Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the September 1, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday! What a week it has been and it’s only Thursday! In addition to the three important Things below, this final week of August has been a whirlwind for our team and here are two (of the many) reasons why:
Yesterday, the Board of State Canvassers (BSC) deadlocked in their decision to certify the Promote the Vote 2022 ballot initiative despite Bureau of Elections staff recommendations to approve certification. As a member of the Promote the Vote steering committee, this decision was deeply disappointing, but not completely surprising given the highly partisan nature of just about everything these days. The Promote the Vote 2022 campaign has filed a writ of mandamus, which moves the final decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. Please know that the BSC pulled the same move with the redistricting ballot initiative in 2018. It didn’t work then and we have confidence that it won’t work now. As my friend Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians said, “The BSC will not do its job until the Supreme Court orders it to.” Our state’s highest court will rule next week.
I was privileged to serve as a speaker this evening for a national GiveGreen event highlighting the election/re-election of seven pivotal gubernatorial candidates. The event included Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Gov. Tony Evers (WI), Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), Gov. Janet Mills (ME), AG Josh Shapiro (PA), Gov. Steve Sisolak (NV), and candidate Stacey Abrams (GA). My role? I helped open the event and introduced both Gov. Lujan Grisham and our very own Gov. Whitmer. I also had the distinct honor to follow Stacey Abrams, making the final, closing remarks about the pivotal importance of these elections.
Whew! NOW, on this week’s originally planned Three Things:
1. Michigan LCV endorses Secretary Benson for re-election!
On Wednesday, the Michigan LCV team formally announced our endorsement of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for re-election in 2022! The rollout of our announcement was multi-faceted, including social media collateral, an amazing video, a press release and more. The Michigan LCV board and staff were thrilled to voice enthusiastic support for our incumbent secretary of state, a proven leader and champion of our democracy who has been instrumental in navigating our state through four extraordinarily trying, transformative years. You can read Michigan LCV’s statement here.
As a reminder, Michigan LCV only endorses candidates who have demonstrated a deep understanding and commitment to working on issues impacting our land, air, water, health, and democracy, and Secretary of State Benson is a prime example of a candidate who has done just that.
In her first term, Secretary Benson has:
- Implemented expanded voting options and rights introduced by Proposal 3 in 2018, including no-reason absentee ballots, secure drop boxes, and early weekend voting.
- Executed a historic election during a global pandemic in 2020 that saw record numbers of Michigan voters cast ballots and make their voices heard.
- Worked tirelessly to maintain trust and transparency surrounding our democracy in the face of anti-democracy attacks on Michigan’s elections.
Secretary Benson understands that our democracy works best when everyone, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or the color of their skin, can exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard. Amid continued attacks and threats to our democracy, re-electing Secretary Benson is critical to ensuring access to the ballot box for all Michiganders. As our Secretary of State, she will continue to serve as a champion for our democracy as she has proven time and again.
2. PFAS, Polluter Pay and WEMU’s 1st Friday Focus on the Environment
Last Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a reclassification of PFOA and PFOS, an important development in the fight against the toxic PFAS crisis. The proposal outlines plans to designate two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) —perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)— as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund program.
In Michigan LCV’s statement on the proposal, federal government affairs director Bentley Johnson said:
This latest announcement shows that the Biden administration’s EPA is taking the PFAS contamination crisis seriously and actively working to set rules and regulations to protect communities from these toxic chemicals. We thank federal lawmakers, like Rep. Debbie Dingell for continuing to push this issue in Washington. The next step is to pass the bipartisan PFAS Action Act to solidify strong laws to clean up these dangerous chemicals in our drinking water and protect our health.”
Today, I was honored to join Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and other advocates for a virtual national press briefing to provide updates and discuss next steps regarding the EPA’s proposal. Congresswoman Dingell has been nothing short of heroic in her work to address the growing PFAS crisis in this state and nation.
As Great Lakes PFAS Action Network (GLPAN) co-chair Tony Spaniola described, the EPA’s proposal marks a win for individuals and communities grappling with toxic PFAS contamination across the country:
For communities like ours, for families, for communities that have suffered for far too long, today is really a watershed moment… There are some tools in the toolbox now. This creates a much more powerful one.”
GLPAN co-chair Sandy-Wynn Stelt added:
This is kind of the culmination of everything. A whole lot of activists across the country have been working hard for so long… I wish we could get together and have a beer to celebrate.”
By reclassifying these PFAS chemicals under the Superfund law, regulators would have the ability to recover cleanup costs from polluters, instead of the cost of cleanup falling on those impacted.
Three enormous cheers for Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and her relentless leadership! We still have to go through the proposed rule-making process and 60 days of public comment, but the Michigan LCV team will be there every step of the way alongside our fearless Congresswoman!
NOTE: Until Gov. John Engler gutted Michigan’s Polluter Pay laws in 1995, our state had some of the strongest laws in the country to hold polluters accountable for contamination and the cost of clean up. As we continue to see a myriad of threats to our drinking water – from hexavalent chromium in the Huron River to the threat of a Line 5 oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac – it is imperative that our lawmakers pass laws right here in Michigan to ensure we are a leader once again when it comes to holding polluters accountable. With several bills that would go a long way to doing just that stalled by Republicans in Lansing, we need to call on our elected leaders to take action to protect our communities and hold corporations accountable for poisoning our drinking water.
Program Director David Fair and I will have the chance to talk about Michigan’s Polluter Pay history with the author of the original, strong laws, Lana Pollack, tomorrow morning on WEMU’s 1st Friday Focus on the Environment. I invite you to tune in tomorrow at 6:48 AM for what will undoubtedly be a very interesting conversation.
3. Michigan LCV’s 2022 annual Detroit Gala
September is upon us and the Michigan LCV team is gearing up for our 10th Annual Gala in Detroit later this month! On Thursday, September 29, we will be holding the 2022 edition of our signature annual event at the Gem Theatre as we recognize and celebrate the people making real change to protect Michigan’s land, air, water, public health, and democracy.
For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we will be holding the event in person, a welcome development after two years of being completely virtual. I’m looking forward to seeing so many friendly faces as we come together to celebrate this year’s amazing awardees.
This year, the Michigan LCV team will be honoring two outstanding individuals and two incredible partner organizations for their work to move the needle on issues facing our land, air, water, public health and democracy in Michigan.
Our 2022 gala awardees are Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, MLive reporter Garret Ellison, the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, and Planet Detroit.
Our keynote speaker for this year’s gala will be Catherine Coleman Flowers, an internationally recognized activist whose work to improve access to clean water has been instrumental across the U.S.
Finally, we have once again partnered with the Glass Academy for this year’s awards. The creative brainchild of artists Michelle Plucinsky and Chris Nordin, the Glass Academy is a renowned, family-owned, artist-driven hot glass studio that has been a staple of the Dearborn community for nearly 20 years.
The hand blown glass awards created by the Glass Academy for our 2021 gala were stunning!
In addition to creating beautiful handcrafted functional and decorative glassware, the Glass Academy offers hands-on classes and seasonal events at their BATCH Studio, as well as a weekly live streamed show, “The Gathering Point.” The Michigan LCV team is thrilled to continue our partnership with the Glass Academy this year, and excited to unveil some new additions to our collaboration that will be included during this year’s gala.
In the coming weeks I will provide you with more information and previews of our 2022 awardees and their incredible work, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, I encourage you to make plans to attend this amazing event. You can purchase tickets here. I hope you will join us!
As I say every week, thank you so much for all you do to support our work. None of this would be possible without your trust in our team. And, a very special “shout out” to our dear friend Bill Haney, whose wonderful, celebratory gathering I was fortunate to attend yesterday. Bill’s wisdom, kindness, compassion, broad network of friends, and deep dedication to the protection of this beautiful planet (and all the critters who inhabit it, especially the birds) has brightened my life in immeasurable ways.
Until next week…