Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the April 21, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday! This week is Earth Week and the Michigan LCV team is engaging in a number of events all week long in celebration of Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22. While the spirit of Earth Day is at the core of our organization’s work – advocating for the protection of our air, land, water and natural resources, preserving a healthy environment for future generations, and fighting for climate action at all levels of government – Earth Day represents a special time of celebration and an opportunity to bring attention to what must be done to protect all that we love and depend upon.
In my free time, I have been watching the new Netflix documentary series Our Great National Parks, narrated by President Barack Obama. The five-part series looks at the world’s greatest national parks, wildlife and wilderness areas, and is an incredible reminder of the awe-inspiring beauty that our planet has to offer. It is also a powerful reminder of the work we must do to protect our planet, its wildlife and biodiversity, and the lives of future generations and give thanks that we get to call planet Earth our home.
In celebration of Earth Week and Earth Day, this edition of Three Things shines a spotlight on Michigan LCV’s work to catalyze climate action at all levels of government. Let’s dive in!
1. State-level climate action: The final MI Healthy Climate Plan
Gov. Whitmer released her final MI Healthy Climate Plan today, a roadmap for Michigan to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050 with interim 2030 goals. This is an enormous step forward in our battle to address the climate crisis.
I was fortunate to attend the Governor’s press event in Traverse City, along with numerous members of the Michigan LCV team (staff and board), partner organizations, and climate leaders from across the state. With a backdrop of an expansive solar array and wind turbine, the Governor spoke passionately about all the state has done and plans to do to tackle climate change, emphasizing everything from the need to double down on renewable energy and the expansion of electric vehicles and EV infrastructure to the need to address our infrastructure, with opportunities to invest in energy efficient buildings and build sustainable roads, bridges and water systems for the future.
Governor Whitmer and EGLE Director Liesl Clark
This was MLCV board member Phil Roos’ quote in the Governor’s press release:
The Michigan Healthy Climate Plan is a bold first step toward mitigating the worst impacts of climate change while advancing opportunity, justice, and health. We have a long way to go, but this plan moves us quickly to get onto the right path,” said Phil Roos, CEO of Great Lakes GrowthWorks and Co-Chair of the Council on Climate Solutions. “Kudos to Governor Whitmer for her leadership in setting goals that match the magnitude of the challenge, and to her and EGLE Director Clark for putting in place a collaborative process that gave voice to an incredibly wide range of perspectives. That process has led to a plan that is Michigan-centric, positioning our state as a leader in the clean economy of the future, as a healthy refuge in a rapidly warming climate, and as leaders in advancing opportunity and justice for all as we make this important and critical transition to a decarbonized economy and healthier life for all the citizens of our state.”
In addition to the press event, the Michigan LCV team also participated in a roundtable discussion with the Governor, with the intersectionality of climate change, Great Lakes protection, public lands and human health as the focal point.
The Michigan LCV team in Traverse City with Gov. Whitmer
From left to right: Lauren Mallas, myself, Michigan LCV board member Phil Roos, Gov. Whitmer, Samantha Schubert, and Natalie Hayes
A bit of background:
The release of the final version of the MI Healthy Climate Plan is a victory for the Michigan LCV team and the greater Michigan LCV community that has been years in the making. As you may remember, in September 2020, Gov. Whitmer established the Michigan Council on Climate Solutions, a 14-member advisory board made up of Michiganders from across the state, to advise the Governor’s office and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) on the implementation of climate and energy solutions to tackle the climate crisis. I am extremely proud that two Michigan LCV board members – Phil Roos and Kerry Duggan – were named to the Council and played a lead role in advising the governor and EGLE in the creation of the new Plan.
Based on the Council’s recommendations, EGLE released the draft MI Healthy Climate Plan in January 2022 and sought input from the public. Although the draft plan was considered a solid start by Michigan LCV and many climate partner organizations across the state, it was clear that the final plan needed to be strengthened to address the rapidly accelerating climate crisis and the disproportionate impact of climate effects on minority and low-income communities, and include concrete, timed plans for the implementation of renewable and clean energy solutions to meet the plan’s outlined goals.
Throughout the winter months, the Michigan LCV team broadcasted the need for public input, recruiting hundreds of Michiganders to make their voices heard. The amazing work of our team, our board, and generous donors helped create a chorus of voices calling on EGLE to make revisions and ensure the final MI Healthy Climate Plan was as robust as possible. Between hundreds if not thousands of calls made to Michiganders and the constant stream of written and video content produced by our communications team, EGLE received an incredible amount of feedback to help make this plan the strongest climate action plan in state history.
The work of two Michigan LCV board members was especially inspiring. Keith Cooley and Salah Ali both serve on the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (MAC-EJ), the state’s first environmental justice advisory body. Along with the public and stakeholders, the work of Keith, Salah and the entire MAC-EJ brought much-needed attention to issues of environmental justice, ultimately strengthening the final version of the plan. While there is certainly more work to be done, I am so grateful to have had these two Michigan LCV board champions on the MAC-EJ making their voices heard.
2. Federal climate action: Climate Action for the Great Lakes region
As part of our Earth Week celebrations, Michigan LCV co-hosted a webinar yesterday on the importance of climate action for the Great Lakes region. Home to 20% of the world’s fresh surface water, Great Lakes states have a major role to play in protecting our water and taking action to address climate change.
The event was a collaborative effort among Michigan LCV, National LCV, and a number of state affiliates from across the Great Lakes region, and featured Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Senator Jen McEwen of Minnesota and Wisconsin State Representative Greta Neubauer. These elected champions, as well as climate action leaders from Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota, participated in a discussion that focused on how we can work together to protect our precious freshwater resources and address the climate crisis.
If you missed yesterday’s webinar, you can watch a full recording here.
Although climate action legislation has been stalled in Washington, D.C. for months, Congress has an opportunity to act now. I am grateful to all these Great Lakes legislative champions for their commitment and tenacity, especially our very own Congressman Kildee who is a shining example of the type of leadership desperately needed in every corner of this great nation.
3. Local climate action: Green Infrastructure + Oakland Action Rally
In the fight against climate change, action at the local level is taking place in many locales across the state that will help our communities become more resilient to the accelerating climate impacts we continue to see and experience.
One of the ways Michigan communities are taking action to build climate resilience is through investing in green infrastructure and stormwater management practices that help rain and stormwater soak into the land and waterways to avoid flooding and damage to buildings and roads. These practices include porous pavement that absorbs water and reintroduces it into streams and rivers, natural boundaries for roads and neighborhoods that absorb stormwater, and engineering natural boundaries for bodies of water to help avoid water collecting and flooding our communities.
The Michigan LCV team produced an awesome video detailing the importance and benefits of green infrastructure investments in the fight against climate change. You can watch the video here.
The great thing about green infrastructure investments is that the state of Michigan has large amounts of funding on the table – mainly from federal infrastructure funding – that can be used to make more of these investments in communities across the state.
Michigan cities are already putting green infrastructure practices into play to build climate resilience. Grand Rapids is investing in green infrastructure and leading the charge, serving as an example of the benefits that these investments can bring to our communities.
By investing in green infrastructure in Michigan communities, we can continue to make a difference in the fight against the climate crisis and ensure our communities are more resilient to the accelerating impacts.
On another local-level climate action note, the Michigan LCV team has partnered with the Sierra Club of Michigan to hold a major climate action march, rally, and Earth Day fair in Royal Oak on Saturday, April 23. Hosted by the Turn Oakland County Green Climate Campaign, which Michigan LCV supports, the event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday and will feature over 30 booths, a climate march through Royal Oak, and a rally with live music.
Michigan LCV’s Advocacy & Outreach (A&O) team has been instrumental in making Saturday’s event possible. In coordination with the Sierra Club and the Turn Oakland County Green, our team has logged over 7,500 phone calls inviting people to attend, ran a digital ad campaign, posted flyers and sent emails, and pursued earned media opportunities to raise awareness. Our efforts have resulted in 1,218 people responding to attend the event through official channels!
Our team is very excited for Saturday’s festivities! If you are interested in attending, you can find more information and RSVP to confirm your participation by clicking this link. All are welcome. The Michigan LCV team will have a booth set up, so please stop by and say “hi” if you’re in Royal Oak. We hope to see you there!
What a week this has been and there’s more to come! Thank you for making all our work possible. Until next week…