Saturday, August 15, 2015

Michigan Chapter Update - August 15, 2015

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Michigan Chapter Update

AUGUST 16 2015 

In this issue:

  • GOV BLANCHARD URGED TO PROTECT GREAT LAKES FROM ENBRIDGE LINE 5
  • UPCOMING EVENTS: -LAST CHANCE: SIGN UP FOR THE ANNUAL RETREAT: AUGUST 21-23-PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH IN GRAND RAPIDS: SEPTEMBER 19 -DETROIT MARCH FOR JUSTICE: OCTOBER 3
  • SIERRA CLUB FILES AMICUS BRIEF ON PALISADE'S NUCLEAR PLANT
  • SENATE BILL WOULD UNDERMINE NET METERING FOR SOLAR 
  • GO SOLAR WITH SIERRA CLUB! MI SOLAR PARTNERSHIP
  • JOIN THE BAN FRACKING IN MICHIGAN PETITION DRIVE!
  • SPEAK UP ABOUT MICHIGAN'S WATER STRATEGY
  • THANK YOU TO TIM MINOTAS!
  • EXPLORE AND ENJOY: IARGO SPRINGS

    LAST CHANCE TO SIGN UP TODAY AND MONDAY:
    Come Join Us at the Annual Retreat August 21st to 23rd!
    Chapter Annual Retreat 
    August 21-23
    Camp Miniwanca
    Shelby, MI
     Join us for a Peoples' Climate March in West Michigan!
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    Learn more and RSVP here.
    September 19, 1-2:30 p.m.
    6th Street Bridge Park, Grand Rapids
     SAVE THE DATE!
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    Detroit March for Justice
    October 3, 12 p.m.
    Roosevelt Park, Detroit

    SIERRA CLUB URGES FORMER GOVERNOR TO USE ROLE ON ENBRIDGE BOARD TO SHUT DOWN LINE 5

    The Sierra Club called on former Michigan Governor James Blanchard, who currently serves as a board member for Enbridge, Inc., to address immediate safety concerns associated with the Canadian company's Line 5 crude oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.
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    Advocates gathered at the Capitol to urge government officials to shut down the 62-year-old Line 5 pipeline. Photo by Cecilia Garcia.
    As chair of the Enbridge board's Committee of Social Responsibility, Blanchard's position calls for his oversight on environmental stewardship and the protection of local communities. The Sierra Club letter calls on the former governor to compel the company to publicly disclose safety inspection results and cooperate in an independent investigation sought by the state, in line with Blanchard's authority and duties at the company. The request calls directly on Blanchard to aid in the immediate shut down of Line 5, as the company failed to maintain legal pipeline infrastructure and provided inconsistent liability information in the event of an oil spill.
    The company's history with this 61-year-old pipeline proves to violate the very goals of Blanchard's position on the board of directors, one created in response to the company's catastrophic Line 6b breech that devastated the Kalamazoo River and local communities.
    Michigan Sierra Club Chair David Holtz weighed in on the importance of preventing a similar catastrophe by holding the company, specifically Blanchard, accountable. "Governor Blanchard is not only in a unique position to protect the Great Lakes from an Enbridge catastrophe, but as an Enbridge board member he is responsible to Enbridge shareholders for making sure the company stops behaving badly," Holtz said.
    To read our full press release, which includes each request to Blanchard, click here.

    SIERRA CLUB FILES AMICUS BRIEF ON REVIEW OF PALISADES NUCLEAR REACTOR 

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    Palisade's Nuclear Plant sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. Photo by Sierra Club Nuclear Free.
    On August 7 the Sierra Club submitted an Amicus brief to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), joining the call for the agency to conduct a full evidentiary hearing on the unprecedented request by the owners of the Palisades Nuclear Power PlantEntergy, that they be exempted from federal safety regulations. Sierra Club is supporting the efforts of Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Michigan Safe Energy Future-Shoreline Chapter, and Nuclear Energy Information Service who petitioned the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel (ASLBP) to require a hearing on Palisades and its embrittled reactor.
    In a Memorandum and Order released on June 18th, the ASLB panel determined that the request from Entergy warranted a full evidentiary hearing. The Louisiana based owner of Palisades appealed the ASLB order to the NRC.
    The Palisades plant, located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Covert, MI, is one of the oldest nuclear power plants still operating in the world, and has the most embrittled reactor pressure vessel (RPV) in the United States. The RPV, which includes both the shroud that shields the rest of the plant and the environment from radioactive materials, and the reactor core where controlled nuclear reactions are used to generate electricity, faces significant deterioration and embrittlement from more than forty years of operation and exposure to radioactive materials. The Palisades' embrittled RPV poses the threat of a catastrophic rupture or breakdown.
    According to Mark Muhich, chairman of Sierra Club Nuclear Free Michigan, an RPV rupture "could kill thousands of western Michigan residents, ruin thousands of square miles of the best agricultural land in the state, and poison Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for millions of people." Sierra Club is represented by attorney Wallace Taylor of Iowa, who has worked with Sierra Club chapters around the nation on issues related to nuclear power safety.
    Our solar partners, McNaughton-McKay Electric Company, Solar Winds Power Supply and Michigan Solar Solutionsoffer their services by evaluating your home's solar capacity, educating the public on the benefits of solar power and providing expert installation of the customer's choice of solar array.
    Sales through our partnership provides for donations to the Michigan Chapter to support our work as well! Fill out our solar survey

    NEW ENERGY LEGISLATION COULD DESTROY SOLAR ENERGY IN MICHIGAN

    Senate Energy Committee Vice Chairman John Proos recently introduced a bill to rewrite Michigan's energy policy which could prevent people from using their own solar energy produced for their homes and businesses.
    Currently, small-scale solar projects are able to connect to the grid through Michigan's net metering program, allowing homes, businesses, and non-profits to use their own energy. Senate Bill 438 would essentially eliminate net metering, barring program participants under the new plan from using their own generated energy and instead force them to sell the energy back to utility companies for less than it is worth. We believe customers should have free will to use their own produced energy.
    The bill also repeals Michigan's renewable energy standard, eliminates our energy efficiency programs, and redefines clean energy to include polluting sources of energy such as natural gas, nuclear energy, and hazardous waste incineration.
    We need your help to stop this bill and get the legislature to pass policies that support sustainable energy sources like wind and solar. Click here to take action and tell your lawmakers to oppose this devastating legislation.

    STAND UP FOR STRONGER GREAT LAKES PROTECTION IN MICHIGAN

    The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Office of the Great Lakes released a 156-page draft of a Water Strategy in Junethat it calls "a roadmap to achieve a 30-year vision to ensure Michigan’s water resources support healthy ecosystems, citizens, communities and economies."
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    Sunset on Lake Michigan. Photo by Gail Philbin. 
     The document broadly addresses an array of water-related issues, from algal blooms and invasive species to infrastructure issues and the need for monitoring surface and groundwater. While the goal of a long-term approach to protecting our most precious resource is laudable, Sierra Club has serious concerns about the effectiveness of the state's Water Strategy given the voluntary nature of the measures it promotes. 
      "I am disappointed that the Water Strategy speaks to what government 'can' and 'should' do versus what it WILL do to protect waters within the Great Lakes Basin," says Erma Leaphart, Conservation Organizer for the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program. "I respect and agree that people of Michigan have a role to play but the State of Michigan must take a leadership role starting with creating a stronger vision statement, establishing or adopting specific identified impactful goals and data driven solutions."
    If you want the Great Lakes State to take the lead on meaningful Great Lakes stewardship, make your voice heard:
    • Read the Water Strategy here
    • Send your written comments by Aug. 28 to the Office of the Great Lakes, DEQ, P.O. Box 30473-7973, Lansing, Michigan 48909, by fax at 517-335-4053 or by emailing Mi-waterstrategy@michigan.gov.   
    • Or click here to send a message by Aug. 28. 

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    A camper completes the high ropes course. Photo by Sierra Club.

    LAST DAY TO REGISTER FOR ANNUAL RETREAT

    This year's Annual Retreat is less than a week away but you can still register online today and tomorrow! The weekend includes a packed schedule of recreational and educational activities, which can be tailored to you and your family's interests. The affordable weekend getaway offers hiking, tubing and boating (to name a few).
    The sandy beaches and dunes along the coastline of Lake Michigan offer a unique escape and breathtaking panoramic views that everyone can appreciate. Keynote speakers and presenters will offer insight on important ways to protect Michigan's environment in creative ways that are sure to engage all campers.
    Don't miss out on the unique opportunity to spend a weekend with those who love the environment, while also enjoying the natural beauty our state offers.
    TO REGISTER FOR THE ANNUAL RETREAT TODAY OR TOMORROW ONLY, CLICK HERE. 

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    Photo from New York Sierra Club.

    LET'S BAN FRACKING IN MICHIGAN

    Do you believe we can do better than polluting our water and air by allowing fracking for natural gas and oil?
    Hundreds of Michiganders are currently collecting petition signatures to put the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan's ballot proposal onto the November 2016 ballot. YOU can help ensure that Michigan voters have a say on whether:
    • Michigan continues to allow radioactive wastes from fracking in other states to be disposed of in Michigan landfills;
    • Michigan continues to allow the use of fracking by oil and gas developers, with the air and water quality contamination it can cause; and
    • Michigan overturns its policy favoring the maximum production of oil and gasover protection of the environment and public health. 
    Join us in circulating the ballot petition for the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan! You can make a big difference by collecting signatures in your own community or beyond. Time is short and there is a lot of work to do, so please join with Sierra Club in supporting this petition drive!
    Sign up here and you'll hear from our Campaign Coordinators, Craig Brainard or John Ford, within a few days with details about how Sierra Club is supporting this effort. You can also go to the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan's website to register and get training on how to collect petitions. Be sure to let them know that Sierra Club referred you at the bottom of the volunteer sign up sheet!
    Contact Craig Brainard or John Ford for more information about Sierra Club's work to end fracking, and to get involved in the ballot petition drive. Paid for with regulated funds by the Sierra Club Committee to Make Michigan Safe from Fracking, 109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906.

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    (L to R): Anne Woiwode, State Representative John Kivela, Robert Gordon and Tim Minotas on Michigan Sierra Club Lobby Day.

    A FOND FAREWELL TO OUR TWO-YEAR INTERN

    This fall, our Legislative Intern Tim Minotas is heading back to Central Michigan University to finish his degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies and lead the Student Environmental Alliance on campus.
    Tim spent a year as a chapter Political Intern working on campaigns for Sierra Club's endorsed candidates in Oakland County and Mt. Pleasant.

    As our Legislative Intern, he helped organize our Spring Citizen Lobby Day, a political fundraiser, and was our eyes and ears at the capitol. Thanks to Tim for all his hard work over the past two years.
    Interested in being a legislative and political activist like Tim? Learn more information here.

    EXPLORE AND ENJOY! IARGO SPRINGS

    Sierra Club is committed to "exploring, enjoying and protecting the planet." The Michigan Chapter Update includes features on exploring and enjoying places in Michigan. In this edition, Becky Hammond writes about the Iargo Springs, located on the Au Sable River in the Huron Manistee National Forest, which host a wide range of wildlife and offer breathtaking views. 
    Family of Ducks
    A family of ducks. Photo by Becky Hammond.
    If you've driven along the River Road National Scenic Byway that parallels the Au Sable River as it heads to Lake Huron and (as I did for years) skippedIargo Springs in favor of the Lumberman's Monument (or any other scenic overlook; they abound there), you need to put the springs on your to-do list. Like so many Michigan attractions, they are wonderful and there are many other things to do nearby.
    Iargo Springs changed the word "spring" for me forever. These are not seeps or even streams trickling out of hillsides, these are almost waterfalls that pour out, some held in manmade pools, all eventually winding and criss-crossing the forest floor until finding their way to the dammed-up part of the Au Sable known as Cooke Pond. To call the water "crystal clear" is to redefine that term.And the springs and streams go on and on, visible from a network of boardwalks that branch out after you descend a long flight of stairs (300 or so). Cooke Pond is the kind of marshy backwater at that point that waterfowllove. Take your camera. It would make a great early-morning paddle. Late May provided a viewing gallery of mergansers, geese, swans, all with young.
    Iargo springs was, and is, a holy place to Native Americans, with the water considered to have medicinal value. Just being there feels holy, walking around seems to have medicinal value. The spot is the trailhead for the seven-mile Highbanks Trail. It's close enough to Oscoda for a meal and drink afterwards, close enough to Lake Huron for a swim.
    Join Sierra Club members on Outings, including hikes, camping, and paddling adventures across the state of Michigan and beyond. Find out more about Michigan Chapter and Group Outings here by scrolling down to the calendar. 
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    We welcome feedback on the Michigan Chapter Update - Contact us at michigan.chapter@sierraclub.org.  

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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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