Sep 29, 2015

Oct, 1, Sustainable Practices in a Michigan City

Mayor George Heartwell will talk about challenges and successes of implementing sustainable practices within the City of Grand Rapids.
Free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Rackham Amphitheatre, 915 E. Washington St.

This event is hosted by Program in the Environment (PitE) and co-sponsored by Graham Sustainability Institute; Center for Local, State, & Urban Policy (CLOSUP), Ford School; Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; Environmental Law and Policy Program; Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute

Aug 21, 2015

Deep Well Injection in Michigan: Deepening Our Understanding and Exploring What We Can Do About It

Injection well
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has received applications for permits for deep well injection activity in more than a dozen counties. Is your county one of them? What does it mean for you and your family? Find out at our workshop Sep. 26!
What do you know about deep injection wells in Michigan? If the answer is "not much," then please consider joining us on Sep. 26 at Alma College for an important workshop about the environmental risks this activity (taking place in counties around the state) poses to our water quality and environment. 
WHATDeep Well Injection in Michigan: Deepening Our Understanding and Exploring What We Can Do About It
WHEN: Sat., Sep 26, 10am - 2pm
WHERE: Alma College, 614 W. Superior St., Alma; Room L4 of the DOW/KAPP Bldg.
Permits for injection wells containing hazardous substances posing a serious threat to water quality are increasing in Michigan, yet most people including local public officials know little about them. In an effort to educate Michigan citizens and local governments, Sierra Club has paired with Grobbel Environmental & Planning Associates to present a workshop on about the history, purpose and risks of injection wells in Michigan. 
Christopher P. Grobbel, PhD, is an environmental consultant based in Traverse City and  MSU professor of environmental planning and management, environmental impact assessment, environmental law, and sustainability studies. 
Christopher P. Grobbel, PhD, will present "Deep Well Injection in Michigan: Deepening Our Understanding and Exploring What We Can Do About It" on Saturday, Sep. 26, from 10am - 2pm at Alma College, 614 W. Superior St. The event takes place in Room L4 of the DOW/KAPP building. 
Grobbel will lay out the context for this activity in Michigan and then explore the environmental risk associated with it and how the public can get involved in the process. Grobbel's presentation will cover the history and regulatory framework of injections wells, the technology and geology involved in Michigan, and dangers such as spills and seismic activity.  
On or before Sep. 18: $25 general public/$15 students (with ID). The cost covers lunch and all conference materials.
After Sep. 18: $35 for the general public; $20 for studentsFinal registration deadline is Sep. 25. No walk-ins. 

Jul 29, 2015

Sierra Club Seeking Communication Internship Applicants

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Communications Internship

What is the Sierra Club?
The Sierra Club's members and supporters are more than 2.4 million of your friends and neighbors.  Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. Founded in 1892, the Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Our mission is to: (1) Explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; (2) Practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; (3) Educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and (4) Use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

Internship Responsibilities
In this internship, you will directly assist the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter staff in communicating to our members, the public and the media with a focus on environmental advocacy. Potential responsibilities include helping plan the Sierra Club’s online newsletter, tracking media hits, maintaining media email contact lists, writing articles about environmental topics, managing social media accounts, preparing social media reports for the chapter’s Executive Committee, website support, drafting press releases, helping create educational presentations, organizing events, assisting with public outreach, working with Sierra Club volunteers to carry out environmental campaign priorities, research, data entry and office work as needed.

The ideal applicant will have good writing and research skills, a knowledge or interest in environmental issues,
a knowledge or interest in communication and social media, and be proficient in Microsoft Office applications and Google Documents.  They will be able to take direction on projects and work independently.

Internship positions are available for spring (January-May), summer (May-August), and fall (August-December) semesters, and can be shortened or extended as needed. This internship is unpaid, but can earn you class credit. The internship is housed in our Lansing office, located at 109 E. Grand River Ave. Lansing, MI 48906. Internships can be arranged for between 15 to 25 hours per week, with flexible scheduling, primarily during business hours (9am-6pm).

To apply, send resume to and, with a brief (one-two paragraphs) statement describing your interest in this internship.

Mike Berkowitz
Legislative & Political Director
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

109 E. Grand River Ave.
Lansing, MI 48906

Office: (517) 484-2372 Ext. 13 

Jun 23, 2015

TAKE ACTION: Tell Legislators to Vote for Clean Energy

The House and Senate Energy Policy Committees are reviewing Michigan's energy laws this fall. Will they decide to double down on dirty coal, fracked natural gas, nuclear and other polluting sources or will they move boldly toward a clean energy future? We have a chance to get more renewable energy and efficiency built into Michigan's energy policy but we need your help to make this happen.

PLEASE review the talking points below, and then call any of these State Representatives and Senators on the Energy Committees and tell them to vote in support of renewable energy and efficiency:


Committee Leadership
Sen. Mike Noffs (R-Battle Creek) Committee Chair, (517) 373-2426
Sen. John Proos (R-St. Joseph) Majority Vice-Chair, (517) 373-6960
Sen. Hon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) Minority Vice-Chair (517) 373-7800

Southeast Michigan

Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg) (517) 373-2420
Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Monroe) (517) 373-3543
Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) (517) 373-0994
Sen. Steven Bieda (D-Warren) (517) 373-8360


Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) (517) 373-1760
Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Hillsdale) (517) 373-5932

West Michigan

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) (517) 373-0793


Committee Leadership
Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) Committee Chair, (517) 373-0839
Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland) Majority Vice-Chair, (517) 373-1791
Rep. Bill LaVoy (D-Monroe) Minority Vice-Chair (517) 373-1530

Southeast Michigan

Rep. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit) (517) 373-0144
Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) (517) 373-2276
Rep. Derek Miller (D-Warren) (517) 373-1772
Rep. Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) (517) 373-0849
Rep. Robert Kosowski (D-Westland) (517) 373-2576
Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Clayton) (517) 373-2617
Rep. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) (517) 373-1773
Rep. Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser) (517) 373-0159
Rep. Bradford Jacobsen (R-Oxford) (517) 373-1798
Rep. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp) (517) 373-0843


Rep. Tom Barrett (R-Grand Ledge) (517) 373-0853
Rep. Brett Roberts (R-Clark Lake) (517) 373-1775
Rep. Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes) (517) 373-0834

West Michigan

Rep. Holly Hughes (R-Montague) (517) 373-3436
Rep. David Maturen (R-Marshall) (517) 373-1787

Northern Michigan

Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) (517) 373-0850
Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette) (517) 373-0498
Rep. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) (517) 373-0156
Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) (517) 373-0833
Rep. Triston Cole (R-Kewadin) (517) 373-0829

Please share this link with anyone who might be willing to help!

Thank you,

Mike Berkowitz
Legislative & Political Director
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

109 E. Grand River Ave.
Lansing, MI 48906
Office: (517) 484-2372 Ext. 13 
Cell: (248) 345-9808

Sierra Club's Clean Energy Talking Points

Support the Powering Michigan's Future legislation SB 295-297 and HB 4518-4519, HB 4055: increase Michigan’s renewable energy standard to 20% by 2022, gradually increase the energy optimization standard until reaching 2% annually in 2019 for electricity and 1.5% for natural gas, and eliminate the renewable energy surcharge.
Bill sponsors: Hoon-Yung Hopgood, David Knezek, Sam Singh, Marcia Hovey-Wright, Julie Plawecki.

Support the Bipartisan Energy Freedom legislation HB 4878-4881: remove barriers for businesses and individuals to generate their own energy and receive fair-value pricing. Enable community energy projects.
Bill sponsors: Gary Glenn, Ed McBroom, Scott Dianda, Jeff Irwin

Oppose SB 438 (John Proos): sunset Michigan’s Energy Optimization standard in 2019, repeal Michigan’s Renewable Energy Standard, establish a definition for “clean energy” that includes polluting fossil fuels, implement a voluntary green pricing program, eliminate net metering, destroy the distributed energy market, and replace standards with an Integrated Resource Planning process.

Oppose HB 4297 (Aric Nesbitt): sunset Michigan’s Energy Optimization standard, add solid waste incineration and pumped storage to the definition of Renewable Energy, and remove sustainability criteria for wood/tree biomass, replace standards with an Integrated Resource Planning process.

In 2008, the Michigan Legislature passed the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act (Public Act 295).
· The law put in place a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that requires Michigan’s utility companies to generate 10% of their electricity from clean and renewable sources by 2015.
· The law also created an Energy Efficiency Program which requires Michigan’s utility companies to help their customers use energy more efficiently by 1% every year.

PA 295 of 2008 has been an unparalleled success, but we need to do more.
· Since 2008 we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the cost of renewable energy, with the latest wind energy contracts coming in at less than half the cost of new coal and competitive with natural gas.[1]
· All major utility companies in Michigan have met the 10% renewable energy goal and 1% efficiency goal and have reduced/eliminated surcharges to pay for it. Despite overwhelming success, utility companies are pushing to end these standards and replace them with an Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process. States with an IRP but no RES or efficiency standard always result in less renewable energy and efficiency than states with standards.[2]
· Michigan’s Energy Efficiency program has provided the cheapest source of new power (over 6 times cheaper than coal) by shaving off demand for energy. For every $1 invested in energy efficiency, customers are saving more than $3.55.1 However, a spending cap in the 2008 law on the energy efficiency program prevents utilities from meeting their full customers’ demand.
· According to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) 2013 report, Michigan could achieve a RES of 30% without technical difficulties or increased costs.[1]
· PA 295 defined renewable energy to include solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, and landfill gas.

Using more renewable energy and energy efficiency will reduce pollution, mitigate climate change, and give Michigan cleaner air and water.
· Fossil fuels create $523 billion of domestic public health and environmental costs annually and also receive over $500 billion in annual subsidies from our government.[3]
· Increasing our use of renewable energy and energy efficiency will give us cleaner air, protect our Great Lakes, reduce illness, and save lives.
· Michigan’s coal plants emit dangerous levels of toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic and chromium. Coal plant pollution also triggers 68,000 asthma attacks and causes 180 premature deaths every year in Michigan.[4]
· Coal plants are the biggest point-source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, exacerbating climate disruption.[5]
· Natural gas is not an acceptable alternative because Fracking threatens our water and the extraction/pipeline process releases methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas emission.[5]

Increasing Michigan’s use of renewable energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and spark investment in our state.
· Renewable energy and efficiency are strong economic drivers, attracting investment and creating jobs that can’t be shipped out of state or overseas.
· Expanding our use of clean energy will build on our manufacturing strength and will allow us to retool and reopen closed manufacturing facilities.
· Michigan currently spends $24 billion per year importing fuel into the state.[6] 100% of our fuel for coal and nuclear power comes from out-of-state, 99% of our petroleum, and 80% of our natural gas as well.[7]
· Solar, wind and energy efficiency have no fuel costs and don’t send our money out of state.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency help rein in rising energy costs.
· Moving to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency will make electricity costs more affordable for Michigan families, who recently experienced double-digit rate increases because of the state’s reliance on coal, nuclear and natural gas imported from other states.
· Renewable energy costs less than all other forms of energy. While the costs of new coal and nuclear energy range from $108-$133 per MWh and natural gas averages $67 per MWh, wind energy costs between $43-59 per MWh, while energy efficiency costs $11 per MWh.[1]

Sierra Club’s Recommendations [this is your main message to lawmakers]
· The Legislature should increase Michigan’s RES to 30% by 2030 and increase its efficiency standard to 2% annually. This would combat subsidies/costs of fossil fuels and promote meaningful progress in climate change mitigation.
· The legislature should ensure that customers are able to produce their own energy and sell it at full price.
· The legislature should enable everyone to participate in community renewable energy projects.
· The legislature should not weaken the definition of renewable/clean energy. Fossil fuels, nuclear energy, waste incineration, and pumped storage are not renewable energy sources. Energy sources that emit air pollution (including the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane), water pollution, and produce radioactive waste should not be considered “clean energy” in Michigan’s laws.

1MPSC Report on the Implementation of PA 295, February, 2015 and “Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions – Renewable Energy”, September 2013,
3International Monetary Fund and Harvard Study on the Life Cycle Cost of Coal
4Michigan Environmental Council Report of Public Health Impacts of Coal-Fired Plants in Michigan, 2011

5US Environmental Protection Agency Website
7US Energy Information Website