Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the February 18, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday. With freezing temperatures and snow days upon us, hibernating feels like the right thing to do, maybe even pulling the covers up over our heads and checking out for a bit. If this week’s Three Things find you in that place, I hope it brings you a sense of hope, a bit of optimism, and even some excitement for what the future holds as we look at the power of young people, the pursuit of justice and fairness, and the potency of holding our elected officials accountable.
1. Michigan LCV’s newest initiative: #OurWater Activists Program!
As you know, the Michigan LCV team is committed to building a safer, healthier Michigan for all who live here. We work to protect our land, air and water, public health, and democracy so that future generations may have access to safe, clean drinking water and beautiful natural resources, as well as an equitable playing field where the voices of all voters are heard and appreciated.
While I often write about the complex policies we are working on in Lansing and high profile campaigns, like shutting down Line 5, the work we do at the community level all across our state is what makes all else possible.
Michigan LCV’s Political & Outreach team is our key to community-based activism and leadership. Throughout the fall of 2020, during an unprecedented election season, our Political & Outreach team worked diligently to engage and train Michiganders to become activists both in the electoral and policy arenas.
Now, in the aftermath of a crazy election year, our work in community-based organizing is more important than ever. Building on the momentum of 2020 and in a continued effort to engage community leaders across Michigan, we have launched a new initiative we call the “#OurWater Activists Program.”
Our team is focused on engaging voters in Southeast, West and Northern Michigan, with the goal of building relationships and a larger place-based presence on behalf of Michigan LCV, while simultaneously centering the protection of Michigan’s land, air and water as top political priorities for elected officials and voters.
What’s really cool about this initiative is that it’s an educational opportunity for anyone who is interested in learning more about community engagement, exploring what leadership looks like, and building organizing skills, all of which are of value across a broad spectrum of issues and places. The skills folks gain through their involvement in the #OurWater Activists Program will serve them well right now and far into the future, whether working to address PFAS contamination in a community, helping elect a friend to city council, or building a team inside a workplace.
As we continue to see accelerating impacts of climate change and real challenges to the health and safety of drinking water in our own backyards, we are committed to engaging, building and supporting leaders who will help Michigan LCV and the climate/water justice movement grow stronger and have increasing impact at the local, state and federal levels.
Our Political and Outreach team is now accepting applications for 15 slots across Michigan. You can read more about the responsibilities and qualifications here. Those interested, including high school and college students, can apply by sending a cover letter and resume to our West Michigan Regional Organizer, Abigail Barker, at [email protected] by February 22, 2021.
2. Michigan’s “No Stricter Than Federal” legislation and the latest work to repeal it
On Thursday, there was a promising development in the fight to strengthen environmental and public health protections in Michigan. Michigan state Senator Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and a host of co-sponsors introduced a piece of legislation that would allow the state government to set the highest and best standards for environmental/public health regulations by repealing what is known as “No Stricter Than Federal.”
As you may remember, the “No Stricter Than Federal” (NSTF) Public Act of 2018 prohibits Michigan from setting environmental/public health standards or protections that are more stringent than those set at the federal level. This damaging legislation was introduced during the 2018 lame duck legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder as he was leaving office. Michigan LCV was adamantly opposed to the legislation and urged Gov. Snyder to veto the bill when it came across his desk. Alas….
In the two years that have passed since adoption of this ill-conceived law, Michigan has continued to deal with threats to our drinking water and public health. PFAS contamination, as example, has only become more widespread and ubiquitous. Lead and legionella in our aging pipes have been found in more locations.
In a state defined by the vast expanse of fresh surface water that surrounds us (a gift no other state in the nation has in their midst), our responsibility is clear — we are to act as protectors and stewards–which is made more difficult by the 2018 law.
In 2018 and 2020, safe, clean, affordable drinking water was among the most critical issues for Michigan voters. As we move into 2021, drinking water remains a top priority in Michigan’s political agenda. Sen. McCann understands this. He has listened carefully to the voices and needs in his district, which are similar to those across our beautiful state. Repealing the NSTF law and allowing the Whitmer administration and the legislature to institute environmental/public health protections that make good sense for Michigan is the right thing to do and the Michigan LCV team is working hand-in-glove with Senator McCann to make that happen.
3. The 2020 National Environmental Scorecard
Michigan LCV linked arms with our national partners today to release the 2020 National Environmental Scorecard, an annual staple in the conservation voter movement’s work to hold our elected officials in Washington, D.C. accountable for their actions.
The National Environmental Scorecard, as well as Michigan LCV’s Michigan-focused state legislative Scorecard, are the primary yardsticks for evaluating the records of every single member of Congress and Michigan’s legislature.
LCV has released its National Environmental Scorecard consistently since 1970, representing the consensus of experts from all across the environmental and conservation movement landscape. As the number of environmental organizations and recognized experts has grown, so has the depth of analysis and credibility as the Scorecard scores voting records on the most important environmental issues, including energy, climate change, environmental justice, public health, conservation, and democracy.
While analysing environmental voting records, the 2020 Scorecard does so taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic, economic inequality, racial injustice and climate change.
The 2020 Scorecard provides ratings for every member of Michigan’s Congressional delegation, with some of our closest allies rewarded for their commitment to fighting for the environment, public health, and the Great Lakes. Others in our delegation, however, have scores that reflect a true lack of commitment to environmental protection, clean drinking water and addressing the climate crisis.
The Michigan delegation’s scores include:
- Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township – 92%
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing – 92%
- Former Rep. Justin Amash, I-Cascade Township – 14%
- Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet – 14%
- Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn – 100%
- Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland – 29%
- Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint Township – 100%
- Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield – 100%
- Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township – 100%
- Former Rep. Paul Mitchell, I-Dryden Township – 14%
- Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland – 19%
- Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly – 95%
- Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills – 100%
- Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit – 95%
- Rep. Fred Upton, R-Saint Joseph – 62%
- Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton – 5%
Here’s the good news:
In an unprecedented year, while dealing with the most anti-environmental president ever, significant progress in protecting the environment was made due to the leadership exemplified by specific members of the 116th Congress who have led us to a moment of paramount importance and opportunity now that the Biden administration has taken office and committed to meaningful progress to address the climate crisis and public health.
Both houses of Congress introduced and passed key pieces of legislation, such as the Great American Outdoors Act in the Senate with the help of Sen. Peters and Sen. Stabenow, and the PFAS Action Act of 2019 sponsored by Rep. Dingell to address toxic “forever chemicals” in our drinking water. Other important legislative milestones from the 116th Congress reflected in the Scorecard include all Michigan representatives and senators except one voting in support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019, which increases funding to protect our beloved natural wonders, and Rep. Tlaib’s action on the Moving Forward Act to invest in replacing lead service lines and protect drinking water across the nation.
As always, thank you for your support and belief in our work. Until next week, please be safe and stay healthy.