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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 david@davidholtz.org

    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 jrossa46@gmail.com or Jan at 616-956-6646 or jan.oconnell@sierraclub.org.

    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 cecilia.garcia@sierraclub.org / (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.  
    Here are Some Great Ways to Support Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Get Engaged!
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    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.

    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 mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org 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 jan.connell@sierraclub.org 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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    We welcome feedback on the Michigan Chapter Update - Contact us at michigan.chapter@sierraclub.org.