shows legislators failed to protect the environment or grow the green economy

LANSING - The Michigan Senate received a failing grade on the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s annual Legislative Scorecard, while the Michigan House didn’t fare much better.

The Scorecard, which tracked environmental voting behavior of state House and Senate members during the 2015-16 legislative session, gave the Senate a failing score of 55 percent, while the House narrowly passed with a score of 61 percent.

While the Scorecard generally showed that Democrats voted to maintain or strengthen environmental protections, Republicans often voted to weaken or eliminate environmental protections – actions that could have a devastating effect on Michigan’s economy.

“The 2015-2016 state Legislature was regressive when it comes to environmental protection, rolling back many of the safeguards we’ve had in place for decades. It’s shameful that the environment has become a partisan political issue,” said Mike Berkowitz, the Michigan Legislative Director for the Sierra Club. “Environmental protections are a no-brainer for all Michigan residents. Our members find it hard to believe that so many of our lawmakers are voting against clean air, clean water, and public health – all of which are vital not only for healthy living but also for a healthy tourism industry, one of the state’s largest economic drivers. We hope that incoming lawmakers will see our scorecard and be motivated to get rid of this anti-environment attitude in the next legislative session.”

The Sierra Club’s Scorecard calculated the results based upon 17 roll call votes in the House and Senate for the 2015-2016 legislative session. According to the Scorecard, House Democrats scored an average of 94 percent, while House Republicans scored an average of 36 percent. Senate Democrats scored an average of 91 percent, while Senate Republicans scored an average of 39 percent. Thirty-three lawmakers scored 100 percent, significantly more than the 2013-14 session when only four lawmakers got a perfect mark.

A full list of “Environmental Champions” (90-100 percent), “Environmental Stewards” (78-89 percent), and “Pollution Promoters” (zero-35 percent) is included at the end of this release.

Sterling Heights state Sen. Tory Rocca (R-10) was the highest scoring Republican with 82 percent, second highest in the GOP was Troy state Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-41) at 71 percent, and third highest was state Sen. Rick Jones (R-24) from Grand Ledge at 59 percent. Representatives Charles Brunner (D-96) and Scott Dianda (D-110) were the lowest scoring House Democrats, receiving a 71 percent. Sen. Virgil Smith (D-4) was the lowest scoring Senate Democrat with a 70 percent (Sen. Ian Conyers got a 50% but it was based on a very small sample size including only 2 votes). The full scorecard is available here. A full description of the bills included in the scorecard is available here.

“Our legislature has the wrong priorities when it comes to protecting Michigan’s environment,” said James D’Amour, a member of Michigan Sierra Club’s Political Committee who was once an active member of the Republican Party. “Clean air and clean water should not be partisan issues. We used to be leaders in making conservation a top priority, but no longer. The direction of the GOP is disappointing and disheartening for Republicans like me who care about protecting the environment while creating green jobs.”


The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 80,000 members and supporters in Michigan.


Environmental Champions (90-100% score)

District Name Party Score (%)
1 Coleman Young II D 100
2 Bert Johnson D 100
3 Morris Hood III D 100
11 Vincent Gregory D 100
18 Rebekah Warren D 100
27 Jim Ananich D 100
6 Hoon-Yung Hopgood D 94
9 Steven Bieda D 94
23 Curtis Hertel Jr. D 94

Environmental Stewards (78-89% score)

DistrictNamePartyScore (%)
5 David Knezek D 88
10 Tory Rocca R 82

Pollution Promoters (35% and below)

DistrictNamePartyScore (%)
12 Jim Marleau R 35
13 Marty Knollenburg R 35
14 David Robertson R 35
15 Mike Kowall R 35
17 Dale Zorn R 35
21 John Proos R 35
25 Phil Pavlov R 35
26 Tonya Schuitmaker R 35
28 Peter MacGregor R 35
29 Dave Hildenbrand R 35
30 Arlan Meekhof R 35
33 Judy Emmons R 35
34 Goeff Hansen R 35
35 Darwin Booher R 35
36 Jim Stamas R 35
37 Wayne Schmidt R 35
16 Mike Shirkey R 29


Environmental Champions (90-100% score)

District Name Party Score (%)
1 Brian Banks D 100
2 Alberta Talabi D 100
5 Fred Durhal D 100
6 Stephanie Chang D 100
8 Sherry Gay-Dagnogo D 100
11 Julie Plawecki D 100
11 Lauren Plawecki D 100
12 Erika Geiss D 100
15 George Darany D 100
18 Sarah Roberts D 100
21 Kristy Pagan D 100
25 Henry Yanez D 100
26 Jim Townsend D 100
27 Robert Wittenberg D 100
28 Derek Miller D 100
28 Patrick Green D 100
35 Jeremy Moss D 100
37 Christine Greig D 100
48 Pam Faris D 100
52 Gretchen Driskell D 100
53 Jeff Irwin D 100
55 Adam Zemke D 100
60 Jon Hoadley D 100
69 Sam Singh D 100
76 Winnie Brinks D 100
92 Marcia Hovey-Wright D 100
95 Vanessa Guerra D 100
3 Wendell Byrd D 94
7 LaTanya Garrett D 94
13 Frank Liberati D 94
29 Tim Greimel D 94
31 Marilyn Lane D 94
67 Tom Cochran D 94
68 Andy Schor D 94
4 Rose Mary Robinson D 94
22 John Chirkun D 94
75 David LaGrand D 92

Environmental Stewards (78-89% score)

DistrictNamePartyScore (%)
10 Leslie Love D 88
34 Sheldon Neeley D 88
49 Phil Phelps D 88
109 John Kivela D 88
16 Robert Kosowski D 88
9 Harvey Santana D 82
17 Bill LaVoy D 82
50 Charles Smiley D 82
54 David Rutledge D 82

Pollution Promoters (35% and below)

DistrictNamePartyScore (%)

19 Laura Cox R 35
24 Anthony Forlini R 35
32 Andrea LaFontaine R 35
36 Peter Lucido R 35
38 Kathy Crawford R 35
39 Klint Kesto R 35

42 Lana Theis R 35
43 Jim Tedder R 35
44 Jim Runestad R 35
45 Michael Webber R 35
47 Hank Vaupel R 35
51 Joseph Graves R 35
56 Jason Sheppard R 35
57 Nancy Jenkins R 35
58 Eric Leutheuser R 35
59 Aaron Miller R 35
61 Brandt Iden R 35
63 David Maturen R 35
66 Aric Nesbitt R 35
70 Rick Outman R 35
73 Chris Afendoulis R 35
74 Rob VerHeulen R 35
79 Al Pscholka R 35
81 Dan Lauwers R 35
86 Lisa Lyons R 35
87 Mike Callton R 35
88 Roger Victory R 35
89 Amanda Price R 35
90 Daniela Garcia R 35
91 Holly Hughes R 35
93 Tom Leonard R 35
97 Joel Johnson R 35
99 Kevin Cotter R 35
102 Phil Potvin R 35
107 Lee Chatfield R 35
20 Kurt Heise R 33
80 Mary Whiteford R 33
23 Pat Somerville R 29
33 Ken Goike R 29
46 Bradford Jacobsen R 29
64 Earl Poleski R 29
71 Tom Barrett R 29
72 Ken Yonker R 29
77 Tom Hooker R 29
94 Tim Kelly R 29
98 Gary Glenn R 29
100 Jon Bumstead R 29
105 Triston Cole R 29
101 Ray Franz R 24