Dec 14, 2014

Southeast Michigan's Natural Gas and Oil Pipeline Boom: What's happening and How to have your Say

Proposed natural gas pipelines in SE Michigan will cause as many local impacts as the replacement of the Enbridge Line 6B oil pipeline (above) and keep pushing fossil fuels, instead of clean energy alternatives. Photo by Ron Kardos
Southeastern Michigan communities have been confronting at least three proposed new or expanded massive natural gas pipelines designed to move Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio fracked natural gas into and through Michigan to Ontario. Sierra Club opposes the massive ramp up in natural gas development around the nation through fracking that is one driver of these new pipeline proposals because the drilling, extraction and leakage in delivering this fossil fuel falls far short of being the "clean energy" the industry wants you to think it is. In addition, the construction of massive pipelines like these cause significant local environmental impacts as well.

Sierra Club leaders in the Michigan Chapter's Huron Valley, Crossroads, Nepessing and Southeast Michigan Groups are stepping up to the plate to fight pipelines and they encourage your engagement as well. Scroll down to find contacts for each of these four Groups who can help connect you with the fight in your area.  We also encourage you to sign up below so that we can follow up with you as each project develops.  These proposals are moving fairly fast, but there is time to weigh in now on at least one of the projects.

Three Natural Gas Pipelines Proposed:

Imagine a swoosh like the Nike logo aound the western end of Lake Erie and you'll have an idea of the maps showing three different proposed natural gas pipelines.  The proposed pipelines are the ET Rover Pipeline, the Nexus Pipeline (a partnership of DTE Energy, Enbridge Inc. and Spectra Energy) and the Utopia Project.  Each pipeline would start in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania or West Virginia, cross Ohio and Michigan before crossing the international border to enter Ontario, Canada.  Each project provides information on the links provided above including maps of the intended path.  But as has already been seen with the ET Rover project, the proposed location of the pipeline may be changed.  There are several critical hurdles for any additional construction of these pipelines, which include: acquisition of rights of way from private or public landowners; local permitting approvals if warranted; and approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which must follow the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), in particular by provide for a public environmental review process.

Public Input Opportunities on the ET Rover Pipeline 

Currently, attention is focused on the ET Rover Pipeline which wants to build a new pipeline up to 42 inches in diameter from Defiance, Ohio, through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.  The company is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to weigh whether there are better alternatives to this proposal and whether the environmental impacts are too great to authorize the requested permits.
The first step in the EIS process for ET Rover is for FERC to take public comment under the Scoping Process.  Scoping is an initial step in the EIS in which the public needs to raise questions, concerns, provide information and other knowledge that ensures that the agency considers all the questions that need to be addressed.  The comments can be broad, such as this EIS needs to fully consider impacts of climate change related to the increased use of natural gas connected to increasing delivery of natural gas to Michigan and Ontario.  Or these comments can be very localized, for example indentifying sensitive ecosystems or raising specific, local health concerns. Most important is for ALL concerns or questions to be raised now, or they may not be considered in the EIS.  You don't need to be an expert to offer input, and asking questions about issues that concern you as part of your comments is just as valid as providing specific information in the Scoping Process.

Written Comments on ET Rover Scoping Process:
 The public can also provide  written public comments by December 18th through FERC's online comment system or through regular mail. Below are instructions on how to file a comment on the proposed ET Rover Pipeline with FERC. Filing just a written comment as an individual does not require you to register as a user.
  • Go to the FERC eComment website. (
  • Click on the eComment button, which takes you to an authorization page.
  • Enter your name and email address, and type in the “authorization” letters / numbers that appear.
  • Click on authorize.
  • FERC will send you an email. Click on the link in the email.
  • You should be taken to a page on the FERC website with your name and email filled in.
  • In the field for “Enter Docket Number” type PF14-14 (no spaces)
  • Click on the Search button.
  • Click on the blue cross in the far right column under the heading labelled “Select”
  • Enter up to 6000 characters in the box for editing a comment.
Provide written public comments by US Mail by sending your letter and 14 copies to arrive before December 18th to:
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E. Washington 20426


Sierra Club Contacts: 

Below you'll find Sierra Club volunteer leaders in each of the four regional Michigan Chapter Groups that are already tracking and working to stop the massive natural gas pipeline proposals coming through southeastern Michigan.  In addition and if you are outside of these Groups but wish to help, please provide us your information by linking below the contact info.  We'll do our best to keep you apprised of the new developments.
Nepessing Group (Genessee County, Lapeer County and Northwestern Oakland County)
Ellen Waara (ellenwaara (at)
Southeast Michigan Group (St. Clair County, Macomb County, part of Oakland and Wayne Counties)
Jean Gramlich (jeangramlich (at)
Crossroads Group (Livingston County and western Oakland County)
Ron Kardos  (rmichael (at)
Huron Valley Group (Washtenaw, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties)
Nancy Shiffler 

Dec 7, 2014

Lame-Duck Session Brings Lame Enviro Proposals

Michigan Chapter Update
December 7, 2014
In This Issue:
  • Lame Duck, Lame Environmental Proposals
  • Clean Energy Legislation Introduced, But Too Late for This Year
  • Concerned About Food, Ag, Animals? Then Save the Date: March 9, 2015!
  • Wayne County Exceeds Acceptable Levels of Sulfur Dioxide
  • Looking for a Few Good Volunteers to Work on Oil & Gas
  • Do You Have Design and Layout Expertise?
  • Join the Sierra Club or Give the Gift of Membership
  • Thank You!

Lame Duck, Lame Environmental Proposals

Detroit Incinerator polluting next to residential area.jpg
Pollution pours from an incinerator in Detroit. Legislation being considered in the lame-duck session in Lansing would allow the burning of old tires and solid waste to count as renewable energy.
Sierra Club is currently battling two lame environmental bills the Michigan legislature is entertaining during its lame-duck session. The first is HB 5205, which would classify the burning of solid waste as a form of renewable energy and allow for the construction of new incinerators. Sierra Club opposes this proposal because waste incineration does not produce clean energy -- it emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than any other form of electricity, greatly contributing to the negative consequences of climate change.
We're also fighting SB 910, which would prohibit the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from enforcing air pollution regulations on wood heaters. Unregulated wood heaters account for 13% of the country’s soot pollution and have major public health implications such as increased risk of heart disease, asthma, and lung disease.

On the positive side, we support SB 795-800 which would increase prison time and fines for illegally introducing prohibited, non-native aquatic species (like Asian Carp or Zebra/Quagga mussel) into Michigan's waters. We also like HB 5397, which would allow municipal utility providers to fund residential clean energy programs through on-bill payments. This legislation is crucial to helping homeowners to get financing for efficiency upgrades and renewable energy projects.
Let your elected officials know how you feel about these four environmental proposals! Please take a moment to look up your State Senator and State Representative. Have questions or want to get involved? Contact Anne Woiwode at or 517-484-2372 x 11.

Clean Energy Legislation Introduced, But Too Late for This Year

Wind Turbines and Vinyards in Mason County
Three bipartisan bills to expand Michigan’s 2008 renewable energy and energy efficiency laws were introduced in November, just as the legislature entered its lame-duck session. The current law, which expires next year, mandates that electricity providers meet a 10% renewable energy requirement, and that electric and natural gas utilities achieve annual energy optimization standards. The bills, HB 5967(Schmidt), 5968 (Dianda) and 5969 (VerHuelen), are expected to be reintroduced in the 2015 legislative session.

Sierra Club welcomes the long overdue debate on renewing and expanding the current clean energy laws, particularly because legislation under debate this year would gut the current laws. However, there are concerns that this package falls short on several counts. For example HB 5968 sets a strong but voluntary goal (unlike the 2008 law) for Michigan’s electric utilities to increase renewable energy by 1.5% per year in their generation portfolio. 

“Michigan families from Ironwood to Monroe need Lansing to work as fast as possible to move our state beyond fossil fuels to protect health and fight climate change,” said Michigan Chapter Chair David Holtz.  “It's time to hold utilities like DTE and Consumers Energy accountable to what our state really needs--a clean energy future fueled by renewable energy.” 

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Watch this space for details about "Farming Our Future: The Forces and Faces of 21st Century Agriculture," a conference presented by Less=More on March 9, 2015.

Concerned About Food, Ag, Animals? Then Save the Date: March 9, 2015

A groundbreaking conference exploring the political, legal, and historical forces that shape farming in Michigan today and how to chart a path to a more sustainable food system takes place March 9, 2015 on the campus of Michigan State University during MSU’s historic Agriculture and Natural Resources Week.
Presented by the Less=More Coalition, Farming Our Future: The Forces and Faces of 21st Century Agriculture will channel diverse national, regional and local conversations about the environmental, economic and social impacts of modern agriculture into a comprehensive forum to facilitate joint efforts to build a better food system.
Look for more details in this e-newsletter and on the Less=More Twitter feed @MoreforMichigan and on the Less=More Facebook page at:

Wayne County Exceeds Acceptable Levels of Sulfur Dioxide

Coal Plants Add to SE Michigan's Sulfur Dioxide Pollution
Wayne County is experiencing a crisis in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, a powerful pollutant that comes from coal plants and other sources that reacts with nitrogen oxide to create acid rain and can cause or aggravate health issues. People with cardiovascular disease or chronic lung disease, as well as children and the elderly, are most likely to suffer from health problems linked to elevated sulfur dioxide levels.
Wayne County is the only county in Michigan to be designated as having SO2 levels that exceed what is considered acceptable. The Michigan Department of Environment Quality (MDEQ) is working to bring the levels under control, but the process, which requires a public hearing, has been delayed by months from its projected date already. Sierra Club is tracking the MDEQ as it develops a plan to ensure it includes a solution that addresses the heart of the problem -- 85% of all sulfur dioxide emissions in Wayne County come from three DTE Energy facilities, two of which are coal plants.
A transition to cleaner energy is the only way to help ensure clean air for Wayne County residents. Click here to learn more.

Oct 10, 2014

Benishek Says His Medical Background Qualifies Him To Deny Climate Change, AMA Disagrees

Tell Benishek to keep up to date on the medical literature!

GOP Congressman [Dan Benishek] Says His Medical Background Qualifies Him To Deny Climate Change
Shadee Ashtari
Posted: 10/09/2014 3:36 pm EDT Updated: 10/09/2014 3:59 pm EDT
Dan Benishek

While more and more Republican candidates evade the questions about climate change by claiming they’re “not a scientist,” Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) says his medical background qualifies him to reject the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that emissions from human activity are causing the planet to heat up.

More ...

Health is inextricably linked to climate change
Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities for Global Health
American Medical Association Special Communication | September  22, 2014 
Jonathan A. Patz, MD, MPH; Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH; Tracey Holloway, PhD; Daniel J. Vimont, PhD; Andrew Haines, MBBS, MD
JAMA. Published online September 22, 2014.

Health is inextricably linked to climate change. It is important for clinicians to understand this relationship in order to discuss associated health risks with their patients and to inform public policy.

Sep 10, 2014

Save Michigan Wolves From Being Hunted

posted  by 

Fans of “Teen Wolf” have many opportunities to help real wolves, including the wolves in Michigan, who came back from near extinction and are now about to be hunted.
“The simple fact of the matter is, we’re having a wolf hunt because people want to hunt wolves,” said Marvin Roberson, a staff forest ecologist with the Michigan Sierra Club. “There’s no scientific reason to hunt wolves. They’re an endangered species success story. They’ve come back from zero in Michigan over the past 25 years to 650 or so.”
Marvin said wolves haven’t killed any people in Michigan, and in fact more Michiganders have been injured by hamsters than wolves. It was made-up stories against wolves that got all this going in the first place.
More ....

Meat Matters Webinars: Meat, Livestock & Human Health

Register for all four. Attend the ones you can.

With the global meat-eating explosion, meat production can’t be far behind. The U.S. currently produces more than 9 food billion animals — and their manure — for meat each year. Federal officials are thinking about where meat fits into revamped dietary advice for Americans. Nutrition aside, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are asking where meat production and consumption fit into the notion of sustainability; there are huge amounts of manure, water, antibiotics, hormones and energy involved. In short, meat matters. How much meat to eat, and what kind? It affects your health, the public’s health and to the environment we all share.
1) September 15, 2014 12pm ET/9am PT   Meat Racket 
In his new book, Meat Racket, investigative reporter Christopher Leonard adds to the public spotlight on why meat (and who produces it) matters. Dr. Michael Greger, physician-host of Nutrition Facts, and staff scientist at the Humane Society of the United States, explores why a meat industry that treats food animals well could also better serve public health. Moderating is Bob Martin,  director of the Food System Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and former director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.

2) October 23, 2014, 1 pm ET/10am PT.  Food Day Special:  The 21st Century Jungle. The U.S. produces over 9 billion food animals annually, but meat factories, slaughterhouses and packing plants remain invisible to most. (In several states, it’s illegal to document and show what's happening inside.) Conditions within these facilities are critical to public health, food safety, and of course the health of workers. Updating the lessons Upton Sinclair’s classic, The Jungle, is Ted Genoways’ new book, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food. Join the conversation with Ted Genoways and Joann Lo, Executive Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, moderated by Keeve Nachman, PhD, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future's Food Production and Public Health Program.

3) December 4, 2014, 1pm ET/10am PT   What Meat to Eat
What we eat has rippling effects beyond our own health. For the first time, experts advising the USDA on the newest (2015) version of its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are considering the sustainability of the American diet. That’s also on the agenda for Menus of Change, a joint effort of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America.  Author, physician and nutrition expert, Walter Willett, MD, MPH, presents. Roni Neff, PhDDirector of the Food System Sustainability Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and editor of Introduction to the U.S. Food System, discusses sustainability and the Dietary Guidelines.  Hugh Joseph, PhD of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University will moderate. 

4) January 2015.  Cultivating Health. 
Our gut bacteria shape our health. Dr. Martin Blaser, past president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), explains the connection highlighted in his recent book  Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern PlaguesDr. Lance Price, public health professor at George Washington University, explores the contribution of industrial meat production, including its reliance on antibiotics. IDSA cosponsors. 

REGISTER TODAYContact for more information or sponsorship opportunities.