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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.  
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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.

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