Three Things Thursday: A grand gala event, Oakland County elections, and–yes–more on dangerous Line 5
Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the October 15th edition of Three Things Thursday. I send these weekly messages to keep you up-to-date on Three Things the Michigan LCV team — and our broader Conservation Voters Movement — has accomplished and/or experienced recently in our work to protect Michigan’s incredible natural resources and the health and well-being of our children and communities.
This week I recap our amazing virtual Gala, which took place last night, highlight our new “Vote Oakland County Green” initiative, and provide an update on the ever-dangerous Line 5 pipeline.
1. Our 2020 Detroit Gala: “Equity and the Environment”
After weeks and weeks of hard work, we held our 2020 Annual Detroit Gala yesterday evening. Even though it was held virtually, the energy and enthusiasm from our guests and our dynamic speakers was nothing short of amazing.
I want to thank so many people, including all who joined us last night, our sponsors, and outstanding speakers, as well as the world-class Michigan LCV team who pulled it all off. COVID-19 has been incredibly hard for us all, and this event — full of positivity and determination — illustrated a deep sense of commitment and community amidst an array of challenges in our world.
The event began with the screening of a video featuring our Southeast Michigan Field Organizer Grover Easterling III. His poem “All Be Green” set the stage for the night, detailing the impacts of climate change, the challenges facing our water, and a call to action for lawmakers (and all of us) to step up and take action.
We were then joined by state Representative Tyrone Carter, who provided a virtual “welcome to Detroit”, detailing the challenges facing SE Michigan, including the need for access to safe, affordable water. Rep. Carter “tipped his hat” to Governor Whitmer for her administration’s focus on environmental justice.
We were graced with a performance by Detroit spoken word poet Natasha Miller who wrote and performed a powerful piece paying tribute to people who have died from COVID-19. You can watch her poem on our Youtube page here. Please take a look–I promise you, you won’t regret it.
And we were proud to bestow upon our three honorees — Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Governor Gilchrist and Detroit activist Theresa Landrum — our 2020 Equity and the Environment Leadership Awards.
All three awardees gave outstanding speeches highlighting the work they are doing every day to make our state a better place. I was particularly moved by Theresa Landrum’s remarks. Her dedication to her community in the 48217 zip code (the most polluted zip code in the state) and her call to action in relation to our right to vote was powerful. Our world certainly could use more Theresa Landrums.
Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist lifted up the work they’ve been doing to make environmental justice a key focus within the administration, noting the creation of the first-of-its-kind Task Force on Racial Disparities to focus on the inequitable impacts of COVID-19.
Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist also acknowledged that receipt of our awards came on the heels of two major announcements: the MI Healthy Climate Plan and MI Clean Water Plan, both of which are enormously important in the arenas of climate change and clean drinking water. In fact, we launched a special page on our website in support of these two plans, which you can access at www.cleanwaterhealthyclimate.com. There, you can also see two top-notch videos about the announcements: one related to climate and the other to water.
The evening also included a last minute surprise: a letter from Vice President Joe Biden congratulating our honorees for their extraordinarily important work. Michigan LCV Board Vice President George Davis read Vice President Biden’s letter, which you can watch here.
If all that weren’t enough, we also got to hear from two amazing members of Michigan’s federal delegation: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and U.S. Senator Gary Peters. Both have done outstanding work in Washington, working to clean up toxic contamination and protect the health of our communities. You can click here to watch Congresswoman Slotkin’s remarks, and click here to watch Senator Peters.
Michigan LCV Board of Directors President Janis Bobrin and Vice President George Davis provided a warm send off to close the evening.
Again, I want to thank everyone who attended and made this event possible. To make you laugh a bit, I’ll grace you with two behind-the-scenes photos: one of the makeshift studio my husband and I created in our study, replete with a potted plant borrowed from our neighbors ;-); the second a shot of the test run Zoom we did to make sure things were working. This is what it’s come to in the COVID era.
2. Vote Oakland County Green Initiative
As the 2020 general election approaches, much of the attention has been given to the national political landscape and big federal races, both in Michigan and across the country, and for good reason. Here at Michigan LCV, however, we have also been paying attention to state and local races, which carry with them huge impacts for the future protection of our land, air and water, and the fight against climate change.
This Tuesday, in partnership with the Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter, we announced the launch of the Vote Oakland County Green Initiative, a new campaign designed to help promote and elect environmental champions running for the Michigan State House of Representatives, Oakland County Commission, and Oakland County Executive.
In addition to door-to-door canvassing efforts, the initiative also includes member outreach, phone-banking, and digital engagement, all of which support candidates who will fight to take action on climate change, move toward a cleaner future for Oakland County, and work to hold polluters accountable so they pay the costs for cleanup, not taxpayers.
Candidates receiving our support are committed to:
- The creation of a sustainability office and climate resilience plan with a net-zero carbon goal for 2050
- Expansion of public transit, bike and electric vehicle infrastructure
- Programs specifically working to increase low-income access to clean energy and energy efficiency, replacement of lead service lines and other pollution remediation
- Action to preserve and expand democratic engagement, and
- A call for Oakland County to advocate for environmental priorities at the state level.
There has never been a more important time to have leaders and elected officials who are dedicated to prioritizing the health and safety of Michiganders and taking action to protect the environment.
Now that Governor Whitmer has taken decisive action to address climate change, we must support those efforts by electing public officials at all levels of government who will take the threats of climate change seriously and work hard to make a difference. The Vote Oakland County Green Initiative seeks to do just that, and we are proud to partner with the Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter in these efforts.
You can read our press release here.
3. An update on Line 5
The Line 5 saga continues.
As you know, our main focus remains shutting down the antiquated, damaged 67-year-old pipeline. That said, Enbridge is determined to keep their dangerous dual pipeline running while also making moves to build their so-called tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac as an eventual replacement. Needless to say, given Enbridge’s long record of accidents and deceit, there is very little faith in any of their proposed plans.
Indeed, our partners at Oil & Water Don’t Mix held a press conference with geological experts two weeks ago to highlight serious issues with Enbridge’s tunnel permit. According to the geological experts, Enbridge’s draft permit would authorize an increased loading of pollutants into Lake Michigan from the construction process. The experts also found a lack of geologic data and an outdated risk assessment from Enbridge as alarming flaws in the permit application. You can read more about their concerns here.
More recently, this week, northern Michigan tribal members announced that they discovered possible evidence of underwater Ice Age artifacts directly in the area where Enbridge is seeking permits to build their so-called Line 5 tunnel. What is (even more) disturbing is that a technician who originally noticed linear rock formations near the proposed tunnel site was directed by Enbridge to ignore the possible cultural artifacts in the Straits and, then — after asking to consult with experts —was summarily removed from the Line 5 tunnel site assessment project.
Given Enbridge’s track record, this news is not surprising, but it should set alarm bells off for state officials.
In other Line 5 news, just today Representatives Rachel Hood and Yousef Rabhi announced legislation that would make anchor strikes on pipelines in the Great Lakes a felony offense (and you better bet they highlighted Enbridge Energy’s abysmal track-record during their press conference).
While this legislation is a step in the right direction, the only way to truly prevent a catastrophic oil spill in our Great Lakes is to shut down Line 5 once and for all. You can read our statement about the legislation here.
As always, thank you for all you do. There are 18 days left until November 3rd…..18 days.
Be well. Be safe.