Michigan Activists Speak Out for Clean Energy
Last year there were hundreds of Sierra Club volunteer leaders who worked on Proposal 3, the state ballot initiative to increase Michigan's renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025. Unfortunately, after being outspent by big polluters by nearly five-to-one, Prop 3 lost. But election day polling showed that 73% of Michiganders support expanding renewable energy in Michigan. This got Governor Rick Snyder's attention and he tasked the Michigan Public Service Commission and Michigan Energy Office to lead a public dialogue on energy.
The results are seven regional forums - with five of them done so far. Sierra Club Michigan and a broad coalition of groups have turned out big crowds to these forums.
"These forums are the next step towards expanding our renewable electricity standard," said Tiffany Hartung, the conservation program manager for Sierra Club Michigan (pictured at the left). "We coordinated with our allies to send a strong message to the Governor that Michigan supports clean energy and we're ready to move forward. The hundreds of Sierra Club volunteers around the state who worked so hard on Prop 3 have been ready and waiting for the next opportunity to push for more renewable energy in Michigan."
Hartung said her chapter helped get such huge crowds to the hearings via email alerts, phone calls, post cards, and more. "But really, once folks heard about it they didn't need much more coaxing to come out and participate," she said.
So far, Hartung said, they've turned out more than 110 Sierra Club clean energy volunteers and a few state legislators to the forums, and the testimony at each has been overwhelmingly in support of clean energy and increased energy efficiency. They've even got video of the testimony - here are a few key testifiers!
Detroit hip hop artist and River Rouge Feed Da Streetz leader Douglas Myers talks about coal pollution's effect on his commnunity.
Sierra Club Michigan Political Chair Richard Barron testifies.
Sara Bonnette, a mom and fighter of the Bay City coal plant.
"As you can see from the videos of the testimony, the Sierra Club volunteers attending the forums know the facts and are not afraid to get up in front of a room full of 300 people to tell the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Michigan Energy Office what Michigan's energy future needs to look like," said Hartung.
In addition to the great testimony, volunteers are working tirelessly (including kids - those are some young forum attendees to the right there) to collect comments online and in person to submit into the record at these events. Hartung said they submitted 5,000 comments last week alone! Some 11 Sierra Club volunteers have already penned letters to the editor of their local newspapers as well.
Hartung said the people who deserve kudos for their work on these forums include Brad VanGuilder, Jan O'Connell, Shelly Campbell, Patrick Geans, Rita Chapman, Mike Berkowitz, Teresa McHugh, Emily Rosenwasser, Justin Ueberlhor, Anne Woiwode, Rhonda Anderson, and the Sierra Club clean energy activists from all over the state.