Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Michigan Legislature Update from Sierra Club - June 18, 2015

Michigan Legislature Update from Sierra Club
June 18, 2015
Submitted by Mike Berkowitz

The Michigan House has concluded session for their summer recess while the Senate is still debating whether or not to take a summer break.

Energy Legislation
-House: Energy Committee Chair Nesbitt held hearings on his bills (HB 4298-4304) but has not taken any further action on them yet. This legislation would repeal Michigan’s Energy Optimization Standard, classify waste incineration as a renewable energy form, and allow for the expansion of natural gas pipelines and infrastructure using ratepayer money.

We submitted written testimony opposing this legislation and have been actively lobbying against it.

-Senate: We are still waiting on Senate Energy Committee Chairman Sen. Nofs to introduce his legislation.

Pipeline/Energy FOIA Legislation
HB 4540 (Heise) blocks public access to information about “critical energy infrastructure” and “cybersecurity” through the Freedom of Information Act. The bill had two committee hearings but has not yet been voted on. Legislators on the House Oversight and Ethics committee are negotiating amendments to the bill. We are encouraging lawmakers to either oppose the bill or remove the “critical energy infrastructure” portion of the legislation and only make it apply to cybersecurity.

We submitted written testimony opposing this legislation and have been actively lobbying against it.

Fracking Waste Legislation
HB 4469 (Pagan) and SB 277 (Hopgood) would regulate low-level radioactive fracking waste in Michigan landfills. We are neutral on this legislation because it does not ban the waste or increase environmental protection substantively. It mainly focuses on increasing documentation and reporting from landfills that accept fracking waste. The bill sponsors are still negotiating the bill language with the DEQ and hope to get a committee hearing on it later this year.

We are encouraging other legislators to introduce a bill that would completely ban radioactive fracking waste and/or substantively increase environmental standards.

No Stricter Than Federal Legislation
HB 4246 (Farrington) would prohibit the Governor and his/her agencies from issuing any regulation that is more stringent than federal law unless specifically authorized by the legislature. This bill had two Regulatory Reform committee hearings but has not been voted on. Gov. Snyder vetoed similar legislation two sessions ago.

We submitted written testimony opposing this legislation and have been actively lobbying against it.

Modifying the Natural Resources Trust Fund
SB 206 (Booher/Casperson) would tie the hands of the Department of Natural Resources when it comes to managing land, while also changing the Natural Resources Trust Fund to focus more heavily on developing land. This legislation had one committee hearing with major pushback from us, the MI Environmental Council, and the DNR. The legislation has temporarily stalled since that hearing but we are prepared in case it comes back up.

If you have questions about any of these items, legislation not included in this update, or want to find out how you can get involved with our legislative work, please email

Thursday, June 11, 2015

To protect Great Lakes, Lansing must keep pipeline safety info public

David Holtz12:12 a.m. EDT June 11, 2015

We need to know more about the oil pipelines that run under our Great Lakes, not less. But companies like Enbridge Energy Partners are supporting a move by Michigan’s Legislature to keep documents about the safety of oil-bearing pipelines out of the public eye.
As House Bill 4540 was introduced, oil industry representatives were offering testimony in Lansing, and beforehand Enbridge’s lobbyist was working to line up support from environmentalist groups. The law they support would ensure that Michigan citizens cannot know what companies like Enbridge are doing, or how they are doing it.
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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Michigan Chapter Update - June 7, 2015

Michigan Chapter Update
June 7, 2015

In this Issue:

  • Pipeline Secrecy Bill: Your Voice Still Needed
  • Palisades Nuclear Plant Owner Seeks "Regulatory Relief" 
  • Shut Down of Enbridge Line 5 at Mackinac Straits Called For 
  • Aaron Mair Elected as Sierra Club President
  • Less=More Working to Address Lake Erie Toxic Algae Bloom
  • Help the Less=More Campaign and Sustainable Agriculture in Michigan
  • Chapter Retreat in August Includes Live Wildlife
  • Cecilia's Pathetic Plea for a Laptop
  • Enjoy and Explore: Sylvania Wilderness


Protect the Great Lakes for Oil Spills
Thanks to an outpouring of outrage and concern across the state, the  Pipeline Secrecy Bill, HB 4540 has been stalled in the House Oversight and Ethics committee! Massive energy corporations, including Enbridge and Michigan's utilities, are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on legislators to pass this bill. Supporters of HB 4540 seek to shut down the public's right to know potential health, safety and environmental risks posed by oil and gas pipelines, power plants, transmission lines, and refineries.
In today's edition of the Michigan Chapter Update you'll read about Sierra Club's work to move our state to clean energy and off dirty, polluting fossil fuels. Your right to know what is happening with these kinds of facilities is being threatened by HB 4540.

This bill is clearly a test case - if HB 4540 passes in the Great Lakes state we expect it to show up throughout the country. Communities and citizen organizations are fighting back nationwide against property rights violations, environmental threats and health concerns raised by the massive acceleration in pipeline building and natural gas boom. Let's stop this bad idea from becoming law in Michigan to protect our economy, our communities and our children's future!

Take action now to stop the Pipeline Secrecy bill proposed in the Michigan House! 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!


Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, MI
Owners of the Palisades Nuclear Plant are seeking "regulatory relief" to keep this plant running despite a litany of serious problems. 
Palisades Nuclear Plant, considered by experts to pose one of the greatest risks to public health and the environment of any such plant in the country, is seeking unprecedented "regulatory relief" from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which would allow the plant to extend its operations for decades beyond its current retirement date.

The power plant, located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Covert Township, Michigan, has a  long, troubled history of safety and environmental concerns. The current owner,Entergy Nuclear has failed to provide upkeep and maintain safety standards for Palisades, including failing to test the safety of its reactor pressure vessel, the nuclear heart of the plant. Now, Entergy has applied for further and unprecedented "regulatory relief," which includes lowering the safety standards of its  already-embrittled reactor and extend its operation date.
The plant hosts grave risks, where an accident at Palisades could ruin a significant portion of Michigan's agricultural industry and contaminate drinking water for millions who live in the Great Lakes region. A  coalition of environmental organizations, including Beyond Nuclear and Don't Waste Michigan, has intervened to urge that the NRC deny Entergy's proposal for regulatory relief.
You can take action: ask Michigan's US Senators Stabenow and Peters to request that Palisades Nuclear Plant safety be investigated by the Government Accountability Office and investigate the raiding of Palisades' decommissioning fund. In addition, the plant should be banned from storing its hundreds of tons of dangerous radioactive waste in defective containers just 150 yards from Lake Michigan's waterThe Sierra Club policies call for wastes to be stored in Hardened On-Site Storage at a less risky location.

Contact  Senator Debbie Stabenow at (202) 224-4822 and  Senator Gary Peters at (202) 224-6221 to voice your concerns about this plant's danger and demand action!

Want to do more? Contact  Mark Muhich to find out more about formation of a Michigan Chapter Nuclear Free Committee.


O&WDM Press Conference, May 2015
MI Chapter Chair David Holtz (second from right) on
Mackinac Island with (from left) Gary Street of For
Love of Water (FLOW), Kate Madigan of Michigan
Environmental Council (MEC), volunteer Deb Hansen,
and Jim Lively of the Groundwork Center for Resilient
On a cold, rainy day on Mackinac Island, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair David Holtz joined with tribal and environmental representatives to call Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and DEQ Director Dan Wyant to  shut down Enbridge's two 62 year old crude oil pipelines running through the Straits of Mackinac pending a full look at environmental threats and alternatives. report prepared for  (FLOW)For Love of Water by engineers and scientists was publicly released at the May 27th event at the beginning of the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference.

Gary Street, former Director of Engineering, Dow Environmental–AWD Technologies, spoke at the press conference on behalf of the expert team which prepared the report. Street explained that conditions in the Great Lakes themselves have changed dramatically in the past sixty years, creating problems never anticipated when the pipelines were designed and built. In particular, the report cites the presence of zebra mussels on the pipeline, an invasive species which entered the Great Lakes through ballast water after the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened up in 1959. Zebra mussel excrement has a corrosive effect on exposed steel, according to scientific studies, and  video footage of the Line 5 pipelines taken in 2013 by the National Wildlife Federation clearly shows them covered in growth and debris, including zebra mussels.

"It’s clear from these scientific findings that Line 5 should be shut down and an open, public process immediately begun to consider the best way to avoid a catastrophic oil spill into the Great Lakes, home to 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water," said Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW. "The public has a right to know the risk and to expect leadership from the governor and his task force led by Attorney General Bill Schuette and DEQ Director Dan Wyant." The Task Force, which has been meeting behind closed doors since June 2014, has not yet announced a date for release of their recommendations.

Street, Kirkwood and Holtz were joined by Aaron Payment, Tribal Chairman, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, andBruce Wallace, national board chair of the National Wildlife Federation. The Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities(formerly known as Michigan Land Use Institute) and the Michigan Environmental Council were also instrumental in the press conference and release of the report. Read the   full press release and  FLOW's report. If you would like to join or support this work, please contact  David Holtz or  Anne Woiwode.

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Aaron Mair of New York was elected
President of Sierra Club's national Board


The Sierra Club's newly elected president Aaron Mair hopes to  challenge the historical norms and goals associated with the American environmental movement. As the first-ever African American president of the Club, Mair sees the need for a more diverse crowd to possess a greater say in grassroots activity and overall goals at Sierra Club for years to come.
For Mair, this perspective stems from over three decades of environmental justice work. 31 years ago, he began grassroots environmental justice organizing, including rallying a community in Arbor Hill, New York, a city where a toxic incinerator was causing respiratory illnessesamong local residents. Two of these residents were Mair's own daughters. "Nature knows no difference between black and white," Mair said. "… It's about the people bringing about change. The climate movement isn't about politicians; it's about the grassroots."
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune shared in this optimistic attitude, similarly hopeful about expanding the voices within Sierra Club. "With [Mair's] leadership, we're making progress toward becoming an organization that empowers everyone affected by climate disruption, including those on the front lines of environmental injustice," Brune said. "This is a historic moment for the Sierra Club."

Less= More is fighting CAFO pollution.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Vanuga, USDA/NRCS


It's that time of year when factory farm operators empty lagoons that have held the waste of thousands of animals all winter and spread it on fields to dispose of it in a supposedly ecologically sound manner. Unfortunately, this waste—a toxic brew of pathogens, antibiotics, and chemicals in addition to manure—often gets into nearby waterways due to spills, leaks or the occasional intentional dumping. When that happens, it sets up a chain of events that can lead to disasters like  last summer's Lake Erie algae bloom, which involved the growth of a toxin that poisoned the drinking water for more than 400,000 people in Toledo, Ohio, and southern Michigan for two days in August.

The story of how dangerous levels of microcystin ended up in the water supply of Ohio's fourth-largest city is in large part the story of how we grow our food today. We like cheap food and most of us buy meat, dairy, poultry and eggs at the supermarket or restaurant that come from heavily-subsidized, industrial-scale livestock facilities.Phosphorus in the animal waste from these facilities as well as crop fertilizer from operations growing corn to feed these animals in southern Michigan runs off into local waterways that lead to Lake Erie where, in warm temperatures, it can nurture microcystin.

Even if we go out of our way to buy local, sustainable products from farmers markets and local sources,  our tax dollars still go to support polluting factory farms and the crops that fuel the animals. Sierra Club has been battling this kind of pollution since the late 1990s, fighting for stronger laws, regulations and enforcement of animal factories. And we spearheaded Less=More, a coalition that seeks to end subsidies to polluting factory farms and shift support to sustainable agriculture.


What happened in Lake Erie wasn't a fluke. It will happen again there or somewhere else, because industrial agriculture dominates our food landscape. We're working hard to change that reality, and you can help. Get involved in  Less=More today!
  • Get educated. Learn more about  our campaign to end factory farm subsidies and check out our documentary,  Local, Healthy Food: The Real Bargain for the story of food in Michigan.
  • Show your support. Join  Less=More online and help us keep the pressure on state agencies to shift subsidy support to sustainable farming by donating to the Less=More campaign.
  • Stay in the loop. Follow us on  Facebook and Twitter  @MoreforMichigan
  • Sierra Club Michigan's volunteer Agriculture Committee is dedicated to the principle of building a sustainable food system without factory farms. It works to support farms that improve the soil, conserve biodiversity and habitats, and produce safe, healthy food, where workers are treated with respect, animals are treat humanely, and vibrant communities are maintained.Interested in learning more? Contact
  • Questions? Contact  Gail Philbin.


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Join us to see Jim McGrath present
Michigan's wild, native species!
This year's annual retreat will include various recreational activities to appeal to all age groups, including wildlife presentations from  Nature Discovery based out of Williamston, Michigan. The organization works to educate audiences about indigenous wildlife and the importance of protecting biodiversity.

A wildlife expert will focus on the diverse group of animals that the state of Michigan hosts. This will include over 40 species of turtles, frogs, salamanders, and other species native to the state. Presentations include live predator/prey relationships, real representations of each animal's habitat and how each occupies its niche.
The activity allows the audience to participate by closely inspecting the animals as well as asking questions about their traits and the most effective ways that humans can ensure their protection. The presentation will show retreat participants how climate change affects these especially vulnerable creatures.
Don't forget to  register for the retreat soon so that you can enjoy this activity andmany more!

Visit our  eBay page to help us provide scholarships for those who want to attend this year's retreat. Contact  Cecilia Garcia for more information. 


Help Cecilia Get Back to Work with a New Computer!
Cecilia Garcia, dedicated member of our Michigan Chapter staff takes care of our everyday logistics, including organizing our annual retreat, managing member concerns and just about everything else. Unfortunately, what Cecila also deals with is an archaic laptop that gives her daily struggles.
We're asking supporters to  spare a few dollars if possible to help this overachieving member of the team purchase a new laptop that will speed up efficiency in the office and make her life a little easier.

As a non-profit, Sierra Club works to serve both the environment and the people who occupy it. However, we need the critical tools to continue carrying out these missions. It's everyday people who make our everyday work fighting for environmental protection a success!
Thanks for helping out and allowing Cecilia to do what she does best!
Contact Jan O'Connell at 616-956-6646 or to help, OR just send a check made out toSierra Club Michigan Chapter to 109 E. Grand River Ave, Lansing, MI 48906. Donations to the Sierra Club are not tax-deductible because they support our effective citizen based advocacy and lobbying efforts!  You can also  click here to make a secure donation online.


Sierra Club is committed to "exploring, enjoying and protecting the planet." The Michigan Chapter Update includes features on exploring and enjoying places in Michigan. Chapter Conservation Director Anne Woiwode talks about one of her favorite places:  Sylvania Wilderness in the Ottawa National Forest

Sylvania Wilderness, photo by John Rebers
Sylvania wilderness is a paddler's paradise, with thirty-
four named lakes. Photo by John Rebers
The Sylvania Wilderness, on the Wisconsin border near Watersmeet, sits on the divide between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins, making the crystal clear waters in the extraordinary complex of lakes found there almost chemically identical to rainfall. With no motors allowedwithin the wilderness boundaries, paddlers enjoy an exquisite sense of solitude on the thirty-four named lakes found in the 18,327 acre wilderness. Sierra Club was instrumental in securing Congressional designation of Sylvania and nine other Michigan Forest Service wildernesses in 1987, and the wisdom of that designation becomes more apparent every year.

Please plan your trip carefully - make sure you obtain up to date  maps, carry a compass and be prepared with whatever gear you will need for your planned activities, with a margin for error to protect against unforeseen mishapsdominated by ancient red and white pines surround the lakes, and at times visitors will delight in rare orchids and wildflowers. Common loonsclaim these lakes as their own, so during the summer months you can almost guarantee that you'll hear their haunting calls. Wolves, eagles, and ospreyare also found in the area.

Visitors can enjoy this area all year round with skiing and snow shoeing as an option in the winter, as well as hiking trails. Most visitors enjoy the area from kayaks or canoes, starting their adventure at the carry down boat ramps on Clark Lake or Crooked Lake. Nearby outfitters are available to provide gear and guidance on enjoying Sylvania. Fishing is allowed with a state permit and special regulations for the area available at the Entrance Station. A limited number of well dispersed campsites are found within the wilderness in order to protect the delicate ecosystem, and must be reserved. Drive in camping is also available outside of the wilderness at the Clark Lake campground. Part of Crooked Lake is outside the wilderness and a handful of homes and a small non-motorized resort occupy part of the northern lobe of the lake. You may encounter small motorized boats outside the wilderness boundary on Crooked Lake.

Visiting Sylvania wilderness should be on the list for everyone who wishes to know parts of Michigan that are virtually unchanged from the time of first human habitation. Our efforts under state and federal laws to protect exquisite areas like this pay off for generations yet to come, but vigilance is essential to defend and protect them into the future.

Here are Some Great Ways to Support Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Get Engaged!
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We welcome feedback on the Michigan Chapter Update - Contact us at

Michigan Chapter - Sierra Club
109 E. Grand River Avenue
Lansing, MI 48906 
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Header photo Near Andrus Lake, Upper Michigan, by Beverly Wolf.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

DTE's rate structure and lack of accountability is harming Michigan communities; The solution? Off the grid LED lighting!

DTE's rate structure and lack of accountability is harming Michigan communities
The solution? Off the grid LED lighting!

By Jackson Koeppel

In 2011, the City of Highland Park, MI, home to the world’s first automated assembly line, first mile of paved road, and first depressed urban freeway, lost over 1000 city streetlights to repossession by DTE Energy. The city had been unable to pay a $65,000 per month energy bill for some time and racked up $4 million in municipal electric debt. Amidst already staggering poverty and collapsing infrastructure, residents of this majority black city in the center of Detroit had to sit and watch their streetlights be removed and carted off. Go to youtube and search ‘Highland Park in the Dark: DTE Removes Streetlights’ if you don’t believe me.

In response, I helped to form Soulardarity, a community organization formed around the installation of community-owned off-grid solar streetlights. Since 2012 we have installed two pilot projects and inspired the city and county to collaborate on an off-grid solar lighting project for the Ernest T. Ford Recreation center. Soulardarity is currently in the process of forming into a membership organization that will pursue off-grid solar street lighting, energy efficiency, and community education and organizing to build a democratic and equitable energy system.

Recently, Highland Park invested in high-efficiency LEDs for some of their remaining lights,
along with many other municipalities in southeast Michigan. DTE publicly encouraged this
investment. The city of Ypsilanti, for instance, spent $500,000 converting their streetlights to
LEDs on a promise of saving at least $120,000 annually. Now, DTE has put forward a rate case that would raise the operating rates of LED lighting, while lowering the operating rates of sodium bulbs, significantly diminishing the payback for cities which invested in upgrading their lighting. Twenty-four municipalities are intervening in this rate case for lack of any good reason that LED lighting should be so much more expensive to maintain.

It is almost convenient that Highland Park was so brutally wracked by the repossession - at least the con didn’t cost us as much. Starting from scratch, it is actually more affordable to install off-grid solar-powered lighting than lighting tied to the rising cost of fossil fuels and the desperation of an obsolete monopoly. It indicates to me that cities everywhere should be paying attention to places like Highland Park, where the devastation wreaked by an economy designed for gambling addicts is most acute, and where the transformation to a new one is actually possible.

At a DTE shareholder meeting last week, I asked Gerald Anderson, DTE’s board chairman, face-to-face, why this rate case is being advanced. He said, and this is almost word-for-word, that LED streetlights used such little energy that they need to raise fixed costs to pay for their infrastructure.

Let that sink in.

If your community reduces its energy use, DTE is going to raise rates to pay for their coal plants and nuclear plants, transmission lines, transformers - even though you’re using them less. The message is clear: DTE cares more about their investors than the communities they serve. They aren’t going to help us make an energy economy that works for our communities unless we demand it.

This is not the first, or the last, time that DTE will double-cross our communities. We know that they will fight tooth and nail against efforts to make our own energy . We know that they have money - but we have something better. This regional collaboration to intervene in the LED rate case could be the beginning of the transformation I’ve been having fever dreams and powerful conversations about. I hope it is, because I’m keenly aware that we are on a tight schedule to avoid catastrophic, old testament, seven plagues-style climate collapse. We’re already feeling it - last year, Highland Park got six inches of rain in 24 hours in an event that cost Michiganders over $1 billion. 

So Michigan, it’s time to get serious. Let’s work together to build a new energy economy like our lives depend on it - because they do.

Jackson Koeppel is Co-Director of Soulardarity, a community organization working on solar lighting and energy democracy in Highland Park, MI. You can learn more at and reach him at 917 554 3741 or

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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    Header photo Near Andrus Lake, Upper Michigan, by Beverly Wolf.