Jan 29, 2016

A Message from Sierra Club on the Flint Water Crisis


The man-made drinking water crisis in Flint has made international headlines. For more than a year, state officials -- from Gov. Snyder to his appointed Flint emergency managers to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality -- exposed an entire city to the risk of lead poisoning in their drinking water. It's a public health catastrophe with long-lasting consequences for the children under the age of six in Flint who will suffer neurological damage for the rest of their lives.

Sierra Club has been working to help the people of Flint but we need to do more.  Another organization doing good work in the city is the Genesee County Hispanic/Latino Collaborativewhich is focusing on Flint's immigrant community, making sure that undocumented people have access to clean water, filters, and information. But they need financial support and volunteers.  If you can make a donation or a commitment of time, please consider contacting them today and offering them your support.

In the midst of this catastrophe, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter has been working to help in these ways:

  • We oppose charging Flint residents for poisoned water, so we are keeping pressure on Gov. Snyder. The state--not Flint residents--should be paying for water poisoned by actions of the state.
     
  • We are working with EPA Region 5 Acting Director Bob Kaplan to ensure that the EPA has support for implementing its emergency order requiring the state to act swiftly in restoring safe drinking water for Flint's residents, including replacing the city's dangerous lead pipes. Early on, we wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting a Flint investigation. Within a few days of that letter, the EPA announced it would investigate, including assessing the actions of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
     
  • Our Chapter Executive Committee appointed a former member of the EPA's national Safe Drinking Water Advisory Council, Cyndi Roper, to be the Chapter's volunteer representative on safe drinking water issues. It's clear we need to strengthen federal safe drinking water laws so fewer people--especially those in older communities with aging infrastructure--are exposed to lead.
     
  • We have submitted comments to the EPA on a proposed new lead and copper drinking water rule and will continue to advocate for better laws and more infrastructure funding.
     
  • Chapter staff and volunteers participated in a massive protest at the governor's State of the State address and issued a public statement on the situation in Flint.
     
  • Our volunteer leaders met with the national president of Sierra Club, Aaron Mair, and came away with a strong commitment of support for Flint. President Mair also personally contributed $1,500 to help organizing efforts in the city.
     
  • Our local Nepessing Group of Flint area volunteers has conducted public presentations explaining the Flint situation, distributing water and finding ways to recycle many single-use plastic bottles.

Our focus is on helping the people of Flint and holding the Snyder administration accountable for restoring safe drinking water to this struggling community. 

###

Gail Philbin, Director
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/SierraClubMichigan
Twitter: @MichiganSierra


Dec 3, 2015

TAKE ACTION: Tell Senate Energy Committee Members to Vote for Clean Energy

The Senate Energy and Technology Committee is reviewing Michigan's energy laws RIGHT NOW! 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 Senators on the Energy Committee and tell them to vote in support of renewable energy and efficiency:



Senate

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

Mid-Michigan

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


Please share this link with anyone who might be willing to help! [http://sierraclubmichiganaction.blogspot.com/2015/12/take-action-tell-senate-energy.html]

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





Talking Points 
[this is your main message to lawmakers]

Vote No on Senate Bills 437 and 438.
Here is want I want to see in Michigan's next energy policy:
-Increase Michigan's renewable energy standard (not an unenforceable goal) to 30% by 2030.
-Increase Michigan's energy efficiency/optimization standard from 1% to 2% annually.
-Remove the existing spending cap on Michigan's energy efficiency program.
-Ensure that "clean" or "renewable" energy is not redefined to include any fossil fuels, nuclear energy, or energy from incinerating wastes.
-Ensure that customers are able to produce their own energy and are allowed to either use that energy themselves or sell it back to a utility company at full price, not a wholesale price.
-Enable everyone to participate in community renewable energy projects.


 
Sierra Club's stance on Proposed Legislation

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 437-438 (Mike Nofs, 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 4297-4298 (Aric Nesbitt):
 replace renewable energy/efficiency mandates with an Integrated Resource Planning process, establish an unenforceable 30% renewable/efficiency goal, and remove sustainability criteria for wood/tree biomass.



Background Information


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]


1MPSC Report on the Implementation of PA 295, February, 2015 and “Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions – Renewable Energy”, September 2013, http://michigan.gov/documents/energy/re-execsumm-draft_434479_7.pdf
2ACEEE http://aceee.org/blog/2014/12/irp-vs-eers-there%E2%80%99s-one-clear-winner-
3International Monetary Fund http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2015/NEW070215A.htm and Harvard Study on the Life Cycle Cost of Coal http://www.chgeharvard.org/sites/default/files/epstein_full%20cost%20of%20coal.pdf
4Michigan Environmental Council Report of Public Health Impacts of Coal-Fired Plants in Michigan, 2011

5US Environmental Protection Agency Website
6ACEEE http://www.mwalliance.org/sites/default/files/uploads/ACEEE_2010_Kushler%20Presentation%20MI%20TLR%20October%202010.pdf
7US Energy Information Website

Nov 19, 2015

Take Action: Tell Your Representative to Vote NO on Destructive Energy Legislation!

Instructions
1) Click here and put your address into the "Find a Representative" form to find out who your state Representative is.
2) Review our talking points (below).
3) Click here to find your state Representative's office phone number.
4) Call your state Representative's office and use the talking points to tell them: vote NO on House Bill 4297 and 4298.

Talking Points
I urge you to vote NO on HB 4297-4298 (sponsored by Rep. Aric Nesbitt). These bills replace Michigan's renewable energy/efficiency mandates with an Integrated Resource Planning process, establish an unenforceable 30% renewable/efficiency goal, and remove sustainability criteria for wood/tree biomass energy. I oppose this legislation because it would keep our electric grid powered by dirty, polluting, and unsustainable fossil fuels. It would also install a planning process that provides minimal accountability and oversight of major utility companies.

I want Michigan to hold utility companies accountable and require them to invest in renewable energy and efficiency. The unenforceable goal and toothless Integrated Resource Planning process in HB 4297-4298 will not accomplish this.

Here is want I want to see in Michigan's next energy policy:
-Increase Michigan's renewable energy standard (not an unenforceable goal) to 30% by 2030.
-Increase Michigan's energy efficiency/optimization standard from 1% to 2% annually.
-Remove the existing spending cap on Michigan's energy efficiency program.
-Ensure that "clean" or "renewable" energy is not redefined to include any fossil fuels, nuclear energy, or energy from incinerating wastes.
-Ensure that customers are able to produce their own energy and are allowed to either use that energy themselves or sell it back to a utility company at full price, not a wholesale price.
-Enable everyone to participate in community renewable energy projects.

Please vote NO on HB 4297-4298 in order to support clean air, clean water and clean energy.

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
5:00-6:30pm
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