Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the May 25, 2023 edition of Three Things Thursday! I can hardly believe it’s the end of May and we are heading into Memorial Day Weekend. As we do so, preparing for time with friends and family in a myriad of different places around this remarkable state, I offer some stories you can share to inspire hope and excitement for our collective days ahead. It’s been a full week for the Michigan LCV team, and we are making progress towards real action in Lansing to address both our climate/clean energy challenges and our drinking water challenges. Let’s dive in!
1. Calling for 100% Clean Energy in Lansing
On Tuesday, Michigan LCV was on the ground in Lansing for a press conference at the Capitol Building, an event we organized to send a clear message to our state decision-makers and the broader public that transitioning to reliable, 100% clean energy must be – and is – a top priority for Michiganders.
Working in conjunction with Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action, the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, Michigan United and numerous other environmental, health and clean energy advocates, the press conference featured Senate Majority Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-Lansing), Sen. Sue Shink (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Jenn Hill (D- Marquette).
From left to right: Sen. Sue Shink, Sen. Sam Singh, Rep. Jenn Hill, Lisa DelBuono of Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action, Michigan LCV teammate Wesley Watson, Max Kendall of Michigan United, John Freeman of the Michigan Renewable Energy Association, and Michigan LCV teammate Nick Dodge.
Alongside Sen. Singh, Sen. Shink, and Rep. Hill, Michigan LCV West Michigan Regional Coordinator Wesley Watson hammered home the fact that climate action is a kitchen table issue, speaking to the importance of making a swift, equitable transition to a clean energy future – and doing it now. Climate impacts are already being felt by Michigan communities, especially minority communities that have been historically disadvantaged and are disproportionately affected by climate disasters. The press conference was widely covered, generating more than 15 stories from news outlets in Lansing and TV stations across the state.
Here are some of the top stories:
Michigan Radio: Lawmakers refocus attention on environmental policy
WILX: State lawmakers work to prioritize clean, renewable energy in Michigan
WLNS: Lawmakers, activists rally for clean energy in Michigan
Michigan Advance: Lawmakers, advocates tout environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy bills
CBS Detroit: Michigan lawmakers push for more clean energy at the Capitol
Wesley Watson giving a passionate speech during the press conference
This excerpt from a Michigan Advance article covering the press conference sums up our position on the issue well:
Michigan has an opportunity like never before to invest in its citizens, protect its air and water, create jobs and tackle issues of climate change and environmental justice, said Wesley Watson, West Michigan regional coordinator for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.
“Taking action on climate change is truly a kitchen table issue,” Watson said.
“It means upgrades across the state, especially in low-income communities, lowering costs, putting money back in people’s pockets and reducing energy usage to lower costs for families, creating good paying jobs that don’t require a college degree. It means protecting our health and protecting our future for all of us, regardless of income, or regardless of zip code,” Watson said.
We often hear about the importance of climate action in terms of the health of our planet, but what about the health of our communities? That’s why the Michigan LCV team is laser focused on making sure our leaders in Lansing capitalize on the opportunity right now to pass clean energy legislation that will protect our most vulnerable communities and create positive change for all Michiganders.
From left to right: Michigan LCV teammates Nick Occhipinti, Chris Semrenic, Evelyn Maidlow, Ethan Petzold, Samantha Schubert, Wesley Watson, Hudson Villeneuve, and Nick Dodge
Sens. Singh and Shink, along with others in the Michigan Senate, unveiled the Clean Energy Future Plan a few weeks ago, an 11-bill package with the potential to underpin, support and solidify Governor Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan. During his remarks at the press conference, Sen. Singh announced the Senate Energy Committee will be holding a hearing on the legislation next month to get the ball rolling forward in their chamber.
We are also working with our friends in the state House of Representatives to get a complementary bill package introduced there. We hope to see progress in both chambers over the course of the next few weeks. This will be a key topic of conversation for the Michigan LCV team when we travel to Mackinac Island next week for the annual Detroit Chamber Policy Conference.
2. Talking Inflation Reduction Act benefits with Congresswoman Dingell
On Monday, I had the distinct pleasure of joining national LCV CEO Gene Karpinski, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and Lashelle Johnson, LCV State Equity Policy Director, for a webinar entitled: Cleaning Up Our Future: The IRA, Implementation, LCV’s Role and Your Impact.
During the first few minutes, each of the speakers shared their thoughts and perspectives, but then we dove into conversation. I had the honor of conversing directly with Congresswoman Dingell, and then we went to a moderated Q&A, fielding questions from the audience that covered everything from electric vehicle charging infrastructure to the importance of investments in non-motorized transportation…and much more.
Congresswoman Dingell was a critical voice in getting the Inflation Reduction Act over the finish line, and she’s deeply committed to ensuring that municipalities all over our state reap the benefits of the enormously important federal investment in tackling climate change. National LCV and Michigan LCV have been, and remain, essential partners in getting this job done. I’ll have more to report on this in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned!
3. Michigan LCV’s Green Advocates Circle event
Last night, we held our inaugural Green Advocates Circle event at Zingerman’s Greyline in Ann Arbor…and it was an enormous success!
Thanks to a wonderful group of Table Hosts, the evening brought together an incredible group of people from throughout SE Michigan (and beyond) and featured compelling speakers, like state Representative Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor) and Sandy Wynn-Stelt, co-founder of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network. Enveloped in an array of tasty (heavy!) Zingerman’s tasty treats and some festive beverages, attendees walked away full–mind, body and spirit!
Lee Berry (left) talking to Rep. Jennifer Conlin (Right)
The inspiration for this event came from Michigan LCV’s Development Director Lee Berry who is determined to find innovative, engaging, fun ways to introduce more people to our work and bring them into the fold.
Michigan LCV teammates Amani Johnson and Brooke Harris.
In addition to testimonials from both Rep. Conlin and Ms. Wynn-Stelt about the impact of Michigan LCV on their lives and their work, we shared two videos filled with third party validators highlighting what we do and why it matters.
Here’s one of them entitled People Centered Power.
(NOTE: all of our videos are made in-house by our talented videographer, Samantha Schubert!)
The evening was emcee’d by our amazing board member Keith Cooley who was, as always, gracious, engaging and compelling.
MLCV board member Keith Cooley and me.
As I noted towards the end of the program….
“… The time is now. There is no time for complacency. I believe –and I bet you believe–that this beautiful state of ours, nestled at the heart of the largest body of freshwater in the world, ought to be leading the region, if not the nation, in the protection of our drinking water and tackling the climate crisis. Together we can get this done, creating real, lasting change for Michiganders everywhere!”
I am enormously grateful to all who took time to join us last night and for the truly remarkable support of our work.
From left to right: Rep. Felicia Brabec, Sen. Jeff Irwin, Rep. Jason Morgan,
Lauren Mallas, me, Keith Cooley, Sandy Wynn-Stelt, Bentley Johnson
I wish you all a very safe, happy, healthy Memorial Day Weekend. Until next week–and as always–thank you so much for all you do!
P.S. Not to end today’s message with a downer, but this is just one more reason why working hard to put strong protections in place at the state level is so darn important. The U.S. Supreme Court just rolled back safeguards on wetlands under the Clean Water Act today. Horrific decision. You can read more about the decision here or here.