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Dear Michigan LCV Family, 

Welcome to the August 25, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday!  Before diving into this week’s Three Things, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to an amazing member of the Michigan LCV family, Jerry Jung, who passed away in July and whose memorial service was yesterday. 

Jerry was a member of our board of directors for over a decade, helping the organization grow in countless ways and building long-lasting friendships with board and staff.  Jerry’s memorial service was beautiful, with each of his three children sharing stories of his life, many of which focused on his life-long passion for conservation, land/air/water protections, and leaving this world a better place than how he found it. Whether tackling the dangers of ethanol (and the threats to the monarch butterflies) with the founding of ReThink Ethanol, the purchase of thousands of acres of land for preservation, or investing  in outdoor education to ensure that young people – notably youth living in our urban centers – have  access and exposure to the wonders of the great outdoors, Jerry truly devoted his life to this incredible planet called Earth. And, he did so with boundless energy and determination, and a great sense of humor. 

My deepest condolences go out to Jerry’s entire family, notably his children – Jacob, Julie and Claire – his seven grandchildren, and his wife, Emily.  

When I returned home following the memorial service, a surprise rain shower blessed my neighborhood, along with a gorgeous rainbow.  I felt like it was Jerry’s spirit encouraging us all to carry on, building upon the legacy that he left and taking time to wonder at the incredible beauty that surrounds us each and every day.

Now, on to this week’s Three Things:

1. The most recent Michigan Public Service Commission hearing 

On Monday evening, many members of the Michigan LCV team were in Detroit for the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) hearing. Once a wonky body that few Michiganders tracked or understood, as attention to energy policy, climate change and utility rates (and the intersection therein) has grown, the MPSC has become a point of interest, attention and concern for many.  

In advance of the meeting, the Defend Black Voters coalition organized a rally, with scores of people turning out to voice their opposition to DTE Energy’s forthcoming Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which will define the utility’s roadmap for the next five years.   In addition to members of the community and other partner groups, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and state Representatives Yousef Rabhi and Laurie Pohutsky attended the rally, each making impassioned speeches about different aspects of DTE’s proposed IRP and the utility’s track record. 

Watch our video recap of Monday’s rally and hearing here>>>

The MPSC hearing was standing room only!

Earlier this year, Consumers Energy – Michigan’s other large utility – released its own IRP, which laid out a promising timeline for the closure of coal power plants and the adoption of clean energy solutions to help combat the climate crisis. Michigan LCV, our allies and people throughout the region are eager to see DTE follow suit. 

Through their everyday experiences, the people of Southeast Michigan understand that DTE Energy has one of the worst track records of any major utility in the Midwest when it comes to keeping the lights on. Over the past year, residential customers have experienced more than 80,000 interruptions to service. At the same time, DTE customers pay some of the highest energy rates in the country. Over the past five years, DTE has raised rates by more than $750 million dollars without making meaningful upgrades to service. 

What the Michigan LCV team has also been tracking is utility investments in elections. Like most major corporations, both DTE and Consumers give large contributions to people running for office and, over the past many years, have done a great job of lining the pockets of those legislators who are members of the House Energy Committee. In addition, many of these same corporations, including DTE,  made significant donations to elected officials who are actively seeking to make it harder for Black, Brown and Indigenous communities to vote and participate in our democracy. 

The MPSC is expected to announce its decision on DTE’s proposed IRP by November, providing ample time for you to make your voice heard. We promise to keep you well informed about upcoming  hearings. In the meantime, we encourage you to send a message to the DTE urging the utility to commit to a fast, equitable transition to clean energy and take bold steps to fight the climate crisis. 

2. Beautiful gatherings in Glen Arbor

In addition to the Michigan LCV PAC  fundraiser at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor last week, featuring special guest Attorney General Dana Nessel, our dear friends Denis Pierce and Martha VanVleck hosted two lovely gatherings at their beautiful home on the shores of Big Glen Lake. 

Last Thursday, Denis and Martha, along with their fabulous neighbors Gary Cozette and Joe Lada, hosted a small gathering for friends and community members so they could learn more about Michigan LCV, including both the critical issues we tackle every day and the role we play in electing strong leaders to office.

Dennis Pierce (left), a dear friend of Michigan LCV and many other organizations across the state,  is deeply passionate about issues facing Michigan’s land, air, water, climate and democracy. Denis and his wife Martha were gracious hosts for both events.  

From the climate crisis to attacks on our democracy to the ongoing Line 5 saga, those in attendance were eager to hear about what Michigan LCV is doing to tackle the dire threats to our beautiful state.

With Big Glen Lake as our backdrop, the evening was a wonderful gathering of folks who are deeply concerned about Michigan, our communities, and what we all can do to leave our environment healthy and vibrant for future generations. 

Then, on Monday, Denis and Martha, along with their wonderful friend  Tom Porter, hosted their annual environmental dinner, a gathering of leaders from across the state and region who are working in a variety of different ways to protect our beautiful state.  New additions this year included Denise Keele, the brand new executive director of the Michigan Climate Action Network (MiCAN);  Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer at the Michigan Environmental Council;  and Howard Learner, CEO of the Environmental Law and Policy Center (based in Chicago). 

Other attendees included (and I may have missed a few): 

  • Frank Ettawageshik, executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan
  • Mike Shriberg, National Wildlife Federation
  • Beth Wallack, National Wildlife Federation
  • Tom Nelson, Leelanau Conservancy
  • Scott Tucker, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Gary Bice, Michigan LCV Board
  • Sean McBrearty, Clean Water Action
  • Phil Roos, Michigan LCV board member and CEO of Upland 
  • Katie Sulau, Upland
  • Seth Bernard, Title Track
  • Holly Bird, Title Track
  • Tricia Denton, Glen Lake Association
  • Zach Simon, Michigan LCV 
  • Ashley Soltysiak, Groundwork
  • Hans Voss, Groundwork
  • Robb Kerr, Great Lakes PFAS Action Network
  • Liz Kirkwood, FLOW
  • Zach Welcker, FLOW

These annual dinners are important –and really fun! –ways for environmental organizations to connect and share information. The range of topics are always many and this year included special focus on the recent federal court decision by Judge Janet Neff, which keeps the Line 5 case in federal court rather than moving it to the state court. 

Enormous thanks to Denis, Martha, Gary, Joe and Tom for their dedication and leadership in pulling these important convenings together!

3. Michigan LCV’s second round of  post-primary legislative endorsements

On Tuesday, the Michigan LCV team unveiled our second round of post-primary legislative endorsements. You can read our press release here

State House: 

  • Tullio Liberati: HD-2 (D-Allen Park) 
  • Alabas Farhat: HD 3 (D-Dearborn)
  • Natalie Price: HD 5 (D-Berkley)
  • Mike McFall: HD 8 (D-Hazel Park)
  • Veronica Paiz: HD 11 (D-Harper Woods)
  • Donavan McKinney: HD 14 (D-Detroit)
  • Jason Hoskins: HD 18 (D-Southfield)
  • Noah Arbit: HD 20 (D-West Bloomfield)
  • Dylan Wegela: HD 26 (D-Garden City)
  • Jimmie Wilson Jr: HD 32 (D-Ypsilanti)
  • Carrie Rheingans: HD 47 (D-Ann Arbor)
  • Penelope Tsernoglou: HD 75 (D-East Lansing)
  • Emily Dievendorf: HD 77 (D-Lansing)
  • Will Snyder: HD 87 (D-Muskegon)
  • Anthony Feig: HD 92 (D-Mount Pleasant)

State Senate: 

  • Mary Cavanagh: SD 6 (D-Redford)

 

As with all of Michigan LCV’s endorsed candidates, the group of 16 candidates we endorsed this week demonstrate a strong commitment to protecting the health of Michigan’s communities and democracy, which includes, but is not limited to: cleaning up toxic contamination in water, addressing the climate crisis, protecting our natural resources, tackling inequities in communities disproportionately affected by air quality issues and access to clean water, and supporting policies that ensure fair and equal access to the ballot.

As you know, this is a pivotal election year that will set the political landscape in Michigan for the next several years and dictate our ability to, among other things: protect and ensure clean, safe drinking water is accessible for all Michiganders; facilitate meaningful climate action at the state level to go hand in hand with the climate provisions spelled out in the Inflation Reduction Act; and protect and expand voting rights and options in our state to ensure a fair and accessible democracy in which all Michiganders can make their voices heard. 

Reminder: We issued our endorsement of Governor Gretchen Whitmer a few weeks ago.  Our teammate Samantha did an amazing job putting together a series of videos, which we pushed out in numerous ways including via social media. 

If you haven’t seen them, here’s the full version .  I encourage you to check it out and share it – along with all of our other endorsements–with your family and friends. 

For a full list of Michigan LCV’s endorsed candidates, please visit our 2022 Endorsements webpage

Thank you for everything that you do to make our work possible. Please savor these last few days of August. They are truly a gift. 

Onward!

Lisa