Michigan Chapter Update
July 19, 2015
In this Issue:
- Energy Legislation Prioritizes Corporate Polluters Over Michigan's Future
- Oil Pipeline Task Force Report Falls Short
- "Remember the Kalamazoo" July 25
- Spartan Sierrans Attend SPROG
- Register for Retreat, August 21-23 (And Help Support Scholarships!)
- NOAA Predicts Lake Erie Toxic Algae Bloom Will Be Worse Than 2014
- Free Download of "Earth Watchers" Youth Eco Sci-Fi on Kindle
- Explore and Enjoy: Tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula
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NEW ENERGY LEGISLATION PRIORITIZES CORPORATE POLLUTERS OVER MICHIGAN'S FUTURE
While the Legislature is on summer break, bills that would set our state back more than a decade on clean energy will have hearings in the Senate. Your voice is critical if Michiganders are going to increase clean, renewable and efficient energy in coming years!
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Mike Nofs and Senator John Proos recently introduced Senate Bills 437 and 438, which would drastically rewrite Michigan's energy policy, putting the interests of corporate polluters over people and our environment. The bills repeal Michigan's renewable energy standard, eliminate energy efficiency programs, and redefine clean energy to include polluting sources such as natural gas, nuclear energy and hazardous waste incineration. This legislation would also take away net metering, a key program that gives a fair return on the solar energy produced on electric customers' homes and businesses and fed into the grid.
We need your help to stop these bills and get the legislature to pass policies that support truly sustainable energy sources like wind and solar!
Click here to take action and tell your lawmakers to support strong clean energy legislation and oppose proposals that will take us backward!
STATE'S OIL PIPELINE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS FALL SHORT
The long awaited report of the Michigan
Petroleum Pipeline Task Force released last week offers the potential for
eventual relief from the threat of Enbridge’s pipelines through the Straits of
Mackinac, but they leave the Great Lakes, drinking water sources and northern
Michigan's tourist economy unacceptably vulnerable to a catastrophic pipeline
rupture through the Straits of Mackinac.
"If you believe these existing pipelines pose an immediate threat to the Great Lakes—and we do—these recommendations amount to a rearranging of deck chairs on Michigan's Titanic of oil pipelines, only worse: the threat of Enbridge's pipelines through the Straits is there for all to see," said Michigan Chapter Chair David Holtz. "What is needed—and needed now—is to shut down Line 5."
According to the report, "the Task Force believes the State has available legal tools to abate any immediate and actual threat of a spill from the Straits Pipelines," (page 57), however the Snyder Administration and Attorney General Bill Schuette are declining to use those tools to protect the Great Lakes at this time. Sierra Club and its partners in the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition (OWDM) note recommendations in the report could take years to implement and there is no public, transparent process proposed going forward.
The proposal to study alternatives to Enbridge Line 5 pipeline across the Straits of Mackinac was one positive recommendation, although the timing of this review has not been spelled out. The Task Force report provided recommendations for other petroleum pipelines that cross Michigan as well. Among the encouraging recommendations are calls for state agencies to collaborate on emergency preparedness and spill response, as well as for the state to establish larger civil fines.
"With the fifth anniversary of the Enbridge Line 6B break that devastated the Kalamazoo River and was the worst inland oil spill in US history looming just 11 days after the report's release, our state officials owe the people of Michigan quick action and transparency when it comes to the enormous threats posed by petroleum pipelines in our state," said Chapter Conservation Director Anne Woiwode. "There will be no excuse for any future, preventable pipeline oil spills and we are counting on our elected officials to act now to protect our future."
"REMEMBER THE KALAMAZOO" THIS SATURDAY, JULY 25
The Remember the Kalamazoo memorial event aims to remind us of the devastating
effects of the inland oil spill that shocked the nation five years
Taking place on Saturday, July 25, at the Burnham Brook Community Center in Battle Creek, the commemorative day will feature speakers from Battle Creek, Galesburg and Marshall, the communities most affected by the spill. The event will begin at 10 a.m., featuring workshops, keynote speakers and a healing walk.
The breach of Enbridge Line 6B spilled over 1,000,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, damaging surrounding communities' economy and destroying local biodiversity. The memorial day will offer training on how to prepare if a similar situation were to again occur. In addition, a workshop will focus on effective ways to resist the focus on oil profits over people and the environment, with special attention on the threat of increased oil transportation from Tar Sands. The closing of the event will feature a walk to the Kalamazoo River.
Students from around the Midwest gathered from July 7-12th to discuss the younger generation's role in mitigating climate change and demanding clean energy from their campuses. To learn more about the Sierra Student Coalition, click here.
SPARTAN SIERRA CLUB ATTENDS "SPROG"
The President and Vice-President of the Spartan Sierra Club, Michigan State's newest environmental group, attended this year's Midwest Sprog, a camp for future environmental leaders. The five-day grassroots training included canvassing for local environmental groups, workers' rights panels and discussions about energy and climate justice.
"Sprog was intense and opened my eyes to new energy issues," Spartan Sierra Club President Joe Kahn said. "It's more than an issue about the environment, it's about people."
The group's goals for the school year will focus on moving the campus to more renewable energy sources, as the shutdown of the T.B. Simon coal plant involves a controversial switch to natural gas. Their Seize the Grid campaign will push the MSU administration to demand greater renewable energy percentages from the campus' utility provider, Consumer's Energy. The group also hopes to make energy decisions on campus more democratic, allowing students to get involved in these important conversations.
For more information about the club's work, visit the Spartan Sierra Club Facebook page!
"EARTH WATCHERS" MIDDLE GRADE SCI-FI BOOK DOWNLOAD
Earth Watchers, a middle-grade eco-sci-fi fantasy novel by Lorraine Sigle, a Michigan Sierra Club member and supporter, is being released in various forms this summer. The book sprang from Lorraine's love of the environment and her concern about climate change. Currently, it's accessible via Kindle books or from your computer using the Kindle app. And, to celebrate the new release, it's being offered for FREE beginning today Sunday, July 19, through Thursday, July 23, to download for your kids', grandkids', or your own reading pleasure! Go to Lorraine's website for more details.
The hardcopy book will also be released this summer along with a Teacher's Guide that allows teachers to demonstrate how fiction and real environmental science combine, and it will contain a wide variety of science and math activities that address environmental themes to build student awareness of environmental issues, critical thinking and social responsibility.
SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS FOR ANNUAL RETREAT
The Annual Retreat Scholarship Fund will benefit families who cannot afford the Michigan Chapter's camp out on Lake Michigan. The goal of this year's retreat is to encourage Michigan residents to get outdoors and learn about the importance of protecting the environment, while spending time exploring the beautiful Camp Miniwanca.
Your funds can help inspire future environmental leaders who will work to explore, enjoy and protect the planet. Children will participate in nature scavenger hunts, hands-on wildlife presentations and hikes!
|DONATE HERE TO SUPPORT RETREAT SCHOLARSHIPS!|
|REGISTER HERE FOR THE CHAPTER ANNUAL RETREAT
AUGUST 21 - 23 at Camp Miniwanca or contact
Cecilia Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-484-2372 x 10
PREDICTION: LAKE ERIE TOXIC BLOOM WORSE THAN 2014
What do your tax dollars and Lake Erie's toxic
algae have in common? Factory farms! Your taxes
pay for them and the phosphorus-laden waste
they produce gets into our water systems and
fosters the growth of toxic algae. The Less=More
campaign seeks to end taxpayer-financed
subsidies to polluting factory farms and level the
playing field for sustainable livestock farms.
Learn more at www.MoreforMichigan.org.
And show your support of Less=More at
This summer's toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie was first spotted in mid-June, earlier than ever recorded. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now predicts 2015's toxicity will be worse than the bloom that poisoned drinking water for more than 400,000 people in and around Toledo in August 2014.
Phosphorus runoff from industrial agricultural operations in the Lake Erie watershed, including mega-dairies in southern Michigan, was identified as the main culprit of the drinking water crisis of 2014. In 2012 the state undertook developing a Michigan Water Strategy with the goal of ensuring "Michigan's water resources support a healthy environment, healthy citizens, vibrant communities and sustainable economies." The Strategy was released for public comment last month, setting a goal of achieving a 40 percent phosphorus reduction in western Lake Erie, but relying heavily on voluntary measures from agriculture in particular to solve the problem. To read the Michigan Chapter's initial comments on the water strategy, click here.
The state's strategy is doomed to fail without strong regulations for and enforcement of pollution rules such as a mandatory ban on application of livestock waste on frozen or snow-covered ground. But the state's history on this is poor. When the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) revised its permit for factory farms last year they refused to ban this polluting practice, opting instead to ask livestock operations to voluntarily comply. Such inaction by the state's environmental agency unfortunately ensures the Lake Erie phosphorus problem will persist.
You can share your concerns and thoughts about the proposed Michigan Water Strategy at public hearings this summer. Written comments are also being accepted until August 28th. Find out details about the locations of the hearings and how to submit comments here.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 7 p.m., Ann Arbor
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 7 p.m., Marquette
Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 7 p.m., Traverse City
Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 7 p.m., Grand Rapids
EXPLORE AND ENJOY: THE TIP OF THE KEWEENAW PENINSULA
Sierra Club is committed to "exploring, enjoying and protecting the planet." This issue of the Michigan Chapter Update includes a new feature on exploring and enjoying places in Michigan. In this edition Chapter Conservation Director Anne Woiwode shares a glimpse of one of her favorite areas in Michigan, the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
At the end of the road on the Keweenaw Peninsula, 600 miles from Detroit, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park gives visitors a base camp to enjoy one of the most spectacular and remote places in Michigan. For those of us who love the Keweenaw, driving any route north from Calumet to Copper Harbor is a thrill. Route 26 takes you along astonishing stretches of Lake Superior's rocky coastline, and a detour up Brockway Mountain gives you an unforgettable view on all sides.
Fort Wilkins itself features a restored 1844 military outpost and one of the first lighthouses on Lake Superior, with interpreters providing period re-enactments. Wooded campsites along Lake Fanny Hooe offer a quiet place to pitch your tent, enjoy a campfire, and plan your exploration of the Lake Superior shoreline, rugged terrain and communities nearby. Copper Harbor is close enough to easily bike into and enjoy the quirky, rustic community's restaurants and stores. The tiny village is also the jumping off point for the private ferry to Isle Royale National Park during the season, but reservations for the trip need to be made in advance.
Many fascinating natural features are in easy striking distance from Fort Wilkins and well worth it to explore. The Michigan Nature Association's Estivant Pines preserve is a magical place to spend an afternoon among towering old growth white pines. The Mary MacDonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor takes you back in geologic time. A short hike through a boreal forest to a cove on Lake Superior reveals ancient bedrock upthrust 600 million years ago. The sedimentary rock formations are connected to the same geology on Isle Royale and are continuing to slowly move upward thousands of years after the weight of the glaciers gave way to the Great Lakes.
A trip around the tip of the Keweenaw on the Mandan Road gives access to over 8,000 acres of Keweenaw Point state forest lands including the Montreal River, a gorgeous wild river that spills into Lake Superior on the south side of the peninsula through a spectacular waterfall. Continuing farther west on the south side of peninsula takes you to Bête Grise, a long, beautiful curving sandy beach and a nature preserve protecting what has been called the most important coastal plain marsh in the Upper Great Lakes.
A consistent theme in travels at the tip of the Keweenaw is how the love and vision of individuals has assured protection of extraordinarily important areas for future generations. As you enjoy this exceptional landscape, consider how you can contribute to ensuring the protection of these marvelous places! We'll help you figure it out.
Here are Some Great Ways to Support Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Get Engaged!
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