Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition

Unifying the voice of a generation in environmental solidarity

A Trip to the UP

I’ve been trying to get to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for awhile now, and I recently came across a great excuse! This past week I spent some time at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI supporting some student work around our Clean Energy Champion campaign. Not only was this a beautiful place to be, but it was an extremely productive one! Myself and two students tabled for a few hours one day and collected over 100 new student voter pledges, and educated even more about Prop 3. Even though it rained the whole time I was there, I had a great time getting to know some NMU students, and seeing some beautiful sights. Carrie took me to Presque Isle state park for a few minutes, and even though it was rainy the red rocks, colorful shorelines, clear blue water, and the vastness of Lake Superior were absolutely stunning.

Of course, the day I left to drive home all day was beautiful and sunny, so I took some Yooper advice and made a few stops along the way. I stopped in Munising, Michigan and checked out the Picture Rocks lakeshore, and took a little hike to find a waterfall in the middle of the woods! If I hadn’t been thinking about the importance of clean energy in MI enough already, this trip really made me realize what Michigan has at stake. I was endlessly entertained by the beautiful fall colors during my drive in the lower peninsula, I crossed the Mackinac bridge, drove along the northern shore of Lake Michigan, and the southern shore of Lake Superior. Michigan is such an awesome place to live and we are so lucky to be able to experience these wonderful natural resources on a daily basis.

Now more than ever we need to take seriously Michigan’s transition to clean energy. Have you heard about the NWF”s new report on Enbridge’s Line 5?  This report warns of an extremely scary possibility- Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline rupturing and spilling underneath the Mackinac Bridge, right in between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. If this pipeline spills, like so many of Enbridge’s have in the past, this would be absolutely devastating for the Great Lakes and the life that surrounds it. We need to be done with dangerous pipelines and oil. We need to be done with coal plants polluting our air and water every day, and we need to be done with these large corporations that are selling our health, safety, and happiness so that they can make a profit by polluting our world. We can all start by voting for Prop 3 on Nov 6 to jumpstart MI’s transition to clean energy, and protect our land. Here’s whats at stake…

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Miner’s Falls
Lake Superior!
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Romney and Obama Continue to Ignore the Climate!

Last night, students from across the country (and some from outside too) gathered around their tv’s and keyboards to participate in the large Power Vote live chat centered around the first presidential debate. Among these students were several representatives from Michigan, some at Michigan State University even hosted a debate watch party. This was a great way to use our new media skills, and hang out with a ton of people who are passionate about climate issues! We were able to discuss what was going on in the debate with our peers, and participate in the various Twitter actions to break the #ClimateSilence.

Unfortunately, the majority of this chat was focused on the candidates deafening silence on, or refusal to address, one of the world’s most pressing issues….CLIMATE CHANGE. After tonight’s chat, I can confidently say that this nation’s youth will not be satisfied with any candidate or president who refuses to address this issue.

To us, the overwhelming amount of evidence that humans are affecting the climate in a negative way seems pretty hard to ignore. Has anyone been hearing about the Arctic lately? According to researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, at least 70% or Arctic ice loss is due to climate change. How about Kiribati? This island nation in the Pacific, and also one of the greenest countries in the world, is having to move its population to higher ground because of sea level rise. Meet some of our world’s first climate change refugees.

Although Obama and Romney managed to ignore all of these problems, they did talk plenty about job creation and stimulating the economy. Ironically, climate solutions could  be a great way to accomplish both of these goals! How about building a green economy that will create jobs, help us become more energy independent, and throw in the added benefit of not destroying the world? Seems pretty reasonable to me. In Michigan we are hoping to create more jobs and investment by increasing our state’s renewable energy standard to 25% by the year 2025, which citizens will have a chance to vote on in November (prop 3). With this one state policy, we could create 74,000 jobs that can’t be outsourced, and spur 10.3 billion dollars in investment. Michigan hasn’t been doing great in the whole economy area lately, but using a little green economy innovation we could begin to rebuild and someday become the nation’s leader in clean energy manufacturing.

Finally, I have read a couple articles lately (from Grist, big surprise) that point out exactly how strategic it could be for either of the candidates to talk about climate change solutions, given that 80% of undecided voters believe climate change is real, and over half of them say that the climate is an important issue for them. Is the stigma about climate change in this country so large that these candidates will not take this opportunity to win over these undecided voters?? It seems like they are doing literally everything else possible to get them, so why not break the climate silence?

All in all this debate was pretty mind boggling for me, and not just because I once failed micro economics in college. It felt great to take part in a national conversation about our need to prioritize the climate in politics, and feel the solidarity and momentum coming from that chat and all of the action in the twitosphere. However, the biggest conclusion that I can draw from this debate (don’t worry, its nothing original) is that we need bi-partisan cooperation and a cultural shift around this climate issue in America. It seems pretty crazy that we can turn something as fundamental as protecting our planet (AKA the source of all our life) in to something so highly politicized that our PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, and the other leaders of this country, cannot even mention it.

So what can we do? Well I’ll just go with the great feeling I got taking part in the youth online actions last night. The more we can work together, learn from each other, and create grassroots momentum, the better shot we have at getting our candidates to be accountable to the people and break the climate silence. So, for the next debate, lets do it again! Be sure to check out powervote.org for any updates and upcoming actions. You should also bring in your friends and family!

If you live in Michigan, be sure to check out Prop 3 before you go to the voting booth this year and see what you can do to support more clean energy and the green economy here.

This transition to clean energy, and stopping the impending climate doom (or tipping point), is not going to be easy or convenient, but I’m not sure anyone ever said that changing the world was supposed to be. Remember that old fashioned American value of hard work that we still cling to with nostalgia? Well maybe its time to pick it back up, and put in the hard work that is needed to ensure that our world is beautiful and livable for generations to come, and maybe create a job or two while we’re at it. Everyone can start by taking the time to research the issues and candidates that will be on the ballot this year, and take the pledge to vote for clean energy. 

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Steering Committee Retreat!

Hi all!

I’m Lois and I’m one of the new members of the MSSC steering committee.  We had our fall meeting on Saturday and it was very productive. There were several of us new to the committee so we got to know one another and the history of the MSSC. We spent a lot of time talking about the vision of the MSSC and our current and future goals.

MSSC Steering Committee 2012-1013 (minus Drew and Mariah!)

The MSSC has made a strong commitment to several issues, including the fight against Enbridge’s plans to create a tar sands pipeline through Michigan, and fracking. Additionally, the steering committee has broken up into three project groups – creating value for the council, creating a research/training program for students to learn more about environmental issues, and planning for the statewide summit.

Post-November, we’ll be spending additional time on our other issues, as well as the annual statewide summit (See you at Central in February!). Right now we’re focusing on the final push for the Clean Energy Champion Campaign.

Clean Energy Champions are collecting student voter pledges all across the state to make sure that Michigan students will be voting for candidates and initiative that will support clean energy. Have you heard of Prop 3? If passed, this initiative will increase Michigan’s renewable energy standard to 25% by the year 2025. If you haven’t already, sign the pledge, and get the word out to all your friends to VOTE CLEAN ENERGY!

None of this is possible without you. Join our listserv (mimssc@googlegroups.com), find us on Facebook, Twitter, and our website http://themssc.wix.com/themssc#!home/mainPage. Together, we are the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition.

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Board Meeting this Past Weekend

Wanted to do a quick update about something exciting that happened- we had all of our board members in one room this past Sunday in Lansing to discuss future MSSC plans and bringing on some new board members! 

This was a great opportunity to facilitate some more communication and updates between the Steering Committee and the Board of Directors, and we made some really great progress on establishing a process and timeline for putting together a new Board (will happen by the new year!)

For those of you who don’t know, we’ve had a great Board of Directors the past two years who have really helped with the long term planning of the MSSC. Our Board has helped us get funding for a full time organizer, helped us brainstorm our long term plans, connected us with great resources, and they have all been really great mentors. As the 2 year term is now ending for most of them, it will be exciting to bring on some new people, but so sad to see some of them leave. They will be moving on to great, exciting new things, and will remain in touch, but we will definitely miss them here on our Board. 

Here are our current Board members:

  • Sarah Mulkoff- National Wildlife Federation (Ann Arbor/Lansing)
  • Tremaine Phillips- Prima Civitas Foundation (Lansing)
  • Chris Detjen- Next Energy (Detroit)
  • Terry Link- Michigan State University, Greater Lansing Food Bank (Lansing)

As I mentioned before, we are currently going through our process to recruit new Board members from a wide variety of areas, backgrounds, and expertise. Our current members will all stay on to help facilitate this transition so that everything goes smoothly. We hope to add several new members and establish a more formal process for future transitions. 

Stay tuned to hear who our next Board members will be! 

On a different note, don’t forget to participate in the national 72 hour push to break the silence on climate! We are working with groups across the country to coordinate online action to make the moderator and candidates talk about climate during tomorrow’s first presidential debate. Sign up here to participate!

 

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Update!

Ladies from Citizens Against Drilling on Public Lands called the DNR and spoke with a representative who said that Keith Creagh had never made the statements we read in the previously mentioned article, and that they do not have plans currently to place any limitations on land use for fracking. She did say that Keith Creagh wanted to make sure that all of the comments generated were read through, but that they do believe the fracking is safe. BOO DNR!

This just means that now, more than ever, we need to get ourselves and all of our friends to this auction protest in Lansing on the 24th. By the end of this month the DNR will be hearing from us again, and much more loudly. Please join us to add your voice, and tell the DNR that selling these lands to corporations so that they can destroy them and make a profit is NOT acceptable. http://www.facebook.com/events/385277518210017/?fref=ts

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Opposition to Fracking on Public Lands Addressed by the DNR!!

It appears that the 1200+ comments submitted to the DNR and Director Keith Creagh opposing the auction of public lands for potential fracking activities have been heard! Many students attended the preliminary NRC meeting to voice their opinion that our public lands should not be sold to gas and oil companies for the purposes of hydraulic fracturing, which would contaminate our land and drinking water, and waste millions of gallons of water in the process.

Directly after this meeting Keith Creagh announced that the planned auction of this land will take place, but that he will look in to any “controls” that could be placed on fracking. Despite some folks denying the hazard of fracking to our state’s natural resources, it seems that the DNR has heard our voices against this process, and could be taking some action on the problem. Check out the article here!

Although this problem is far from over, it feels great to see the DNR taking our voices in to account, and looking further in to the fracking process! a BIG shout out to our friends organizing the Citizens Against Drilling on Public Lands. This student generated group out of Mt. Pleasant has provided an excellent, and very much needed, forum for students to unite against fracking in our state. They helped to generate the thousands of public comments and petition signatures needed to make our voices heard. Thanks for the great work and dedication!

Please join us on October 24th as we continue to protest the auction of our public lands and their mineral rights to oil and gas companies. This will be a crucial action to make sure that the DNR knows that we are taking this more seriously than ever, and want to hold them accountable to their mission and Michigan citizens. Check out the Facebook event here. 

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