August 8, 2018

PRESS RELEASE - Sierra Club: Clear Choice for Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Voters Provide Clear Choice 
for the Great Lakes State
Associated Press Declares Gretchen Whitmer, 
Bill Schuette Winners in Primary Races for Governor

The following statement can be attributed to Anne Woiwode,
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair

Sierra Club congratulates Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette on their apparent primary election victories today in the governor’s race. These two candidates could not be more different in their approaches and priorities when it comes to protecting the public health and Michigan’s Great Lakes environment. 

Voters have clear choices for who will shape the future of the Great Lakes and enforce our public health and environmental laws: Gretchen Whitmer, who led Michigan’s clean energy revolution, opposes oil pipelines in the Great Lakes and has fought for clean air and clean water; and Bill Schuette, who over the course of his long political career has consistently worked to weaken laws that protect wildlife and our waters and instead lined up with polluters and against consumer protections, clean energy and clean air.   As Michigan Attorney General, Schuette gained a deserved reputation as an ally of polluting industries and tried, unsuccessfully, to block clean air rules, including pollution limits on mercury and other toxins.

In 2010, Republicans nominated a candidate for governor who held out the promise of modeling himself after the legendary Bill Milliken on the environment:  a moderate who pioneered shorelands protection and conservation.   Instead Michigan saw the worst public health crisis in modern history caused by the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder that prioritized money over people and has consistently sided with the oil industry instead of acting to protect the Great Lakes from oil pipelines.  

Bill Schuette doesn’t even pretend to be a Milliken Republican but, rather, models himself after Donald Trump.  Fortunately, voters have the opportunity to choose Gretchen Whitmer, the candidate for governor whose values and priorities are more in line with a place we call the Great Lakes State.   
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August 1, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Court Decision Victory for Michigan Democracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Media contact:  David Holtz 313-300-4454/david@davidholtz.org

Sierra Club: Court Decision
Victory for Michigan Democracy
Ending Gerrymandering Key To
Protecting Michigan’s Environment

LANSING, MI—Sierra Club today said Tuesday’s Michigan Supreme Court decision on the Voters Not Politicians redistricting reform rejecting an attempt to block the nonpartisan proposal from the November ballot is a victory for democracy, the rule of law and citizen initiatives.

“With this decision, we the people now get the chance to vote in November to end gerrymandering,” said Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair.   “Michigan’s gerrymandered redistricting process is a cancer that is eating away at our democracy and eroding public confidence in our government.  What will be  Proposal 2 in November means better politics, better democracy and better government.”

Over the past three years, Sierra Club has been educating its members and supporters about Michigan’s redistricting process and earlier this year endorsed the Voters Not Politicians ballot proposal.   Sierra Club volunteers from across the state have been working with staff to organize for the fall election, said Woiwode.

“If we end gerrymandering and Michigan voters get to choose their politicians instead of the other way around in a fair election process we will have a much better chance of protecting our air, water and land,” said Woiwode. “The current gerrymandered system dilutes people power and shifts control to corporate lobbyists.  That’s bad for Michigan’s environment and bad for Michigan’s democracy.”

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About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.4 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 http://www.sierraclub.org.

July 9, 2018

Sierra Club Endorses Gretchen Whitmer


Leading Environmental Group Is First To Endorse in 2018 Race

LANSING, MI—Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest environmental organization, today announced its endorsement of Gretchen Whitmer for governor, citing the Democratic candidate’s strong record and leadership on issues impacting Michigan’s public health and Great Lakes environment. 

This is the first announced environmental endorsement of a candidate for governor in either party in the 2018 Michigan election.

“Gretchen Whitmer is an extraordinary candidate and Sierra Club is excited to announce our strong endorsement of her as the next governor of the Great Lakes State,” said Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair.  “She brings something we have not had for eight years, which is a strong, decisive leader with a proven track record on public health, Michigan's environment and social justice.  

“Gretchen Whitmer's voice, values and experience are what Michigan desperately needs.  Following eight years of disastrous policies that have left communities like Flint badly diminished and protection of our lakes, rivers and streams put in the hands of corporate polluters, Gretchen Whitmer will again make people and our natural heritage a priority.”
Whitmer’s public health and environmental ratings were among the highest in the  state Legislature and included helping establish the state’s first renewable and efficiency standards to promote clean energy.  As a candidate for governor, Whitmer has prioritized protecting drinking water, combating climate change, ending the threat of oil pipelines in the Great Lakes and fighting environmental injustices  impacting Michigan families.

Gretchen Whitmer is a mom like me and wants what most of us want and that’s a healthy Michigan for our kids and our future,” said Deitra Porter, a Sierra Club member from the Detroit area.  “She cares about protecting our children and wants to make sure that government is on the side of families who need affordable, safe drinking water and early childhood education so their kids have the tools they need to protect the planet.  That’s why as a Sierra Club volunteer leader I support endorsing Gretchen Whitmer for Michigan’s next governor.”  

Patrick Egan, a Sierra Club member and resident of Brimley in the Upper Peninsula, cited Whitmer’s track record and commitment to protecting the Great Lakes.

"Michigan forests and the Great Lakes don't have a vote. Gretchen Whitmer was here and told us she will represent Michigan's priceless assets,” said Egan. “She will decommission the 65-year-old, obsolete oil pipeline that crosses over 200 Upper Peninsula bodies of water and keep all Michiganders safe from the dangers of Line 5."

Sierra Club’s endorsement of Whitmer came as a result of votes by the Michigan Chapter’s volunteer Political Committee and elected Executive Committee, both of which represent local Sierra Club groups and members throughout the state.  Under the club’s rules, a two-thirds vote is required for endorsement.  

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The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 130,000 members and supporters in Michigan.

June 29, 2018

Governor Snyder Signs Bills Giving Polluting Industries Control Over Environmental Protections in Michigan

Friday, June 29, 2018
Contact: 
April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org
LANSING, MI -- Today Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law two bills which allow industry lobbyists to rewrite the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) rulebook and overrule MDEQ permit decisions. Now signed into law, Senate Bills 652-653 will ultimately lead to more environmental and public health disasters like the Flint water crisis, toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, Nestle’s massive Great Lakes water withdrawal, and toxic air pollution hot spots in Detroit. Over two thousand Sierra Club activists contacted Gov. Snyder since the bills were passed to demand that he veto these dangerous bills, but he failed to do so. These bills will prevent impacted communities and residents concerned about industry pollution from having any say in permit and rule decisions.

“Michigan, like the rest of the nation, has already been robbed of our best protections against dangerous air and water pollution since Scott Pruitt took control of EPA,” said Rhonda Anderson, Organizing Manager for Sierra Club. “Now that this legislation has been signed by Governor Snyder, we’ll have our own Pruitt right here in Michigan, with polluting industries in direct control of our state environmental agency. Communities are already facing unacceptable levels of toxins and pollution in our state. The crisis in Flint has yet to be addressed. Now that Governor Snyder has given away control of our environmental protections in Michigan to big polluters, we are facing an unprecedented crisis of environmental injustice and public health.”

Gov. Snyder has also failed to implement recommendations developed by the Environmental Justice Work Group that he himself created following direct recommendations from the Flint Water Advisory Task Force and the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee’s Policy Subcommittee. The Work Group, which includes many prominent environmental justice community leaders, submitted their recommendations in March but have yet to see any response from the Governor.

"These bills give industry lobbyists and special interest groups overreaching powers into public health decisions,” said Michelle Martinez, Statewide Coordinator for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. “The levels of cancer and cardiovascular disease for our elders, and asthma in children, in areas of Southeast Michigan are costing our families billions of dollars every year, and for some residents forcing them to make harsh decision between medication and other life essentials. Why continue to roll back protections for clean air and clean water now after such staggering crisis like Flint? Instead we should be looking at implementing the Environmental Justice Recommendations put forth-- which have been sitting on Snyder's desk since March-- they provide real solutions, and steps to protect the Great Lakes and safeguard their residents today and in the future."

MDEQ already has a slipshod track record on public health. Allowing polluting industry officials to regulate themselves sets the state up for further health crises and long-lasting environmental degradation.

“The lack of transparency, poor responsiveness to public concerns, and continued negligence of the Michigan DEQ violates basic human rights,” said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative and Political Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “A public forum for community members to call attention to dangerous environmental problems, and to hold in check political pressure on agency staff is absolutely essential. Governor Snyder’s decision to sign these bills is a slap in the face to front-line communities dealing with environmental injustices and will further degrade the DEQ’s already terrible pattern of not listening to citizen concerns.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

May 24, 2018

Five Questions On Line 5 For Michigan's Next Governor



LANSING, MI--Leading Democratic and Republican candidates for Michigan’s next governor are meeting Thursday, May 31 on Mackinac Island for a debate hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Mackinac Island is ground zero for an Enbridge oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac.  A new EPIC-MRI poll made public today shows 87 percent of likely voters in Michigan’s November election are concerned about a Great Lakes oil spill from Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits .
Sierra Club and Clean Water Action Think Candidates for Governor Should Answer the Following Questions as They Debate on Mackinac Island in the Shadow of Dangerous Line 5:
1) As Governor will you use your authority to shut down Enbridge Line 5 and keep all oil pipelines out of the Great Lakes?

2) Will you pledge today to not accept any campaign contributions from political action committees or individuals connected with Enbridge Energy or the oil industry?

3) Enbridge Energy has violated its agreement with the State of Michigan to operate Line 5 by failing to maintain anchor supports as required and allowing protective pipeline coatings to deteriorate.  Will you as Governor use your authority to revoke the state’s easement agreement with Enbridge for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac?

4) Will you state unequivocally that you oppose any replacement scheme for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac that keeps oil pipelines in the Great Lakes, including a tunnel through the Straits?

5) The Treaty of 1836 establishes the right to fish in the Straits of Mackinac for Michigan’s Native American tribes. This right is dependent on a healthy ecosystem to support fish stocks.   Do you agree that this Treaty prevents the state from legally permitting a tunnel, trench or other pipeline construction that would damage the ecological resources of the Straits and leave Native American fishing rights at risk from an oil pipeline rupture?
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May 15, 2018

Press Release: Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Endorses Dana Nessel for Michigan Attorney General

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact: Angela Vasquez-Giroux Wittrock
Tuesday, May 15, 2018         media@dana2018.com


Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Endorses Dana Nessel for Michigan Attorney General
Laud Nessel’s deep commitment to protecting public health, Great Lakes

LANSING -- Noting her pledge to shut down Enbridge Line 5 as her first act in office and her unwavering commitment to protecting public health and the Great Lakes, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter has endorsed Dana Nessel for Michigan Attorney General, her campaign announced today.

“Given the unprecedented challenges facing our Great Lakes, our climate, and public health, getting Dana Nessel elected as Michigan's next Attorney General is one of our top priorities,” said Mike Berkowitz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Legislative and Political Director. “In contrast, Bill Schuette is the worst environmental Attorney General we've had in decades, leading the charge against air emission safeguards, disregarding the impacts of climate change, and consistently siding with corporate polluters. Dana Nessel will restore integrity and the values of environmental justice to the office of the Attorney General.”

The Sierra Club is a grassroots organization whose political strength is in educating and mobilizing environmental voters. In backing Dana Nessel, the Sierra Club brings with them their 150,000 Michigan members and supporters who will stand with Dana and work hard to make sure she wins in November.

“For the past 15 years, the office of Michigan Attorney General has been used to protect the bottom line of wealthy corporations, even as they pollute our air and poison our water to increase their profits,” Nessel said. “That stops on my first day in office. I’ll shut down Enbridge Line 5 and put the power of the AG’s office where it belongs: protecting the people of Michigan, and holding corporate polluters accountable when they harm our communities and our natural treasures.”

Nessel, a noted civil rights attorney and former Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor, is the Michigan Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for state Attorney General.  She’s earned the endorsement of a broad coalition of community leaders, elected officials, advocacy organizations and labor unions, including the Democratic Attorneys General Association, Michigan Association for Justice, the Michigan Education Association and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

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Dana Nessel is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School. She was most recently managing partner of Nessel & Kessel Law, located in Detroit, and has nearly 25 years of legal experience. In 2012, she spearheaded the precedent-setting case, DeBoer v. Snyder, which challenged bans on adoption and marriage for same-sex couples in Michigan. She’s a fighter for Michigan residents.

April 20, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: SIERRA CLUB MAKES EARLY ENDORSEMENTS FOR 2018 ELECTION



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2018

CONTACT:
Mike Berkowitz
248.345.9808
mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org

SIERRA CLUB MAKES EARLY ENDORSEMENTS FOR 2018 ELECTION

The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, a non-partisan environmental protection organization, today announced its first round of candidate endorsements for the 2018 primary and general elections. Early endorsements are reserved for incumbents with proven pro-environment records and challengers who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the principles of the Sierra Club. These endorsements precede the April 24 candidate filing deadline for candidates.

“Sierra Club endorses candidates 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 candidates. We will work hard to ensure these candidates are sent to Lansing or DC next year.”

The Sierra Club has endorsed United States Senator Debbie Stabenow for re-election and the following candidates for Congress:

Matt Morgan (D-1)
Dan Kildee (D-5)
Gretchen Driskell (D-7)
Elissa Slotkin (D-8)
Debbie Dingell (D-12)
Brenda Lawrence (D-14)

The Sierra Club has endorsed Jocelyn Benson for Michigan Secretary of State and the following candidates for State Senator and Representative:

Senate:
Stephanie Chang (D-1)
Jeremy Moss (D-11)
Sean McCann (D-20)
Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-23)
Jim Ananich (D-27)
Winnie Brinks (D-29)

House of Representatives:
Joseph Tate (D-2)
Latanya Garrett (D-7)
Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-8)
Abdullah Hammoud (D-15)
Kevin Hertel (D-18)
Kristy Pagan (D-21)
Darrin Camilleri (D-23)
Jim Ellison (D-26)
Robert Wittenberg (D-27)
William Sowerby (D-31)
Sheldon Neeley (D-34)
Christine Greig (D-37)
Tim Sneller (D-50)
Donna Lasinski (D-52)
Yousef Rabhi (D-53)
Jon Hoadley (D-60)
David LaGrand (D-75)
Rachel Hood (D-76)
Terry Sabo (D-92)
Vanessa Guerra (D-95)

At the local level, the Sierra Club has endorsed the following candidates for Oakland County Commission and Wayne County Commission:

Oakland County:
David Bowman (D-10)
Marcia Gershenson (D-13)
Helaine Zack (D-18)
Dave Woodward (D-19)

Wayne County:
Tim Killeen (D-1)
Martha Scott (D-3)
Ilona Varga (D-4)
Glenn Anderson (D-12)
Ray Basham (D-14)

Finally, the Sierra Club endorsed Voters Not Politicians and Promote The Vote, two statewide ballot initiatives aimed at improving Michigan’s participatory democracy. Voters Not Politicians will end partisan gerrymandering by establishing an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Promote The Vote will make voting more accessible, secure and fair for everyone who wants to participate in our elections.

“Sierra Club volunteers from among the organization’s 150,000 Michigan members and supporters will work with endorsed candidates and campaigns, identifying and recruiting 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 public health, 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 candidates based on their environmental history, voting records and policy positions through candidate interviews and responses to candidate questionnaires. The Sierra Club will continue reviewing candidates for the 2018 election on a rolling basis with the intention of making two more rounds of endorsements, one before the primary election in August and one following it.

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: http://tinyurl.com/SCMIEndorse.

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.4 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 http://www.sierraclub.org.

Paid for by Michigan Sierra PAC (109 E. Grand River Ave. Lansing, MI 48906)

April 12, 2018

ACTION ALERT: Clean Water For Flint!

Demand Clean Public Water for Flint!

On Friday, April 6, Governor Snyder notified the Flint community through a press release that the State of Michigan would no longer provide bottled water once the existing supply ran out, despite continuing concerns about water safety. As of Tuesday, April 10, the supply of bottled water dried up, leaving residents scrambling to secure clean water for drinking, cooking and other daily needs.

Contact Governor Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Calley to tell them Flint needs bottled water until after all lead service lines are replaced, and their accountability and transparency are necessary for all of Michigan! 

Lead service lines are being replaced quickly when weather allows - and replacing the remaining thousands of lead service lines will at least take until the end of 2019. When the pipes are replaced, lead is released into the water supply - potentially spiking lead levels for months after pipes are replaced in neighborhoods housing tens of thousands of Flint residents. There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and effects are especially dangerous for children and pregnant residents.

The State of Michigan has not earned the public's trust in ensuring the safety of Flint's tap water supply, and has evaded accountability for addressing the water crisis it caused. Examples from 2018 include:
  • State officials ignored repeated community demands for transparency about comprehensive water quality measures, including fluctuating levels of lead and bacteria-killing chlorine. 
  • Governor Snyder publicly discredited and intimidated researchers examining concerning bacteria levels in Flint point-of-use water filters, including by pulling research funding. 
  • Rich Baird, Governor Snyder's lead cabinet employee for the Flint water crisis response, stole a Flint-based researcher's proposal for a comprehensive school water testing program that would intentionally involve members of the school community to build trust in the water testing results. He commissioned an outside researcher to do a watered-down version of the program without a component to rebuild trust. 
  • During recent water testing of Flint school faucets, State officials changed the water sampling procedure mid-way through three rounds of testing, apparently to obtain desired results for lead levels in the water. These test results were used by the State to declare that the water crisis was over, which lead to the abrupt end of bottled water for Flint residents. 
  • Meanwhile, as Flint residents pay one of the highest drinking water rates in the nation, the State nearly doubled the amount of water that Nestle can extract from Michigan to bottle and sell for profit, despite more thank 85,000 public comments against this move. Privatizing Michigan water is unjust for all of Michigan residents and signals a worrying trend in our state government.

Contact Governor Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Calley to tell them Flint needs bottled water until after all lead service lines are replaced, and their accountability and transparency are necessary for all of Michigan!

April 10, 2018

Join Us for a Factory Farm Action Training!

May 19: CAFOs 101 Citizen Training!
Photo credit: Jeff Vanuga, USDA/NRCS
Michigan is experiencing a factory farm rush due to new hog and dairy processing facilities proposed around the state. As a result, plans for at least two new large-scale hog operations that pack thousands animals into warehouses and generate millions of gallons of waste annually have been unveiled for the Montague and Jackson areas in just the last year. These operations, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), join 272 large-scale livestock facilities already in Michigan.

When these "farms" come into a new community, they typically blindside unsuspecting local residents who have little knowledge of how to fight back. These neighbors end up living in close proximity to an industry known for generating water and air pollution, lowering land values and burdening local communities with road repair and other costs. If you are concerned about this trend in our food system, join us for our citizen activist workshop in May!  

WHAT: CAFOs 101, a training to arm Michigan citizens with the knowledge to mobilize against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and their threat to our Great Lakes, inland bodies of water and public health. You'll learn about the history of CAFOs in Michigan, the regulatory and political context they operate in and how you can help fight back if one tries to locate in your community and how to help us build a network of CAFO Busters across Michigan.

WHEN: Saturday, May 19, 10am-1pm  (includes program and light lunch)

WHERE:  Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, 600 W. Maple St., Lansing 

WHO: Sponsored by Sierra Club Michigan, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, Food and Water Watch, Public Justice, Great Lakes Environmental law Center, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Blue River Law

ADMISSION: Free, but $10 donations to cover lunch accepted by non-profit sponsors

RSVP Required by May 11:  Click here to register. Space is limited.

 
Questions? Email gail.philbin@sierraclub.org.

April 4, 2018

Detroit Environmental Justice Leader Unjustly Incarcerated for Defending Family from Assault

Siwatu-Salama Ra Sentenced to Two Years in Prison During High-Risk Pregnancy
Monday, April 2, 2018
Contact: 
April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org
Detroit, MI -- Earlier this month, Siwatu-Salama Ra, Co-Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), was sentenced to two years in prison for defending herself and her young child from an attacker. Siwatu is a member of the Sierra Club family, the daughter of Rhonda Anderson, a Sierra Club organizing manager in Detroit with nearly twenty years experience. Siwatu’s leadership at EMEAC has helped build community power through environmental justice education, youth development, and collaborative relationship building -- and Siwatu has emerged as a national and international environmental justice leader, participating in numerous conferences like COP21 in Paris.
Siwatu is 26, the mother of a 3 year old, and is 7 months pregnant. She came into contact with the criminal justice system because of an incident in which an attacker threatened to strike Siwatu, her three-year-old daughter and her mother with a car. Siwatu showed her legal, permitted, unloaded handgun in an attempt to scare off the attacker, as allowed by Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law. She did not fire the unloaded gun and no one was harmed.
Siwatu was unjustly arrested, tried and convicted of felony gun charges and sentenced to two years in prison. She is now experiencing a high-risk pregnancy in prison, and could be forced to deliver her child while incarcerated.
In response, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club released the following statement:
“Siwatu-Salama Ra is a powerful and inspiring leader in the Michigan environmental justice community, and a member of the Sierra Club family who has been unjustly incarcerated for defending herself and her family as should be permitted by law. Siwatu has spent her life fighting environmental injustice and pushing back against the big polluters who are violating the law to poison her community. She does this difficult work against the backdrop of a legal system and society that disproportionately oppress people of color, particularly Black women, at every turn. In this case, it does not appear that she is being afforded the protection of the law she deserves, as is all too often the case for women of color dealing with our criminal justice system. Black women are incarcerated at a rate four times higher than white women, and Siwatu’s case is a tragic example of this injustice.
“Her unjust incarceration during a high-risk pregnancy  is just one example of the racism people of color in our country experience every day. Her story underscores the reality that our struggles are all deeply connected - from environmental justice to the fight against racialized oppression in the criminal justice system. That’s why we join the voices across the country urging Siwatu’s sentence be commutated or that she be released on an appeal bond so that she can have a healthy pregnancy, raise her children, and exercise her rights free from injustice as everyone in this country should have the opportunity to do.”

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You can donate to her legal defense fund via You Caring and see FreeSiwatu.org

March 20, 2018

Factory Farm Rush in Michigan Inspires Citizen Activist Training

CAFOs 101 Teaches Communities How to Fight Back

Michigan is experiencing a factory farm rush due to new hog and dairy processing facilities proposed around the state. As a result, plans for at least two new large-scale hog operations that pack thousands animals into warehouses and generate millions of gallons of waste annually have been unveiled for the Montague and Jackson areas in just the last year. These operations, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), join 272 large-scale livestock facilities already in Michigan.

When these "farms" come into a new community, they typically blindside unsuspecting local residents who have little knowledge of how to fight back. These neighbors end up living in close proximity to an industry known for generating water and air pollution, lowering land values and burdening local communities with road repair and other costs. If you are concerned about this trend in our food system, join us for our citizen activist workshop in May!

WHAT: CAFOs 101, a training to arm Michigan citizens with the knowledge to mobilize against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and their threat to our Great Lakes, inland bodies of water and public health. You'll learn about the history of CAFOs in Michigan, the regulatory and political context they operate in and how you can help fight back if one comes to your town and how to help us build a network of CAFO Busters across Michigan.

WHEN: Saturday, May 19, 10am-1pm  (includes program and light lunch)

WHERE:  Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, 600 W. Maple St., Lansing

WHO: Sponsored by Sierra Club Michigan, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, Food and Water Watch, Public Justice, Great Lakes Environmental law Center, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Blue River Law

ADMISSION: Free, but donations accepted by non-profit sponsors

RSVP Required by May 11:  Click here to register. Space is limited.

Questions? Email gail.philbin@sierraclub.org.

February 26, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Line Not Needed to Supply Propane to Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 26, 2018
CONTACT: Sean McBrearty, Oil & Water Don’t Mix, (616) 516-7758

Line 5 Not Needed to Supply Propane to Michigan
Snyder and Schuette Putting U.P. Residents and Great Lakes at Risk by Not Pursuing Alternatives
LANSING- Citizens groups gathered at the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting today to call attention to new information regarding the Upper Peninsula’s propane supply from Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline. Both state authorities and Enbridge Energy representatives claim that decommissioning Enbridge’s antiquated and corroding Line 5 pipeline would significantly impact the propane supply in the Upper Peninsula. This claim is not accurate according to a recent study by retired Dow Chemical Facilities Engineer Gary Street released by Oil & Water Don't Mix.

“Enbridge currently claims that 65% of the propane in the Upper Peninsula is supplied by Line 5. In the recent past, they claimed as much as 85%. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau does not support either of these claims; the actual amount of propane supplied to customers in the Upper Peninsula that originates with Line 5 is about 45-50%. Nevertheless, whether it is 85%, 65% or 45%, the customers in the Upper Peninsula who rely on propane must be assured of an uninterrupted supply,” said Street.

“It is important to note that Line 5 will be shut down at some point in the near future. Whether that is by government edict or rupture remains to be seen. Either way, the fact remains that state authorities owe it to the Upper Peninsula propane customers to have a backup plan in place to ensure uninterrupted propane supply in the event that Line 5 is shut down,” said Bill Latka, co-founder of TC350, noting that Line 5 has previously ruptured at least 29 times in its history. “Instead of planning to ensure that the Upper Peninsula’s propane needs are met in the short term as we transition towards more renewable sources of energy, Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have used the propane issue as an excuse to keep this old and dangerous pipeline operating for as long as possible.”

According to Street’s research, several prudent alternatives exist that could provide the amount of propane needed to U.P. customers in the event of a Line 5 shut down, including the following:
  • Installing a 4-inch propane pipeline from Superior, Wisconsin, to Rapid River, Michigan, along the current route of Line 5. A study prepared for MPSAB confirmed this conclusion.
  • Connecting the Plains All American Rapid River propane processing plant to a nearby rail line and moving propane from Superior, Wisconsin, by rail. Just 1-2 rail propane rail cars per day would be required.
  • Using 3-4 tank trucks per day to transport propane from Superior, Wisconsin, to the Plains All American Rapid River propane processing plant

Line 5 propane from the Rapid River plant is currently transported by truck from the plant to where the propane is needed in the Upper Peninsula, so that part of the delivery would not have to change at all.

“All that we are lacking now is leadership, and the political will to protect our Great Lakes by decommissioning this pipeline. So far Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have acted as if they are beholden to Enbridge instead of the voters who elected them and trusted them to protect our water resources,” said Oil and Water Don’t Mix Campaign Coordinator Sean McBrearty. “Tens of thousands of Michigan residents from Detroit to Copper Harbor have been calling on our Governor and Attorney General to exercise their legal authority as public trustees to decommission this pipeline and prioritize our public waters. It is time for them to stop presenting misleading information about propane and start the process of protecting our water by decommissioning Line 5 immediately, before it ruptures. If they were really concerned about the U.P.’s propane supply, there would be a plan already in place in case Line 5 does rupture. The time for action is now.”

Oil & Water Don’t Mix recently released a Line 5 Decommission Plan, which can be found in full at www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/a_clear_plan_to_decommission_line_5 

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Oil & Water Don’t Mix is a broad campaign of organizations, citizens and businesses across Michigan who are working to keep oil out of our Great Lakes by shutting down the dangerous, 64-year-old Line 5 Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The campaign fights for clean water and air, Indigenous rights, reducing pollution, sustainable economies and protecting sporting, tourism and jobs that are dependent on our water and Pure Michigan way of life.

February 21, 2018

Midterm Scorecard: State Lawmakers Receive Disappointing Grades in 2017-2018 Legislative Session

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2018

Contact: Mike Berkowitz, (248) 345-9808, mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club: State Lawmakers Receive Disappointing Grades in 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Latest scorecard shows legislators continue to neglect Michigan’s environment and public health

LANSING - At a time when environmental leadership is more important than ever, the Michigan Senate received a failing grade on the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s 2017-2018 midterm legislative scorecard, while the Michigan House didn’t fare much better.

The midterm scorecard, which tracked environmental voting behavior of state House and Senate members during the 2017-2018 legislative session thus far, gave the Senate a failing score of 51 percent, while the House narrowly passed with a score of 67 percent.

The Scorecard showed that generally Democrats voted to maintain or strengthen environmental protections, while Republicans more often voted to weaken or eliminate environmental protections – actions that could have a devastating effect on Michigan’s economy. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continued to roll back federal regulations aimed at combating climate change and fighting pollution. All of this occurred at the same time that 2017 was recorded as the third hottest year on record.

“The 2017-2018 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.”

The Sierra Club’s Scorecard calculated the results based upon 11 votes in the House and 12 votes in Senate for the 2017-2018 Michigan state legislative session. According to the Scorecard, House Democrats scored an average of 91 percent, while House Republicans scored an average of 48 percent. Senate Democrats scored an near-perfect average of 98 percent, while Senate Republicans scored an average of 28 percent. Thirty-six lawmakers scored 100 percent, up from the 2015-2016 session when thirty-three 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 HERE.

“With little leadership coming from Washington, it’s vital that states take the lead in environmental protections,” Berkowitz said. “We hope that candidates running for office in 2018 and sitting lawmakers will see our scorecard and be motivated to get rid of this anti-environment attitude in the next legislative session.”

Sterling Heights state Sen. Tory Rocca (R-10) was the highest scoring Republican with a perfect 100 percent score. Two GOP representatives, Troy state Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-41) and Newaygo state Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-100), share the spot for second highest score among Republicans, both receiving a score of 73 percent. 35 Democratic Legislators scored 100 percent in 2017-2018, including 25 State Representatives and 10 State Senators (for full list, please look at our full scorecard). Representative Scott Dianda (D-110) was the lowest scoring House Democrat, receiving a 64 percent. Newly elected state Rep. Sara Cambensy received a score of 50 percent but it was based on a very small sample size including only 2 votes. The full scorecard with full descriptions of the bills is available here.

“This scorecard shows that 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 disheartening for people like me who care about protecting the environment while creating green jobs.”

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The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 130,000 members and supporters in Michigan.