Sunday, May 17, 2015

Michigan Chapter Update - May 17, 2015

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Michigan Chapter Update
May 17, 2015

In this Issue:

  • Tell Your Legislators to Say NO to Pipeline Secrecy!
  • Pipe Up! Pipe Out! Shut Down Line 5: A Great Lakes Call to Action May 26th
  • Air Quality in W. Michigan: How Does It Affect You? June 4th in Grand Haven
  • Annual Retreat is August 21st to 23rd: Registration is Open!
  • Eighty Turn Out for Citizen Lobby Day
  • Michigan Chapter Political Committee Fundraiser A Great Success!
  • Speaking Truth to Power... Companies
  • Explore and Enjoy! Thompson's Harbor State Park

    Tell Your Legislators to Say NO to Pipeline Secrecy!

    Enbridge Line 6B Construction, photo by Ron Kardos
    HB 4540 could mean state agencies would be barred from
    telling you safety and health information about pipelines -
    EVEN when they cross your front yard. (photo by Ron Kardos) 
    Take action now to stop the Pipeline Secrecy bill proposed in the Michigan House!
    Dangerous legislation under consideration now would permanently block public access to oil pipeline and other  energy system safety records held by state agencies in Michigan. On May 14th, the House Oversight and Ethics Committeeheld a hearing on HB 4540sponsored by Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth). HB 4540 wuld amend Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act to exempt information about so-called "critical energy infrastructure" from public access. Exemptions in this bill would include high-risk pipelines like the one running throughthe Straits of Mackinac operated by the controversial Canadian oil conglomerateEnbridge, Inc., as well as information about oil refineries, electric power plants, and transmission lines.
    What effect could the Pipeline Secrecy Bill have on you, your neighbors and community?  Here are some examples:
    • Community groups, local governments and environmental advocatesincluding Sierra Club members depend on access to information held by our state level agencies to understand and explain the potential environmental, health and safety threats of proposed or existing energy infrastructure in our state. That information could be put off limits. 
    • Greater transparency could have helped emergency personnel in the City of Marshall understand and respond much more quickly to the disastrous Enbridge oil spill in 2010
    • As Enbridge disrupted thousands of home owners rebuilding Line 6B in the past few years, if this proposal had been law not only would these property owners have been forced to live with the massive digging and burying of new pipes, they might have to go to court just to find out about what substance was being put across their property.
    • When the Marathon oil refinery in Detroit has a fire or explosions, the citizens there should be able to find out what has happened from their state government, not be at the mercy of the company to decide whether to tell them anything.  
    • And when it comes to the threats posed by polluting power plants, state officials should be required to make that information available, instead of telling taxpayers they aren't allowed to know what threats there are to their safety and health
    With your help, we can stop this legislation! Visit this link to tell your representatives to protect the safety of their constituents and the environment!

    Pipe Up! Pipe Out! Shut Down Line 5: A Great Lakes Call to Action May 26th

    Pipe Up! Pipe Out! Shut Down Line 5!
    Join Us! May 26th, Mackinaw City Artwork courtesy of Food & Water Watch
    Join Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club and citizens from across the state on May 26th in Mackinaw City at 2 p.m. in Conkling Park to send a strong message to Michigan’s leaders gathering on Mackinac Island for a two-day conference. Enbridge's twin oil pipelinesconstructed during the Eisenhower Era—threaten the Great Lakes at the Straits.
    As 1,700 business, community, and political leaders gather for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, we will be sending a clear and strong message to Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette: Shut Down Line 5 through the Straits.

    TAR SANDS RESISTANCE MARCH June 6th - St. Paul, MNMichigan is just one of the Great Lakes
    states facing tar sands and crude oilpipelines. Join Sierra Club at this historic march on June 6th!
    Click here for details 
    A pipeline disaster at the Straits has been cited as the"worst place possible" for an oilspill. When another Enbridge pipeline ruptured in 2010, it spilled about one million gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River. It was the largest land-based oil spill in U.S. history, and is still being cleaned up. Who could imagine we would allow pipelines to be installed in the heart of two Great Lakes today? We need bold steps to protect our Great Lakes.
    Help us send a message to the governor and attorney general while they are on Mackinac Island with other Michigan leaders. If you think you may be able to attend the May 26 call to action or have questions please contact David Holtz at

    Air Quality in West Michigan: How Does It Affect You?

    Air Pollution Affects Our West Michigan Quality of Life
    On June 4th, groups around Western Michigan will join together in Grand Haven to rally around improving air quality standards. The event will be held at the Loutit Library in Grand Haven, 407 Columbus Ave, between N 4th & N 5th Streets, at 6:30 p.m. starting with booths, demonstrations and exhibits. Bike tune ups will be offered for those arriving on their bikes!
    At 7:00 p.m. the forum will start, with local & statewide activists and experts including:
    • Michigan Department of Community Health Asthma Network
    • Michigan Air/Michigan Health
    • Local students who have recently done air quality testing led by Holland League of Women Voters Representative Don Triezenberg
    • Eric Nordman, GVSU Professor of Sustainability  
    • Chuck Tawney, the West Michigan Jobs Group
    The event will be followed by a Q & A for the audience. Join us to engage in important discussions about clean and healthy air for our communities! For more information, contact John at 616-844-8721 or or Jan at 616-956-6646 or

    Sign Up Now for the Michigan Chapter Retreat, August 21st - 23rd 

    Come Join Us at the Annual Retreat August 21st to 23rd!
    Summer in Michigan means beaches and camping. The Michigan Chapter Annual Retreat brings together people of all ages who are eager to enjoy and explore the beautiful outdoors with recreational events and environmental education. This year’s Retreat will take place from August 21-23rd Camp Miniwanca, located north of Muskegon on Lake Michigan.
    Join us for hiking, swimming and campfires in addition to educational events about conservation issues concerning health and the environment. Saturday night includes our awards ceremony and a keynote speaker, as well as our famoussilent and live auction. Everyone is welcome to donate special treasures, as well as bid on new findings during the auction. In addition, a separate kids auctionwelcomes children to bring crafts or past treasures stored in their rooms! Proceeds from the auction keep the price of the Retreat down.
    The retreat fee covers two nights of lodging, five meals, activities and speakers. Please visit the Chapter Retreat website and registration page or contact Cecilia Garcia at / (517)-484-2372 for more information. We look forward to bringing together new and experienced retreat campers for a great weekend in August!

    Citizen Lobby Day May 6th

    Citizen Lobby Day Participants
    80 Sierra Club volunteers gathered in Lansing from all over the state for our Spring Citizen Lobby Day! These volunteers visited every State Representative and Senator to educate them about Fracking and Clean Energy. If you weren’t able to attend Lobby Day, but would like to get involved, go here to see how you can help and to sign up!  
    Rep. Greimel & Rep. Howrylak at SCMC Political Com fundr

    Political Committee Fundraiser a Success!

    Our Political Committee's first fundraiser of the year was a roaring success! Former Sierra Club Political Directors spoke to more than 80 people at the event and we beat our fundraising goal!
    Pictured here is House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (left side) chatting with Republican State Representative Martin Howrylak (right) and Rep Howrylak's staff member at the event, showing our commitment to finding bipartisan solutions in the legislature.
    Many thanks to all who were able to attend, and to our terrific speakers, Gayle Miller and Dan Farough.
    If you didn’t get a chance to attend but want to help elect environmental champions in 2016, you can make a donation by going here.  
    Shirley and Gene Kallio installed solar arrays on their home
    Gene and Shirley Kallio installed solar arrays
    on their home and want Consumers Energy
    to continue their EARP program. 

    Speaking Truth to Power... Companies

    Shirley and Gene Kallio installed solar arrays on their home outside of Grand Rapids, taking advantage of the Consumers Energy's Experimental Advanced Renewables Program (EARP). EARP provides an incentive for homeowners to invest in solar power, and is similar to DTE's Solar Currents Program. So when she learned that Consumers is considering phasing out the program, Shirley decided to travel to the Annual Shareholders Meeting to urge Consumers CEO John Russell to keep EARP up and running so other homeowners can use it as well.  
    Shirley was one of several advocates of clean energy who took time out of their schedules to speak to both the DTE Energy Annual Shareholder Meeting in Washington, D.C., and the Consumers Energy Annual Shareholder Meeting in Jackson, MI, earlier this month. As shareholders or representatives of shareholders they were able to speak insupport of resolutions before the DTE Energy shareholders, and ask the CEOs questions about policies and positions of Michigan's two largest electric utilities. Among issues raised were whether the companies would support any extension of the Michigan renewable energy standards and energy efficiency requirements, and why Michigan residential electric customers pay some of the highest rates in the country. Any shareholder is able to attend annual meetings in person, provide comment on resolutions that have been submitted to the annual meeting for a vote, and ask a question of the management.

    Explore and Enjoy! Thompson's Harbor State Park

    Sierra Club is committed to "exploring, enjoying and protecting the planet." The Michigan Chapter Update includes features on exploring and enjoying places in Michigan. Rebecca Hammond takes us on a trip to Thompson's Harbor State Park on the Lake Huron shoreline in Presque Isle County. 
    A Bat Skims the Water at Thompson's Harbor, by Rebecca Hammo
    A bat skims the water at Thompson's Harbor
    State Park.  photo by Rebecca Hammond 
    Have you ever heard of Thompson's Harbor State Park? Well, neither had we, aside from the hike mentioned in Jim DuFresne's 50 Hikes in Michigan. It's tip-of-the-index-finger country, on Lake Huron north of Alpena. This part of Michigan feels as remote as parts of the UP, and is certainly as scenic. And the hike hooked us. This park is special.
    It's undeveloped, like Negwegon State Park. The trails themselves seem nothing special; many are dead-straight, like old roads or rail grades, and many are broken and worn limestone, as much of the area is. But some places just grab you. The flora and faunadidn't hurt. Right where DuFresne says you'll see them are hundreds of pitcher plants, everywhere you look, with Lake Huron just beyond them (marker #2). A beaver swam blandly by in one of the remote-feeling bays, and a bat dived and darted in midday over a river that's the outlet to nearby Grand Lake (marker #4). We saw a grouse, but only two other people on the trail.

    Other possible hikes nearby are at Ocqueoc Falls, west of Rogers City and lovely, and the grounds of the Presque Isle Lighthouse to the east. The lighthouse also has a museum and gift shop, not open when we drove through; nor was the tower that you can climb if you're lucky enough to find things open. And nearby Cheyboygan State Park has a nice trail system, with a long stretch of beach to walk and lighthouse ruins. Both parks haverustic cabins to rent. This part of the state seems largely unknown, but is really worth a visit.Bring it full circle and give back some way after enjoying it. But make sure to put this part of the state on your list.  
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    109 E. Grand River Avenue
    Lansing, MI 48906 
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    Header photo Near Andrus Lake, Upper Michigan, by Beverly Wolf.

    Sunday, May 3, 2015

    Michigan Chapter Update - May 3, 2015

    Michigan Chapter Update
    May 3, 2015

    In this Issue:

    • Sierra Club Supports Proposal 1 on May 5th Election!
    • Political Committee Fundraiser May 6th features Farough and Miller
    • More than 100 Attend "Race, Class, Culture and Diversity in Environmental Organizations"
    • Democratic Legislators introduce Bold Clean Energy Package
    • House Legislators Introduce Pipeline Safety Legislation
    • "Don't Frack Up Our Future" Presentation May 7th in Grand Haven
    • Honor the People You Care About: Commemorative and Memorial Gifts
    • Explore and Enjoy! Fayette Historic State Park

    Sierra Club Supports Proposal 1 in the May 5th Election!

    Support Proposal 1 on May 5th! 
    The Michigan Chapter of Sierra Club has endorsed Proposal 1, a proposal that wouldincrease Michigan Votefunding for public transit.  Don't forget to vote in this special election this Tuesday, May 5th, between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm.

    Proposal 1 will provide $115 million a year in increased funding for public transportation throughout Michigan. This will allow expanded bus service for seniors, low-income workers and others while reducing the use of cars and greenhouse gas emissions. Proposal 1 will also provide $10 million a year to the Department of Natural Resource's Recreation Improvement Fund which provides grants for the operation, maintenance and development ofrecreation trails and restoration of lands damaged by off-road vehicles and inland lake cleanup.

    Click here to check your polling location, make sure you're registered, and see what your ballot will look like. And vote this Tuesday!

    Farough and Miller to Speak at Fundraiser on May 6th

    Are you sick of reading about how Michigan's legislature keeps attacking the environment? Here's your chance to fight back. The Michigan Chapter's Political Committee is hosting a fundraiser on May 6th in Lansing. Come hear from Gayle Miller and Dan Farough, the two previous Sierra Club political directors, who will be the honored speakers at this event.
    All of the money raised at the fundraiser will go toward helping elect pro-environment candidates to the Michigan legislature and local offices.

    Gayle MillerDan FaroughSierra Club Political Committee Fundraiser

    Wednesday, May 6th
    4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
    Kelly’s Downtown Irish Pub
    220 S Washington Square South
    Lansing, MI, 48933
    RSVP to if you’d like to attend. Can’t make it to the fundraiser but still want to help make it a success? Click here to make a donation for the fundraiser!


    More than 100 Attend "Race, Class, Culture and Diversity in Environmental Organizations"

    Detroit Race Class Culture event 2015
    "Race, Class, Culture, & Diversity in Environmental Organizations"
    program held March 26th at Wayne County Community College District
    (WCCCD).                                               Photo courtesy of WCCCD
    The Sierra Club Great Lakes Program partnered with the Beyond Coal Campaign in Detroit to host "Race, Class, Culture and Diversity in Environmental Organizations" at Wayne County Community College District on March 26th. 
    Over 100 people attended to learn about University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment professor Dr. Dorceta Taylor's latest research, "The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations." Former Sierra Club President Allison Chin spoke about the Sierra Club's history and efforts to be a diverse, equitable and inclusive multicultural organization. Post-presentation discussions facilitated by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity helped participants complete action plans for personal and organizational transformation. 
    Gail Philbin, Michigan Chapter Director, shared the Michigan Chapter's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in its recruitment of Executive Committee members. She also shared that the Executive Committee planned to host an introduction to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusionprogram of Sierra Club at the spring meeting. 
    Find out more about Sierra Club's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives here.

    Democratic Legislators Introduce A Bold Clean Energy Package

    Power Michigan's Future 
    On April 23rd a long awaited package called Powering Michigan's Future with bills to expand Michigan's renewable energy standards and energy efficiency was introduced into both Michigan houses of the legislature.  The bills will expand utility requirements forrenewable electric generation to 20 percent by 2022 and double the energy efficiency standards in Michigan to two percent per year.  The Senate package (SB 295296 and 297) was co-sponsored by every Democratic senator and the overwhelming majority of Democratic members of the House joined in co-sponsoring one or more House bills (HB 4055, 4518, and4519).
    "We strongly support this legislative package that will increase Michigan’s renewable energy and energy optimization standards" said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. "This legislation will protect clean air and water while also creating jobs and stabilizing the climate. It is fitting that this legislation was introduced right after the45th anniversary of Earth Day. We applaud the Democratic proposal and look forward to working with all lawmakers on legislation that will boldly claim clean energy as a Michigan priority."
    The Powering Michigan's Future bills are the first that would begin to implement the achievable energy goals identified in four reports prepared for Governor Snyder in 2013 by the Michigan Energy Office and the Michigan Public Service Commission. By contrast, the House Energy Committee is expected to continue to take testimony on a package of bills sponsored by the Committee Chair Aric Nesbitt that would undermine Michigan's renewable energy and energy optimization standards adopted in 2008.
    Take action to encourage Michigan's Legislators to strengthen our clean energy standards!

    House Legislators Introduce Pipeline Safety Legislation

    Oil and Gas Pipeline Safety Bills Introduced
    Legislators introduce oil and gas pipeline safety legisla-
    tion on Earth Day. From left: Nic Clark of Clean Water
    Action; Rep. Gretchen Driskell; Rep. Jeff Irwin; Rep.
    Sarah Roberts; and Sierra Club's Robert Gordon 
    On Earth Day, legislators reintroduced a package of bills designed toenhance oil and gas pipeline safety in Michigan. "We can’t afford another disaster like the 2010 oil pipeline leak that spread to the Kalamazoo River, where a ruptured pipeline and a delayed response caused enormous damage," Rep. Sarah Roberts said. "These bills will increase safety standards and enable more effective emergency responses, so that Michigan doesn’t suffer another billion-dollar debacle."
    Reps. Jeff Irwin, Gretchen Driskell and Tom Cochran joined with Roberts in introducing the legislation that would fix major holes in Michigan's current regulatory oversight of pipelines. Sierra Club legislative volunteer Robert Gordon said: "Cleaning up a leak is a lot more expensive and difficult than preventing one. And some damage to people and ecosystems can never be undone. That’s why it's so important to put measures in place now to avoid future leaks."
    The bills (HB 4511-4514) include requirements focused on protecting the Great Lakes, including requiring the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to regularly inspect pipelines that cross the Great Lakes, and requiring pipeline operators to obtain permits from the Michigan Public Service Commission that demand environmental review. The bills have not yet been scheduled for hearings.

    "Don't Frack Up Our Future" Presentation May 7th in Grand Haven

    Do you want to know more about oil and gas drilling in Michigan? Be at the Loutit District Library, 407 Columbus Avenue, Grand Haven, at 7 PM Thursday, May 7th, for the presentation "Don't Frack Up Our Future."
    SouthWest Michigan Group member Craig Brainard, who serves on the Michigan Chapter's Executive Committee and is the Education Coordinator for the Chapter’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign, has studied the issues of climate change and fracking for over a decade. He has traveled all across Michigan, talking with Michigan residents, local officials, drillers, legislators, the DEQ, the DNR, and others.
    In this knowledgeable presentation, Craig shares what he's learned about what's happening with oil and gas drilling in Michigan, its relationship to global warming, and what we need to do to protect public health, our beautiful state, and her resources.
    For more info, call (269) 945-8871, or call the Loutit District Library at (616) 842-5560.
    The Sierra Club's SouthWest Michigan Group is sponsoring the event. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome. Come join us!

    Commemorative and Memorial Gifts

    Honor People You Care about with a Gift to Sierra Club
    Honor the people you care about by preserving
    the beauty of nature with a gift to the Sierra
    Club Michigan Chapter

    Honoring the people you care about by preserving the beauty of nature

    Commemorative gifts are a unique way to honor someone important to you by celebrating a special occasion or commemorating a milestone, such as awedding, anniversary or birthday. Making a memorial gift in remembrance of a family member or dear friend, you not only affirm your environmental values, but also recognize that these values were shared by the individual being honored.

    For both commemorative & memorial gifts, a letter is sent to you acknowledging the gift and confirming that notice of the gift has been sent. For more information on either of these programs, email or call Jan at (616) 956-6646.

    To make a safe and secure immediate online gift click this link: Michigan Sierra Club Memorial/Honoree Gift.

    Explore and Enjoy! Fayette Historic State Park

    Fayette Historic State Park
    Restored ruins at Fayette Historic State Park frame
    the limestone cliffs across the natural harbor.
                                              photo by Anne Woiwode
    Sierra Club is committed to "exploring, enjoying and protecting the planet." The Michigan Chapter Update includes features on exploring and enjoying places in Michigan.  Conservation Director Anne Woiwode introduces us toFayette Historic State Park on the Garden Peninsula jutting off the Upper Peninsula into Lake Michigan.One of the most remote places in Michigan is home to a gem of a state park that offers excitement for history buffs, kayakers, hikers andbirdwatchersFayette Historic State Park is about 32 miles by road to the southwest of Manistique, lying about three-quarters of the way down the Garden Peninsula on Big Bay de Noc. My visit to the park was on a clear hot summer day, with the deep blue water of a lovely natural harbor formed by white limestone cliffs on the north painting a scene as inviting as any in Michigan. The harbor is the center of the Fayette Historic Townsite, once a thriving industrial town that produced charcoal pig iron in the late 1800s. The park offers exhibits and programs about the history of the site. 
    For those seeking outdoor adventures, the harbor and bay attract paddlers to explore the shoreline and get up close to the cliffs. Five miles of trails are open for hiking and cross-country skiing, including a short trail that runs ontop of the cliffs, providing wonderful views of the townsite, the harbor and the bay. The limestone cliffs are part of the Niagra Escarpment which runs from New York State through Ontario, creating Niagra Falls, then across the Upper Peninsula and into Wisconsin through the Door Peninsula. The proximity of the Door and Garden Peninsulas, with islands spaced between them, makes the peninsula a good site for viewing migrating raptors and songbirds.
    As you visit any public lands in Michigan this year, please make a point of letting your legislators know how much you value the opportunity public lands give you to hike, paddle, ski, camp, fish, hunt, gather berries or just sit quietly and enjoy nature.  These lands are now in the crosshairs of legislators who are seeking to privatize large amounts of Michigan's public lands. To find out more, visit the Michigan Chapter website.
    Here are Some Great Ways to Support Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Get Engaged!
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    Monday, April 27, 2015

    Energy policy debate is missing the point, advocates say

    Capital News Service: Energy policy debate is missing the point, advocates say

    Capital News Service

    Lansing - Debate over Michigan’s future energy policy continues with proposals aimed at cheap, reliable energy.

    But environmental advocates say legislators are missing the bigger picture.

    Climate change has yet to be discussed at any great length, said Mike Berkowitz, the legislative and policy director for the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter.

    Some of the proposed policies are “a true climate disaster” in light of 97 percent of climate scientists agreeing that change is happening and people are driving it through the carbon emissions created largely by burning fossil fuels.

    Climate change has major implications for public health, Berkowitz said. It impacts water supply, food and the type of diseases we deal with.

    “Nobody at the Capitol right now is talking about policies to fix these problems, and I think that’s what we truly need,” Berkowitz said.

    Three energy-related policies have been proposed by Republicans. Another is proposed by Democrats. But their focus remains firmly on savings for consumers and how to increase energy production.

    New energy policy is a priority, with 2008 mandates requiring utilities to draw 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015 set to expire this year. Utilities are on track to meet the mandate, according to a Michigan Public Service Commission report.

    Support for the proposals that have emerged to keep, increase or eliminate the mandate are split on party lines.

    Concerns over Michigan’s energy capacity are an added pressure, with federal mandates set to shut down a number of coal-fired electrical plants soon.

    Gov. Rick Snyder in March pushed for more renewable energy and to increase the state’s reliance on natural gas.

    Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, who chairs the House Energy Committee, introduced an eight-bill package keeping the renewable portfolio standard at 10 percent, eliminating the energy efficiency mandate and redefining renewable energy to include burning tires and other waste.

    Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, is set to introduce his own bill that would move the state toward what is called an integrated resource planning approach. It would require energy utilities to report to the Michigan Public Service Commission their expected customer and base loads, energy capacity and reserve margins and how they plan to meet them.

    Nofs’ bill would also repeal the renewable portfolio and energy optimization standards – requirements that utilities engage in energy efficiency programs.

    But Democrats on April 23 introduced in both the House and Senate a plan to double the renewable portfolio and energy optimization standards.

    Sam Gomberg, an energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he supports the Democrats’ proposal to increase mandates as the only environmental policy that makes sense.

    “They’ve worked, they’ve been cost effective, they’ve done exactly what they were intended to do and we’ve clearly benefited,” Gomberg said. “I feel that, politics aside, this is the right direction for Michigan to go.”

    A 2014 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Charting Michigan’s Renewable Energy Future, showed Michigan could affordably and reliably generate 32.5 percent of its electricity by 2030 on renewables alone.

    This would spur investment, cut carbon emissions and reduce the state’s reliance on coal and natural gas, the report said.

    Nicholas Occhipinti, policy director for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, said the Council would support raising the renewable portfolio mandate, but the legislature also needs to look towards energy efficiency.

    Climate change, he said, will play a role in the discussion, but there are a lot of pieces of this conversation that are being overlooked.

    “Energy efficiency should be the foundation of our policy, but none of the plans, from the governor, the Senate or the House have preserved the mandate to get us there — to build off of the success we’ve already had,” he said. “We would like to see them reconsider the notion.”

    Integrated resource planning to meet energy targets are ineffective without the mandates, Occhipinti said.

    In a perfect world, energy efficiency would be a top priority of an integrated resource planning process, he said. But without a mandate, it has not happened nationally.

    While the state has made great progress since 2008, it is time for a different approach, Nofs said.

    “I support whatever is clean, affordable and reliable,” he said. “I think we are doing all the right things, and pushing the envelope even further.”

    Nofs said he agrees the state needs to improve energy efficiency, but argues it can be done without the mandate. His bill introduces an energy standard — yet to be determined — which requires utilities to draw a certain amount of energy from renewables and provides incentives to expand them.

    Gomberg worries that if legislators fail to implement strict rules and mandates for the utilities, progress with renewables will stall.

    “You could really open it up to manipulation by the utility companies,” he said. “I’m not an anti-utility guy, but I think you have to be honest about their motives. What is in their best interests is not necessarily going to be in the best interests of Michiganders.”

    The legislature should define the parameters in which the utilities operate, Gomberg said. He applauded Snyder’s focus on energy efficiency, but said he is wary of the push toward natural gas.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released a report tracking the state’s move toward natural gas over the past five years and describing its risks.

    “Price with natural gas has historically been very volatile,” Gomberg said. “Natural gas is also a fossil fuel; burning it emits a lot of carbon, which impacts on climate change.”

    Cost is the factor being argued by both sides of the legislature, but Occhipinti said lawmakers need to remember Michiganders are experiencing more than just monetary cost.

    “Nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, mercury — these are emissions, pollutants that ratepayers and citizens bear the cost of that just don’t factor into the price of energy,” he said.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    Michigan Chapter Update - April 19, 2015

    Michigan Chapter Update
    April 19, 2015

    In this Issue:

    • Celebrate 45 years of Earth Day by Taking Action!
    • Sign Up NOW for Citizen Lobby Day on May 6th
    • Sierra Club Protecting the Au Sable River from Fish Farm
    • Urge Your Lawmaker to Oppose "No Stricter Than Federal" Bill
    • Explore and Enjoy! Holly State Recreation Area

      Celebrate 45 years of Earth Day by Taking Action!

      Celebrate EARTH DAY with
      Sierra Club all year long! 
      April 19th at 1:00 pm: DetroitGreen Infrastructure Bike Tour,
      Meet at Rivard Plaza, 1340 East Atwater St.  Southeast Michigan Group and
      Great Lakes Program outing
      April 21st at 7:30 pm: Ann Arbor:"Alternate Energy: The Data and the How", Mathaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N Dixsboro Rd. Huron Valley Group program
      April 22nd at 5:30 pm, Detroit:   Growing Detroit: An Earth Day Conversation about Detroit's Future, Wayne County Community College District, 1001 W. Fort St. RSVP here.  Find details here.

      April 25th at 10:00 am, Detroit: Rain Barrels on the RiverfrontRivard Plaza, 1340 E. Atwater St. Sign up for the event or pre-purchase your rain barrel here
      April 25th at 10:00 am, FlushingNature Hike at Flushing Township Park, 8301 N. McKinley Rd. Nepessing Group outing 

      May 3rd at 2:00 pm, Williamston: "Spring Frogs and Identifying Their Calls" McGrath's Nature Discovery Center, 5900 N. Williamston Rd. Crossroads Group
      May 22nd - 25th, North Manitou Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Service outing sponsored by the Crossroads Group, reservation required.
      On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans gathered across the country for teach-ins and protests to demand a clean environment at the first Earth Day. That amazing effort kicked off 45 years of environmental protections, but today serious problems remain and huge issues like climate change loom large. There is no better time than the present to take your passion for the environment and turn it into action!
      In the box at right are Sierra Club activities in April and May in Michiganthat will inspire and engage you,whether you are looking to talk with elected officials at our Citizen Lobby Day or spend a few days in the wilderness.
      Another great way to honor both Earth Day and someone you admire is to give aCommemorative Gift to Sierra Club Michigan Chapter in their honor. What better way to show you care than by supporting the environmental advocacy work of the Michigan Chapter in the name of someone you care for! Find out more here.
      Sierra Club volunteers meet with Rep. LaVoy
      Representative Bill LaVoy (second from left) meets
      with Sierra Club Citizen Lobbyists Mitchell Barrows,
      Robert Gordon and Bill Gittlen to talk about clean

      Sign Up Now: Citizen Lobby Day on May 6th

      Sierra Club will host our first Citizen Lobby Day of the year on May 6th. This unique and exciting event involves dozens of Club members and supporters who converge on Lansing to educate lawmakers about important environmental issues. You'll have fun meeting your legislators and kindred spirits, like the folks in the photo meeting State Rep. Bill LaVoy. On May 6th, we will discuss the benefits of clean energy and the dangers of fracking with lawmakers. 
      Pre-registration for Lobby Day is required. Find more info on the event and sign up here!

      Sierra Club: Protecting the Au Sable River as Trout Season Opens

      Marvin Roberson, Forest EcologistMarvin Roberson leads the
      Sierra Club's work to protect
      the Au Sable River
      Michigan's Trout season opens on the last Saturday of April, which this year falls on April 25. Thousands of anglers and river enthusiasts will celebrate by getting out onto Michigan’s fabled trout streams.
      This year, the Sierra Club will be celebrating by continuing our efforts to protect the most storied of those rivers, the Au Sable.
      Almost defying belief, there is a proposal to place an industrial fish farm right in the middle of the Au Sable River, just above the section known as the "Holy Waters". The permit for this facility will allow discharge of effluent, nutrients, disease, and whole fish into the Au Sable. Sierra Club has filed suit to stop this facility.
      We are asking for outright denial of the permit which was granted to this facility. Simply put, we do not believe that a facility of this type belongs in a river of this quality, and we do not think that any modifications to a permit can change that.
      The Au Sable is world famous, and justifiably so. Thousands of people come to this magnificent river annually to reconnect with nature, and it deserves better than to be turned into a factory farm. Sierra Club is working to assure that the river gets the protection it deserves.
      Lansing Needs to Protect Michigan's Environment

      Does Your Lawmaker Think Michigan Should Be No Better than the Rest?

      Michigan is surrounded by 20 percent of the earth's fresh surface water supply. But some state representatives want to pass House Bill 4246 which weakens protection for the Great Lakes and all aspects of Michigan’s environment.
      This bill would prohibit the governor and his/her agencies from issuing any rule that is more protective than federal law. In effect it says there is nothing special about Michigancompared with any other state in the union and takes away the governor's power to protect clean air and water. 

      Explore and Enjoy! Holly State Recreation Area

      Sandhill cranes at Holly Recreation Area
      Sandhill cranes on the ice at Holly
      Recreation Area in 2014
             photo by Rebecca Hammond
      Sierra Club is committed to "exploring, enjoying and protecting the planet." The Michigan Chapter Update includes features on exploring and enjoying places in Michigan. Rebecca Hammond brings another great introduction to a wonderful place in Michigan: this time Holly State Recreation Area in northwest Oakland County.  
      Holly State Recreation Area might be Michigan's best-kept secret. A big state park within easy driving distance of both Flint and Detroit, it has a number of small lakes, a nice (and sometimes challenging) trail system, two rental cabins, a beach with amenities on another lake, good fishing, and the best turtle population I've ever enjoyed.
      Holly is our favorite local hike, and a good place to paddle, especially when the sun is going
      Tiny Turtle at Holly Recreation Area
      Tiny turtle at Holly Recreation Area
                           photo by Rebecca Hammond
      down. Silence settles, and wildlife emerges. You can hike all afternoon there, given the size of the trail system, and if you campthere, you can hit the trails right from the campground. There's canoe and kayak rental as well. A tiring (for us) but satisfying day is a picnic, a paddle, and a hike. I once saw, in the evening, something I later read about (or would think I hallucinated it): mice running in circles, playing, maybe two dozen, in and out of the grass, crossing the trail, jumping. The anecdote I read took place in Maine and described an estimated 500.
      Giving back at a place like Holly (as you're completing the circle of exploring, enjoying, and protecting) might mean pulling garlic mustard. I've been both horrified at the amount, and amazed that two people over a few years could make a difference. Garlic mustard is a tame plant brought here from Europe, and stayed contained for a very long time. Its roots secrete a chemical that makes it hard for other plants to compete. Pulling even a little makes a big difference, even if you pull it after the seeds fell.
      Know what else makes you feel you contributed and didn't just benefit? Taking a roll of TP and leaving it in one of the outhouses (usually stocked, not always.)
      Here are Some Great Ways to Support Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Get Engaged!
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