December 20, 2019

Sierra Club Condemns Donald Trumps Statements Regarding Late Congressman Dingell

Friday, December 20, 2019

Sierra Club Condemns Donald Trumps Statements Regarding Late Congressman Dingell

Media Contacts:   
Christy McGillivray: 808-726-5325 
Tim Minotas: 248-961-9610

“The Sierra Club condemns in the strongest possible terms Donald Trump’s statements regarding the late congressman, John Dingell. His statements were dishonorable and unbecoming of the President of the United States. Congressman Dingell was a veteran and proudly served Michiganders in Congress for over-half a century. Congressman Dingell left a remarkable legacy -- our air, land, water, and environmental protections are stronger thanks to him. The Sierra Club’s thoughts are with Congresswoman Dingell during this tough time. - Christy McGillivray, Legislative and Political Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 4 million members and supporters nationwide and over 150,000 in Michigan. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, 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

December 19, 2019

Reject DTE's Long-Term Energy Plan

Contact: Rachel Perkins, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606

Recommendation looms for DTE Energy plan that advocates and the public have called to reject

LANSING - Advocates from across Michigan have been calling on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE Energy’s long-term energy plan as the the case surrounding the plan comes to a close. On Friday, the judge overseeing the case will share her reading of the case and propose a recommendation to the Michigan Public Service Commission, which will give the final ruling early next year.

To date, more than 3,300 Michigan residents have submitted public comments and over 150 people attended the public hearing in June, the vast majority urging the Commission to reject DTE’s plan. Comments can be viewed on the MPSC website.

In addition, various health, environmental, conservation and clean energy advocates have also worked to raise awareness of the shortcomings of DTE’s plan and mobilized customers to make their voices heard. View the relevant blog posts, op-eds and other resources.

The following are statements from environmental, conservation, consumer and community organizations ahead of the MPSC’s decision:
“DTE gave solar and wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and demand response a passing nod, then went ahead and submitted a proposal dependent on dirty coal, outdated technology and old ways of thinking,” said Margrethe Kearney, Michigan Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Other utilities have plans that will send Michigan toward a clean energy future. DTE’s plan threatens to send us backward.”
“DTE’s long range energy plan was riddled with flaws and failed to fully embrace the promise of affordable, clean and renewable energy for Michigan’s residents,” said Charlotte Jameson, Program Director for Legislative Affairs and Energy Policy for Michigan Environmental Council. “The Commission should reject DTE’s IRP and ensure the company comes back to the table with a plan that doesn’t undersell energy waste reduction and renewable energy nor unnecessarily extend the life of expensive, polluting coal plants.” 

“In 2019, we experienced two climate disasters, the toxic release from Marathon during the polar vortex and the collapse of a uranium contaminated site due to rising lake levels. Michigan deserves a plan to ensure safe and healthy energy in an age of climate crisis and DTE failed to provide that,” said Michelle Martinez, statewide coordinator for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. “We need a bold energy plan not only for black and brown communities on the frontlines, but for all people struggling with rising rates and rising waters.”

“DTE’s energy plan will not lower our energy bills, because it does not do enough to boost clean and efficient energy, and it too slowly transitions away from big, expensive fossil fuel plants,” said Nick Occhipinti, government affairs director for Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “With the threat of climate change looming, it’s time for DTE to turn its words into action and commit to clean energy and energy efficiency instead of building new fossil fuel plants. DTE can do better.”

"Air pollution from coal-fired power plants places a disproportionate burden on our most vulnerable citizens: children, seniors and those with serious health conditions,” said Kindra Weid, RN and coalition coordinator of MI Air MI Health. “While DTE plans to reduce some of its coal-powered fleet in the coming years, a significant amount of its energy will continue coming from dirty coal through 2040. We find this unacceptable and encouraged the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE's IRP."

“DTE's long-term energy plan has faced months of input and opposition because it is a chance to redefine Michigan energy,” said Ariana Gonzalez, Senior Energy Policy Analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We cannot waste this opportunity to ensure Michigan's energy future is clean, affordable and reliable.”

“Instead of protecting clean water, clean air and our communities, DTE chooses to invest in their pocketbooks by doubling down on expensive, polluting fossil fuels," said Theresa Landrum, Detroit resident and activist with Sierra Club. “We call on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE's polluting energy plan. Alternatively, we ask the MPSC to require them to design a plan that protects Michiganders and those living in the most heavily impacted communities by investing in cheaper and cleaner renewable energy sources, efficiency programs, and storage technology.”

“DTE has offered Michigan residents a false choice in its integrated resource plan by portraying clean energy as inherently in conflict with affordability and reliability,” said James Gignac, Lead Midwest Energy Analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The purpose of the IRP process is to evaluate different alternatives, but DTE sidestepped that to the detriment of its customers, many of whom bear high energy burdens and face costly electricity bills. The Michigan Public Service Commission must ensure the company revises its plan to put cleaner, lower-cost energy sources at the forefront.”

“If DTE is allowed to move forward with this expensive, polluting plan, Michigan will continue to fall behind its neighbors like Minnesota,” said John Delurey, Midwest Director for Vote Solar. “At the end of the day, the costs of our continued dependence on fossil fuels — financial, health and otherwise — fall most heavily on Michigan's disadvantaged and low-income families. That’s not right. The MPSC has a duty to protect everyone from DTE’s reckless proposal.”


November 6, 2019

Sierra Club endorsed candidates make gains in local races

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Media Contacts:
Christy McGillivray: 808-726-5325 

Tim Minotas: 248-961-9610

Sierra Club endorsed candidates won big in last night’s elections across Michigan. The issues that drove voters to the polls in this off-year election included candidate commitments to renewable energy at the municipal level, safe affordable drinking water, environmentally sustainable development, and support for local recycling programs. Sierra Club is proud to support candidates that championed these issues.

Michael Fournier, the Sierra Club endorsed candidate for mayor of Royal Oak,​ sees his win as a mandate to push forward on sustainable development. Speaking with Sierra Club this morning Fournier said, “Environmental issues are top issues for our constituents in Royal Oak. We plan to be thoughtful leaders in proving that economic development and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive.”

The election results from last night show that candidate positions on environmental issues will also play a big role in the 2020 election. According to polling done this summer through the Yale project on climate communications, 65% of registered voters in Michigan are concerned about climate change, and 74% of voters are likely to support candidates who favor funding renewable energy. Sierra Club channels significant grassroots support to translate these polling results into election results, and last night’s wins show that we are making gains going into 2020.

Sierra Club endorsed candidate Wendy Pate, the highest vote getter across all candidates in Trenton, sees environmental issues at the heart of her campaign issues, “I campaigned for community benefit in development. The International Wildlife Refuge and the Detroit River anchor our community, and we deserve clean sustainable development that will drive Trenton forward.”

For a full list of Sierra Club endorsed candidates visit


The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters nationwide and over 150,000 in Michigan. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, 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

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

October 31, 2019

Court Ruling On Enbridge Line 5 Leaves Great Lakes At Risk

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Sean McBrearty, Campaign Coordinator, Oil & Water Don’t Mix

The Court of Claims ruling that Public Act 359 of 2018 establishing a tunnel authority is legal does not change the fact that Enbridge’s Line 5 pipelines continue to pose an unacceptable risk to the Great Lakes and Michigan’s economy.   

Given that the future of the Great Lakes is at stake immediate review and action by Governor Whitmer and her administration is required. Because the previous administration of former Gov. Snyer attempted to contract away the rule of law, a legal appeal of today’s ruling on the proposed tunnel deal for  Enbridge Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac by the Michigan Court of Claims is particularly critical and necessary. 

Today’s decision is disappointing because it momentarily allows the deal for a new tunnel in the Straits to make its way through the many authorizations and permits requires to be placed in the public trust soils under the Great Lakes.  The decision does nothing to address and protect the Great Lakes from these dangerous, corroding, dented 66-year-old pipelines.  Enbridge’s pipelines will continue transporting 23 million gallons of oil a day through the Straits, even as the most dangerous time of year approaches when gales and ice cover in the Straits makes oil spill response in the event of a Line 5 rupture or leak impossible. Enbridge would like everyone to think that a Straits oil tunnel is the solution to the problem of their dangerous pipelines.  But they have refused to even commit to constructing a tunnel or submit it for normal review under Michigan law and walked away from negotiations with the governor after she reasonably demanded that any tunnel must be constructed within two years.


August 22, 2019

Community and Environmental Organizations Push Michigan to Reject DTE’s Long-Term Energy Plan


Ivan Moreno, Natural Resources Defense Council,, 312-651-7932
Rachel Perkins, Byrum & Fisk Communications,, 517-333-1606
Paul Dailing, Environmental Law & Policy Center,, 312-795-3701
Abby Figueroa, Union of Concerned Scientists,, 510-809-1564
Renner Barsella, Sierra Club,, 217-390-9394

Community and Environmental Organizations Push Michigan to Reject DTE’s Long-Term Energy Plan

LANSING – Environmental and community organizations today are calling for Michigan’s Public Service Commission to reject the proposed long-term energy plan from DTE following testimony from experts revealing how DTE’s plan will hold back a transition to cleaner, more affordable energy. Experts ranging from energy economists, renewable experts, and health professionals submitted testimony detailing significant flaws in DTE’s proposal.

Advocates argue that the plan would unnecessarily increase costs, rely too heavily on fossil fuels that should be retired much earlier, increase racial and economic inequity, and not invest enough in the clean energy resources that customers are increasingly demanding. Environmental and community organizations also call for a more transparent, fair, and inclusive planning process that would hold the state’s utilities accountable to Michigan customers.

The full case filing including testimony can be found here:

The following are reactions from environmental, conservation and community organizations on DTE Energy’s proposed Integrated Resource Plan:    

“We need a plan that puts people first, with health, affordability and community power at the forefront,” said Jackson Koeppel, Executive Director of Soulardarity. “DTE’s proposal is a transparent attempt to push the cost of their bad investments and abysmally poor management onto the low-income communities and communities of color they have been dumping pollution and rate hikes on for their entire career. DTE is intentionally ignoring community solar and other local solutions because they care more about how much money their investors will make next quarter than the lives of the millions of people they claim to serve.”

“DTE’s plan is supposed to be a vision for powering homes and businesses across the state. Instead, it’s left Michigan’s environmental justice communities feeling stripped of power,” said Michelle Martinez, statewide coordinator for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. “If we want real climate justice, the process must change, must be inclusive, and must hold DTE accountable.”
"DTE’s IRP treats both carbon emissions and cost impacts on ratepayers as an afterthought, instead of a priority that needs to be addressed," said Alexis Blizman, Policy Director at the Ecology Center. "DTE must expand energy efficiency, as well as include greater investments in clean, renewable energy, like wind and solar, to protect ratepayers against both the harmful impacts of continuing the use of fossil fuels, as well as the price volatility of natural gas. The Commission should reject DTE's proposed IRP and send them back to create a plan that protects both people and planet.”
“DTE has an opportunity to embrace a clean energy future for Michigan, but by submitting a plan that fails to seriously look at solar and wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and demand response, it did not give itself that chance,” said Margrethe Kearney, a senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “This plan holds onto the old way of doing business, outdated strategies that don’t give DTE the flexibility to integrate clean, cost-effective renewables that benefit both Michigan’s economy and the environment.”
“DTE’s IRP is consistent with a century-old monopoly stuck in traditional solutions,” said John Richter, Policy Analyst at Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. “DTE has proposed utility-owned wind parks in just enough quantity to meet their legal obligations and the demands of their largest customers for green energy. While the GLREA welcomes the proposed renewable energy facilities, the assumptions formed in the overall plan are faulty and mired in the past. This plan needs substantial revision.”
“DTE’s current proposal to keep coal online for the next 20 years will have vast and far-reaching implications on the health, safety, and well-being of families across Michigan,” said Kindra Weid, RN and Coalition Coordinator of MI Air MI Health.
“Integrated resource plans are incredibly important for mapping out our energy future. It's critical that the plans the MPSC ultimately approves are based on sound analysis,” said Charlotte Jameson, energy policy and legislative affairs director of Michigan Environmental Council. “DTE submitted a plan riddled with flaws that bias the outcome away from clean, renewable energy. These errors are clear to see, especially when you compare their plan with the one Consumers Energy submitted. As intervenors charged with protecting Michigan’s environment and residential ratepayers, we will continue to weigh in on each step of this IRP process to make sure we get the best outcome for Michigan’s residents.”
"DTE’s long-range plan fails to rein in exploding electricity costs that are burdening families and businesses,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Michiganders are seeing the negative effects of climate change every day -- from flooded basements and farm fields to spreading algae in the Great Lakes and scorching droughts. It is time for DTE to move aggressively toward clean, renewable energy instead of delaying investments in solar and wind power and opening new, expensive gas plants."
“DTE’s plan yet again shortchanges their customers’ clean energy future in favor of more expensive fossil fuels,” said Ariana Gonzalez, senior energy policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They clearly ignored the massive tide of criticism from their last proposal that led to a billion-dollar gas plant. This is why we must set a precedent in this case to ensure clean, safe and affordable energy for all.”
"Instead of protecting clean water, clean air, and our communities, DTE chooses to invest in their pocketbooks by doubling down on expensive, polluting fossil fuels," said Theresa Landrum, Detroit resident and activist with Sierra Club. “We call on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE's polluting energy plan.  Alternatively, we ask the MPSC to require them to design a plan that protects Michiganders and those living in the most heavily impacted communities by investing in cheaper and cleaner renewable energy sources, efficiency programs, and storage technology.”
“DTE's plan to keep relying on coal plants for the next two decades fails to account for the health, climate, and financial impacts of burning coal,” said Shannon Fisk, Managing Attorney of Earthjustice’s Coal Program. “DTE overestimated the costs of replacing coal plants with renewables, storage, and efficiency because the company relied on flawed and outdated assumptions, instead of actual market data. Michiganders would benefit most, in terms of cost and health, from aggressive replacement of coal plants with cost-effective and reliable clean energy.
“DTE’s plan favors its own expensive power plants over a truly robust process to ensure cleaner and more affordable energy for Michigan customers. I’ve seen utility commissions reject resource plans for far less egregious missteps," said Joe Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “DTE overestimated the cost of renewables, underestimated the benefits of efficiency, all the while ignoring risks associated with the way it operates its existing fleet of coal-fired power plants. The Michigan Public Service Commission should send this plan back to the company and insist that DTE take seriously its obligation to fairly evaluate all resource options, especially earlier investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency."
"Solar and other clean energy options have quickly become some of America's lowest cost resources, and every Michigander should be able to benefit from these affordable, healthy, homegrown options. Instead, DTE is trying to double down on polluting gas and get away with offering only a very small utility-controlled green power program that will cost customers a premium when it should be delivering savings," said Will Kenworthy, Midwest Regulatory Director with Vote Solar. "This expensive plan will put solar out of reach for many low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes, environmental justice communities and others who shouldn't be shut out from the clean economy, which is why we're joining together with allies today to urge a stronger, healthier and more resilient path forward for DTE."

July 23, 2019

Sierra Club Responds to Today’s Line 5 Enbridge Lawsuit

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Media Contact:   Anne Woiwode (517)-974-2112
Sierra Club Responds to Today’s Line 5 Enbridge Lawsuit

LANSING, MI--In response to a lawsuit filed today against Enbridge in Wisconsin, Sierra Club said the potential court-ordered shutdown of Line 5 there means any negotiations for an Enbridge Line 5 oil tunnel in Michigan would only end up increasing the risk of a pipeline rupture in the Great Lakes.   

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa filed suit against Enbridge to force the decommissioning and removal of the Line 5 pipeline from the tribe’s reservation.  The action followed two years of failed mediation talks between the tribe and Enbridge and six years of Enbridge’s unauthorized operation of Line 5 following the expiration of its easement agreement the Bad River Band.

“The takeaway from today’s development should be for Governor Gretchen Whitmer to immediately drop any thought of a proposed oil tunnel or other action focused on keeping Line 5 operating in the Great Lakes and as a risk to Michigan,” said Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair.  “Delay is not our friend and the oil tunnel is not a solution to protecting the Great Lakes and other Michigan waterways from a Line 5 spill.”

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in Wisconsin runs across 12 miles of sensitive habitat in the Bad River Reservation.  Enbridge has continued to operate the pipeline for six years since easements allowing it to maintain the Reservation right-of-way expired in 2013, and today’s action seeks to bring the company’s unauthorized presence to an end.

“We have seen in Wisconsin how Enbridge has dragged out a lengthy process that left the Bad River watershed at extreme risk from an aged Line 5 pipeline.  With so much at stake, Michigan can’t chase Enbridge’s oil tunnel vision because there is no end in sight that protects the Great Lakes, “ said Woiwode. “This only reinforces the need for support of Attorney General Dana Nessel’s legal action to begin the process of decommissioning Line 5 in Michigan.”


The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, 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

Anne Woiwode, chair 
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
Conservation Policy Committee

July 15, 2019

Open Letter to Oakland Co Commissioner Nash on Lead and Copper Rule


July 10th, 2019

Dear Commissioner Nash:

We appreciate our long working relationship with you as a former volunteer leader with the Sierra Club, and your work to protect water quality in Oakland County. Your work to stop sewage overflows and address nonpoint source pollution is important and aligns with the Sierra Club’s goals for protecting water quality.

However, your current position on the Michigan Lead and Copper Rule is at odds with ours. We are writing to clarify the Sierra Club’s position on the Michigan Lead and Copper Rule (MLCR). Sierra Club supports the MLCR as proposed. The reformed MLCR outlaws partial lead service line replacements and requires the state’s utilities to eventually replace all the lead and copper service lines in Michigan. Public education and notification requirements were also included in the reformed MLCR. All of these measures have the support of Sierra Club, and we are working hard to assure that these are implemented statewide.

Michigan is leading the nation as the first state to mandate the removal of all lead and copper service lines, ban the partial replacement of lead service lines (with an exception for extreme circumstances), and require water utilities to pay for the entire lead service line replacement. As you know, Sierra Club joined with many other organizations in seeking to assist the people of Flint after the disastrous poisoning of hundreds of thousands of people because of the disturbing policies of the Snyder administration. The measures in the MLCR cannot make up for the damage done to the residents of Flint, but they are an important step towards addressing the racially charged injustices that lead to the poisoning of a city.

In this important regard, the MLCR aligns with the Sierra Club’s position on environmental justice. Children and those living in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and aging infrastructure face the greatest risk, and their health and safety must not be compromised by weakening the MLCR. Residents of communities with aging infrastructure are disproportionately people of color and/or low-income, magnifying the importance of environmental justice concerns and accessible public notification/education materials. The MLCR works to address these inequalities.

There is no safe amount of lead in drinking water, and due to the life-long effects of lead poisoning, support of the MLCR is particularly important to Sierra Club members. Michigan can never again allow its children and citizens to be poisoned by drinking lead contaminated water, and the Sierra Club backs the revised MLCR’s mandate to get the lead service lines out of the ground.Sierra Club asks that instead of litigating against the MLCR that you join us in supporting the MLCR and implementing it. Furthermore we ask you to join us in advocating for federal and state funding to assist with the implementation of the MLCR for any communities that cannot bear the cost of lead service line replacement. If you have any questions or need additional information please feel free to contact us.


Gail Philbin, Michigan Chapter Director 

Anne Woiwode, Michigan Chapter Chair

109 E. Cesar Chavez Ave. (formerly Grand River) • Lansing, Michigan 48906 • (517) 484-2372

June 5, 2019

PRESS RELEASE: NTSB Line 5 Anchor Strike Report Released Amid Calls for Immediate Action by Governor, Attorney General

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Media Contact:  David Holtz 313-300-4454/
NTSB Line 5 Anchor Strike Report
Released Amid Calls for Immediate
Action by Governor, Attorney General
Citizens groups today called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel to take immediate steps to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac in the wake of shocking details contained in a newly released National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigative report into a near-disastrous 2018 anchor strike.
The May 31 NTSB report, carried Tuesday in the trade publication Maritime Executive, blames a series of crew errors and defective equipment aboard the Erie Trader for causing the damaging anchor strikes as the tug and barge navigated up to 8-foot seas and 30-knot winds through the icy Straits.  It wasn’t until more than a day after the April 1 anchor strike—when the Erie Trader approached its Indiana destination after sailing from the Straits through Lake Michigan that the ship’s captain noticed they had been dragging anchor.
“This report shows there is no regulation or law short of eliminating the pipeline that Michigan can pass to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic Line 5 pipeline rupture ,” said David Holtz, Oil & Water Don’t Mix spokesperson.  “Michigan must act on this new evidence.  Only shutting Line 5 down can prevent an oil pipeline rupture and it is urgent that the governor and attorney general immediately use their authority to protect Michigan and the Great Lakes.”

Under an agreement with the State of Michigan, Enbridge is required to shut down Line 5 oil transport during certain dangerous conditions, but didn’t do so until several days after the anchor strike was first discovered.  In the aftermath of the anchor strike, Michigan also banned anchor deployment in the Straits, but as the NTSB report indicated there were already anchor restrictions in place when the Erie Trader sailed through the turbulent Straits, unknowingly dragging 540 feet of heavy chain and one of its two anchors behind it.
“Passing anchor bans and signing swiss cheese agreements with Enbridge are simply rearranging deck chairs on this Titanic disaster in the waiting,”  said Holtz. “You cannot read the NTSB report and conclude anything other than an immediate and permanent shut down of Line 5 is the appropriate and necessary action to take.  Every day that pipeline sits in the Straits is a day closer to disaster.”

The day of the anchor incident, most of the ship’s crew was off in observance of Easter Sunday while the captain was unaware that his ship was dragging a six-ton anchor across the lakebed, rupturing electrical pipelines and damaging Enbridge’s 66-year-old oil pipelines, according to NTSB investigators.
Other findings in the report, include:
  • The Erie Trader had two anchors, port and starboard, but the crew only checked that the port anchor was secure after mooring overnight near the Soo Locks and departing the next day on Easter Sunday for the Mackinac Straits.   A crew member, according to the report, indicated that the anchors were secure but actually failed to check the starboard anchor, which was recently repaired but had been previously out of service since 2017.

  • Meanwhile, it appears the starboard anchor remained deployed as the Erie Trader headed to the open water behind a Coast Guard ice breaker amid heavy winds and seas. Those strong winds, high waves and noise from breaking ice may have masked the sound of the anchor chain and ship’s anchor dragging, according to the report.  The report concludes that the weight of the nearly 18,000-pound anchor chain and six-ton anchor dragging through turbulent waters likely overwhelmed anchor braking and safety devices. The NTSB report also found that the starboard anchor brakes, which had been recently repaired, were not properly adjusted.

  • The American Transmission Corporation, owner of the electrical lines in the Straits, first discovered a problem with the lines at 5:31pm on April 1 but it took two more days to notify the Coast Guard. It took Enbridge two weeks to visually inspect the pipeline and initially they claimed Line 5 hadn't been struck by the anchor.

Gov. Whitmer is currently negotiating a potential oil tunnel in the Straits but is concerned that construction will take many years leaving the oil pipelines there a continuing risk. The State of Michigan has approved permits for installation on 201 anchor screw supports on the twin pipelines in the Straits which are screwed into the lakebed and hold the pipeline 2 to 4 feet off the bottom, raising concerns that an anchor fluke could easily snag the now elevated pipeline.  
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 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.  Learn more at
Oil & Water Don’t Mix Steering Committee
Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, Clean Water Action, For Love of Water, Food & Water Watch, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, League of Women Voters of Michigan, Michigan Environmental Council, Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, Sierra Club, Straits of Mackinac Alliance, Straits Area Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment, Sunrise Movement, TC350

April 18, 2019

Tell Gov. Whitmer: Don't Negotiate on Line 5 Tunnel!


Gov. Whitmer and Enbridge are reportedly planning to discuss the future of Line 5, and possibly speed up the building of a new oil tunnel.  Protection of the Great Lakes is not negotiable and we are counting on Gov. Whitmer to protect the Great Lakes.  If discussions go forward we strongly urge the governor to reverse the pattern of backroom, sweetheart deals.  Governor Whitmer must focus her efforts on a transparent process that will lead to decommissioning Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac

An oil tunnel to carry Enbridge’s Canadian oil is not a good solution for Michigan
A tunnel would leave at risk of an oil spill along 400 inland waters and dozens of  miles of Lake Michigan shoreline along which Line 5 runs in Michigan. Moreover, leading scientists have warned that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must rapidly move off of fossil fuels. 

Allowing Enbridge to build a tunnel and extend the life of Line 5 even more is the very opposite of what our state should be doing on climate. There are alternatives to Line 5 that do not require building a new oil pipeline, and independent studies commissioned by the State have confirmed these are viable options that would better protect Michigan’s waters and climate. 

Please contact Governor Whitmer TODAY and let her know:

Twitter: @GovWhitmer
US Mail: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, Michigan 48909

March 22, 2019

Michigan Environmental and Social Justice Groups Call for a Ban on Industrial Agriculture Polluting Practices

For Immediate Release — March 20, 2019 
Contact: Rebecca Wolf, 202-683-2507,
                Mike Berkowitz, 517-999-1305,

The Great Farms Great Lakes Coalition, including Public Justice, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Food & Water Watch, laud proposed legislation to protect the state’s drinking water, sustainable family farms, and rural communities.
Lansing — State legislators introduced a bill today that would ban disposing of manure, fertilizer, and waste from livestock operations on frozen or snow-covered soil. Senator Rosemary Bayer and Representative Kevin Hertel introduced the bill — Senate Bill 247and House Bill 4418 — which would protect valuable state water resources from contamination. 

Michigan has close to 300 industrial-scale livestock facilities which, depending on the species, can house up to millions of animals that produce enormous amounts of waste — a toxic slurry of manure, chemicals, pathogens and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. The nitrogen and phosphorus — especially from large-scale dairy operations — feed algae blooms like the one that poisoned drinking water for Toledo and southern Michigan in 2014. This toxic manure runs into the sources of drinking water.  

"There are a lot of threats to water quality in Michigan and the solutions aren't always obvious, but in the case of harmful algae blooms, we know one thing we can do immediately to address the problem," said Gail Philbin, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter director. "A total ban on the practice of applying waste to frozen or snow-covered ground, with no exceptions, will stem a significant source of nutrients that feed the algae blooms that compromise water quality in Michigan every year." 

“Michiganders understand that applying manure to frozen or snow-covered ground is a bad way to treat your neighbors,” said Jessica Culpepper of Public Justice. “Factory farms do it to make an extra buck at the expense of the state’s waterways, and the safety of its people. With the introduction of this bill, the people’s representatives have an opportunity to ensure corporations operating in Michigan are responsible to those who use its waters.”

“Enough is enough,” said Rebecca Wolf of Food & Water Watch. “Allowing factory farms to dump manure on frozen ground where it almost immediately makes its way into rivers, streams and lakes is a ridiculous giveaway to this polluting industry – at the expense of our drinking water. It’s time for Michigan legislators to take a stand and protect the people of Michigan, the Great Lakes, and drinking water from the toxic pollution generated by factory farms.”

On April 17th, members from groups across Michigan will gather at the State Capitol to pressure legislators to take bold action on agricultural pollution by passing this legislation.


March 6, 2019

Expansion of Barry County Industrial Dairy with Violations History Goes Unchallenged by MDEQ

State agency won’t act on community concerns about facility adding 900 animals and generating 5,402,597 additional gallons of manure

March 6, 2019
Media Contact:, 616-805-3063 

Lansing, MI—The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has allowed an industrial dairy operation in Barry County to expand by 40% despite an illegal discharge of waste into West Gilkey Lake in 2015 that led to a fine and consent order. More than four dozen comments were submitted to the MDEQ last fall objecting to the proposed addition of 900 dairy cows by Prairie View Dairy LLC, a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Prairieville Township. In addition to past environmental violations, comments cited many other concerns, including:
  • Significant risk to Crooked Lake and other waters based on  CAFO’s large storage volumes, minimal buffering area, and close vicinity to lakes and wetlands of high value for habitat and fishing
  • Potential for high nitrate levels in drinking water wells
  • Limited fields available to spread waste
  • Need for increased monitoring to ensure Prairie View's waste management practices do not threaten surrounding lakes and land.
Despite the community’s concerns, in MDEQ’s Responsiveness Summary issued four months after the close of comments, the agency claimed it did not consider such a massive expansion and increase in the production of untreated livestock wastes by almost 5.5 million gallons per year to be significant enough to warrant reconsideration of the facility’s permit conditions. Prairie View is covered under a Michigan General CAFO National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit instead of an individual permit, which could include stricter requirements for monitoring, reporting and design of the facility.

“Gov. Snyder may be gone, but the legacy of his MDEQ and its approach to favoring polluters lives on,” said Gail Philbin, director of Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter. “You see it in Michigan’s struggling rural communities and compromised waterways, which are substantially less protected from the public health threat of hundreds of polluting factory farms that operate with impunity across the state.”

The increase at Prairie View means it will generate 27,610,432 gallons of waste per year, an annual increase of 5,402,597 gallons in a lake-filled region of the state already saturated with CAFOs and animal waste.  Across Michigan, animal waste from nearly 300 CAFOs frequently makes its way into waterways, leading to a host of environmental and health problems. 

Manure feeds the algae blooms that plague our inland waters and was a key factor in the growth of the toxic algae that poisoned drinking water for Toledo and southern Michigan in 2014. Water and soil pollution can occur at any point in a dairy operation, including from over-application of waste to fields of manure slurry containing untreated feces, urine, disease-causing bacteria, anti-biotics, and hazardous chemicals such as ammonia and methane. 

Sierra Club has been at the forefront of battling CAFO pollution in Michigan for nearly three decades. To learn more, visit

For more information about CAFOs and what you can do to fight back, email