January 29, 2020

State of the Great Lakes: Sierra Club encourages bold action from Governor Whitmer

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

State of the Great Lakes: Sierra Club encourages bold action from Governor Whitmer
Media Contact:   
Christy McGillivray: 808-726-5325, 

Sierra Club applauds Governor Whitmer’s efforts to hold polluters financially accountable for their toxic waste, remove PFAS from our drinking water, appoint an Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and elevate climate concerns across her administration. 

However, Sierra Club was disappointed that the Governor passed on the opportunity during her State of the State to urge action on the many pressing environmental issues plaguing our Great Lakes State. They look forward to working with her on her commitment to elevate climate change and water issues in the coming weeks. The 150,000 Sierra Club members and supporters in Michigan stand ready to partner with the governor and anyone else who prioritizes the health of our communities and protecting the Great Lakes.   

“We are pleased that the Governor has taken some concrete steps to restore Great Lakes protections,” said Christy McGillivray, Sierra Club Political and Legislative Director. “Our members--all Michiganders--want a governor who prioritizes the Great Lakes, and we look forward to seeing Gov. Whitmer establish herself as the Great Lakes protector that we know she plans to be.” 

McGillivray said one of the biggest environmental challenges Michigan faces is opposition from Republican leaders in Lansing. “Senator Shirkey and Representative Chatfield are stonewalling efforts to clean up our drinking water,” she said. “The financial backing their caucus receives from polluters stands in the way of any real movement to address chronic impairment of our air, water, and communities. Michiganders deserve better from state government.” 

The Governor’s State of the State address was mostly silent on the Great Lakes and climate change, with Whitmer promising action at some point in the near future. Justin Onwenu, Sierra Club's Environmental Justice Organizer based in Detroit, was hoping to hear more from the Governor’s State of the State on issues of climate justice: 

“The heavy public health burden placed on communities in Detroit, where Michigan’s only oil refinery operates, is one of the most visible impacts on pollution from oil, coal and other fossil fuels that impact vulnerable communities throughout Michigan,” said Onwenu. “It’s time for Governor Whitmer to use her executive authority to decommission Enbridge Line 5. Enbridge is responsible for the worst inland oil spill in our nation’s history, and they consistently shirk responsibility for their terrible safety record. Line 5 is a clear and present danger to environmental justice communities throughout the state, it poses an imminent threat to the Great Lakes and to the workers and communities in northern Michigan and the UP who depend on the Great Lakes for their jobs, their drinking water and their blue economy.” 

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

*Due to an extremely high volume of email--please text or call me at 808-726-5325 if you have not received a timely response. 

Christy McGillivray
Political and Legislative Director
Michigan Chapter
Cell: 808-726-5325
Facebook: @SierraClubMichigan
Twitter: @MichiganSierra
Instagram: @SierraClubMichigan