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/david@davidholtz.org
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 www.oilandwaterdontmix.org.
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:

Phone: https://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/call_whitmer_no_tunnel
Online: https://somgovweb.state.mi.us/GovRelations/ShareOpinion.aspx 
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, rwolf@fwwatch.org
                Mike Berkowitz, 517-999-1305, mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org

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: gail.philbin@sierraclub.org, 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 sierraclub.org/michigan/why-are-cafos-bad

For more information about CAFOs and what you can do to fight back, email gail.philbin@sierraclub.org

February 7, 2019

FLOW, Bay Mills Tribe, and Oil & Water Don't Mix Ask: Are Michigan’s Residents, Communities, and Businesses Insured if Line 5 Fails in the Straits?


February 7, 2019
Skip Pruss, Board Chair, FLOW (For Love of Water), (517) 930-4426, pruss@5lakesenergy.com 
Bryan Newland, Tribal Chairman, Bay Mills Indian Community, (906) 248-8100, bnewland@baymills.org 
David Holtz, Communications Coordinator, Oil & Water Don’t Mix, (313) 300-4454, david@davidholtz.org 

FLOW, Bay Mills Tribe, and O&WDM Ask: Are Michigan’s Residents, Communities, and Businesses Insured if Line 5 Fails in the Straits?
Investigation Reveals Critical Omissions and Finds Pipeline Might be Uninsurable
Traverse City, Mich. – If the 66-year-old Enbridge Line 5 pipelines fail in the Straits of Mackinac, residents, coastal communities, businesses, and the State of Michigan could be left with lasting environmental and economic damage and little or no hope for insurance coverage from pipeline-owner Enbridge for the oil spill, according to environmental and tribal organizations in a teleconference held today.
Michigan citizens may believe they are protected, at least at some level, by the insurance Enbridge should be required to have in place to pay the costs of cleaning up an oil spill disaster in the Straits, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. 
A new FLOW investigation has revealed potential holes in Michigan’s financial protections against a Line 5 pipeline rupture into the Great Lakes. The potential shortcomings could prove ruinous to communities, residents, and businesses that suffer losses at the hands of a Line 5 oil spill in the Straits. The problems can be traced to last year when environmental regulators were largely sidelined by the Snyder administration, which negotiated four Line 5 agreements directly with Line 5-owner Enbridge from the executive offices of the governor. (See FLOW’s article about the investigation here.)

“The findings of our study suggest that Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits may never have been adequately insured and – given their age, location, and impaired condition – might be uninsurable,” said Skip Pruss, chairman of FLOW’s board of directors and an energy policy expert. “In its haste to sign agreements with Enbridge, the state during the end of the Snyder administration failed to conduct a study that would evaluate the financial capacity of Enbridge to address a worst-case scenario for damages and claims that may result from an existing Line 5 failure.”

The new revelations come as Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order and new directives aimed at strengthening the state’s regulatory and administrative oversight capabilities for the Great Lakes, although Republican legislators are seeking to overturn the governor’s order in favor of delegating oversight in part to the businesses being regulated by the state.  

“While no amount of money can restore an oil-damaged fishery, the freshwater of the Great Lakes, or our cultural heritage, it simply is a dereliction of duty for the Snyder administration to not ensure that Enbridge has insurance that specifically covers oil spill damage and those tribes, communities, families, and businesses that would be harmed for generations to come,” said Bryan Newland, Tribal Chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community.
A preliminary review raises many questions regarding the adequacy of Enbridge’s financial assurances that are supposed to mitigate the economic harm if Line 5 fails. Findings include that Enbridge’s:
·         General Liability insurance may not cover oil spill clean-up costs, natural resources damages and claims by injured third-parties.
·         Financial assurances are capped at $1.878 billion dollars, far less that the $6.3 billion estimate of worst-case damages determined by a study by Michigan State University, and a potential $45 billion loss to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in after just 15 days from disrupting Great Lakes commercial shipping and steel production.
·         Enbridge Inc., the parent company, is not a signatory to the agreement relating to financial assurances; instead three Enbridge subsidiaries signed the agreement.  It is unknown whether these subsidiaries are insured.
·         The State of Michigan may not be named as an “additional insured” on the insurance policies.  If not, then the State of Michigan would have no direct right of recovery against an insurer. 
Based upon the preliminary review of the financial assurances intended to mitigate the present economic risks posed by a Line 5 failure and the ensuing questions and issues that have been identified by FLOW and independent insurance experts, the State of Michigan should:
·         Retain qualified experts to determine the adequacy of Enbridge’s financial assurances and to make appropriate recommendations regarding mitigating the magnitude of the financial risks posed by Line 5;
·         Determine to what extent the State of Michigan is bound by the indefinite and inadequate terms and provisions of the “Second Agreement;” 
·         Require Enbridge, Inc., to name the State of Michigan as an “additional insured” and/or “named insured” on its insurance coverage for Line 5; and
·         Seek the termination of operation of Line 5 until all financial assurance deficiencies are fully cured and satisfied.
“We are calling on the Whitmer Administration to investigate the apparent lack of insurance for an Enbridge Line 5 oil spill in the Straits and address the damage done by Snyder and lame-duck lawmakers before they rushed out the exit doors at the close of 2018, said David Holtz, Communications Coordinator, Oil & Water Don’t Mix. “It’s past time to shut down Line 5 before its delivers a direct hit to the very heart of the Great Lakes and the Pure Michigan economy.”
About FLOW and Oil & Water Don’t Mix: FLOW is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Traverse City, Michigan, working to protect the common waters of the Great Lakes Basin through public trust solutions. FLOW is a leading legal and scientific voice, and a founding steering committee member of the broad-based, multi-year Oil & Water Don’t Mix (O&WDM) campaign dedicated to preventing a catastrophic oil spill from the decaying Line 5 pipelines that push 6 billion gallons of oil a year through the open waters of the Straits of Mackinac – the very heart of the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.FLOWforWater.org and www.OilandWaterDontMix.org.

February 4, 2019

NEWS RELEASE: Clean air advocates applaud creation of Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

Monday, Feb. 4, 2019

Contact: Nick Dodge, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606

Clean air advocates applaud creation of Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

LANSING – Clean air and water advocates across the state today applauded Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for announcing the Department of Environmental Quality will be reorganized and replaced by a new Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy [more details here].  Gov. Whitmer also announced Michigan will join the U.S. Climate Alliance to combat the impacts of climate change to Michigan communities, our air, Great Lakes and natural resources.

“Gov. Whitmer’s action sets a clear tone for how her administration is going to tackle climate change, protect the Great Lakes and our communities. We applaud Gov. Whitmer for taking a strong stance on climate change and fighting for our air, land, water and public health,” said Mike Berkowitz, legislative and political director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

"With the alarming recent climate reports from the world's top scientists and the rollbacks of our clean air and water protections at the federal level, urgent action on climate change is more important than ever. Today’s announcement shows that Michigan takes climate change seriously and aims to be a leader in promoting clean energy and fighting climate change," said Kate Madigan, director of the Michigan Climate Action Network

“Gov. Whitmer’s announcement is a step in the right direction toward reducing dangerous pollution in our Great Lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water and speeding up Michigan’s transition to clean, renewable energy. As the Great Lakes state, Michigan should be leading the way on combating climate change, and we applaud Gov. Whitmer for pushing our state to do better,” said Mary Brady-Enerson, Michigan director for Clean Water Action.

"The impacts of climate change are already hurting our families, industries, and natural resources across the state. More extreme weather like the recent life-threatening cold across the Midwest or Michigan’s historic flood of 2014 will only become more frequent,” said Ariana Gonzalez, senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “With this announcement, Governor Whitmer and her administration are saying that we refuse to sit by idly as our health and economy are put at risk.”


January 31, 2019

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Awards Honor Those Who Make a Difference Every Day

For Immediate Release
January 28, 2019

Contact: Gail Philbin, Director at 312-493-2384
Anne Woiwode, Chair at 517-974-2112

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Awards Honor Those Who Make a Difference Every Day

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Awards presented January 26 in Lansing recognize the extraordinary contributions of Michiganders and Michigan organizations who are making valuable contributions to protection of public health, natural resources and democracy. The Chapter is honored to acknowledge the following awardees:

State Senator Stephanie Chang of Detroit received the highest honor the Michigan Chapter bestows, the Jane Elder Environmentalist of the Year Award. The award honors exceptional leadership in environmental protection in Michigan. Sen. Chang maintained a perfect rating on the Chapter’s environmental voting scorecard during her tenure as a State Representative. She has worked with Sierra Club to introduce legislation to protect against toxic air pollution, make water a human right, expand clean energy, and restore citizen oversight to the Department of Environmental Quality.

Bridge Magazine was awarded the Environmental Journalism Award. The mission of the online Bridge Magazine is “to inform Michigan citizens through fact-based, nonpartisan journalism that identifies critical issues.” Bridge CEO John Bebow led the effort by his publication to elevate the role of reporting on environmental issues in Michigan by hiring Jim Malewitz as their full time environmental reporter in 2017. Jim’s reporting has catalyzed a growing interest in other media outlets to increase environmental reporting. Bridge has also become a critical, “go to” investigative journalism forum, helping to promote transparency in government through its “Truth Squad” reporting on candidates and in-depth articles on Michigan democracy issues. bridgemi.com

Mona Munroe-Younis of Flint was awarded the Bunyan Bryant Award for environmental justice work. Mona helped establish the Michigan Chapter’s Environmental Justice Action Group in 2017, which quickly developed into a cohesive, democratically organized alliance of residents on the frontlines fighting environmental injustice in the Flint/Detroit region. Learn more at

Change Media was recognized with the Ed Steinman Michigan Chapter’s Digital Excellence Award. Change Media is a Michigan firm that has created sophisticated social media campaigns that help the Chapter target supporters and environmentalists on Facebook in past elections and built our social media presence.  Their efforts include the Chapter’s groundbreaking political ad and video program in 2016 and our work to support Gretchen Whitmer’s campaign and other endorsed candidates in 2018. https://changemediagroup.com

Mining Action Group received the White Pine Award for extraordinary dedication to environmental protection. This Upper Peninsula-based volunteer group plays the leading role in reviewing and challenging mine expansions and new proposals such as the expansion of the Eagle Mine near Marquette and the final permitting of the Back Forty mine in Menominee County. https://savethewildup.org

Pegg Clevenger of Jackson was honored with the Sylvania Award for her exceptional leadership as a new Michigan Chapter volunteer. Pegg quickly emerged as a leader and budding expert on factory farms when she and others in Jackson learned about a proposal for a massive hog factory in their area in 2017. Pegg led the effort to mobilize the community and get the facility’s state permit modified to lessen the impact on a nearby wetland.

As the new chair of the Southwest Michigan Group, Roz Linsea, was recognized with a Michigan Chapter Service Award. Roz has built a strong regional Sierra Club group that educates and engages local residents about important environmental issues. She is a big solar energy booster in West Michigan as a partner in Solar Winds Power Systems, LLC., the business she runs with her husband Mike, that participates in the Sierra Club Solar Partnership. sierraclub.org/michigan/sierra-club-solar-partnership.

Mary Andersson was recognized with the Marlene Fluharty Award for her volunteer leadership at multiple levels of the Sierra Club. She’s a longtime member and volunteer who has held numerous positions including Outings Chair, Political Chair and Executive Committee representative for the Crossroads Group. She has served as a Chapter Political Committee member and has attended service outings at the group and national level.

Chris Back has been awarded the Trillium Award for outstanding student contributions. Chris began as a Sierra Club political intern on Gretchen Driskell’s campaign in 2016 and has served as the Chapter’s communications intern since January 2017. He has been an active Spartan Sierra Club member since 2016 and was just elected to the Michigan Chapter Executive Committee.

David Holtz was honored with the Theodore Roosevelt Political Leadership award. For more than five years David has served on the Chapter’s Political Committee, which has benefited from his decades of experience in the political and communications arenas. He has elevated democracy-related issues within the Chapter’s strategic priorities and in 2018 coordinated the Sierra Club’s work with the Gretchen Whitmer gubernatorial campaign.

Richard Morley Barron received the Chair's Award for his exceptional leadership of the Michigan Chapter Political Committee for eight years. During his tenure as PolCom chair, Richard, in collaboration with Political Director Mike Berkowitz, led the dramatic expansion of Sierra Club's political engagement in Michigan. Richard continues to serve on the Political Committee as well as the Michigan Chapter Executive Committee, and has served as the Michigan Chapter Legal Committee Chair. 


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 120,000 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/michigan.