Political Week in Review: Michigan’s Sportsmen Take Aim at Clean Air Attacks

A weekly update on environmental policy happenings from Ryan Werder, Political Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Twitter: @rjwerder).

If there is one group of voters you don’t want to be on the wrong side of in Michigan, it’s our hunters and anglers. Their firepower at the ballot box, not in a blind or layout boat, is what legislators should fear. This week, they took aim at the attacks on the EPA and the Clean Air Act.

In this week’s Political Week in Review:

Michigan’s hunters and anglers speak up

To the misfortune of representatives and senators cozying up to climate change deniers like a duck to a decoy, the hunters and anglers of Michigan now have their sights set on the efforts to handcuff the EPA and weaken the Clean Air Act.

In a statement that included 300 sportsman groups, forty of which are from Michigan, hunters and anglers called on Congress to protect the wilderness they love from “acid rain and smog that threatens fish and wildlife and their natural habitats.” These men and women who spend more time in the forests, lakes, and rivers than most of us, often know better than most.

Giving legislators even greater pause is the fact that sportsmen are notoriously swing voters and a key rural demographic, as well. Groups like Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Anglers of the Au Sable, and the dozens of groups affiliated with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs boast memberships that demand the electoral attention of nearly every representative and senator.

Michigan LCV is proud to represent hundreds of sportsmen and women and, like the groups included in this effort, we urge Michigan’s state and federal representatives to think of the orange parkas as much as the green jobs when placing their votes in the ongoing fight for clean air.

Asking questions is a good thing, especially when fracking is involved

Two PWIR’s ago I mentioned the new instructions issued on hydrofracking by the Department of Environmental Quality; the intention was good, but the details were lacking. In order to ensure that all fracking operators – not to mention the millions of Michigan citizens impacted by their actions – fully understand the new process, Michigan LCV worked with a handful of our allies in other environmental organizations to get those answers.

You can find a quick summary of our collective letter on our website. Essentially, we asked for more information as to how chemical disclosure will be implemented, the safety of first responders in the event of an accident, and a way to ensure that excessive amounts of water are not withdrawn from essential watersheds.

Speaking of water withdrawal and making sure we do not drain our precious freshwater in our state,you should come to the screening ofFLOW for Water in Grand Rapids on June 22nd at 7:00p at the Wealthy Street Theater. Be sure to mark your calendar to join us,WMEAC, Grand Rapids Whitewater, and Founders Brewery (yes,Founders) for happy hour starting at 6:00 pm, movie, and discussion. To top it off, one lucky audience member will win a one day paddle trip with Powers Outdoors!

Michigan LCV goes to Washington

I feel like we had more fun than Mr. Smith, too. You can read about the full adventure here, but we–bottom line–met with top Obama administration officials from the EPA and the Department of Transportation, both Michigan Senators, and a half dozen other congressional offices from both parties.

We talked about reform of America’s broken system for testing dangerous toxins, defending the Clean Air Act, ending unnecessary and costly oil subsidies, correct interpretation of the Clean Water Act, and advocating for more rail and safer streets before we build new ones. It was a stark reminder that despite all the engrossing and vital fights we are engaged here in Michigan, the fight in Washington is just as wide-ranging and important.

That’s why we also attended the national LCV’s major fundraising dinner that night, keynoted by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Representing Michigan, our Executive Director, Lisa Wozniak, who is on the National Board for the LCV Education Fund, closed out the dinner with a speech about the battles and opportunities facing Michigan. It was good to be in such good company and to have the final three speakers of the evening all from Michigan.

Even on the national stage, it is abundantly apparent how central Michigan is to the environmental concerns pulsing throughout the nation.

Meanwhile, back in the Michigan Legislature…

I’ve talked at length in past PWIR’s on the danger of the “no stricter than federal” legislation that is moving quickly toward the Governor’s desk, so I won’t take up too much more space again here. However, I will ask you to speak up against it:

Take action now by sending this quick letter to your own representative, and tell them you oppose House Bill 4326. It takes one minute of your time and lends your voice to this important fight.

Another bill is making its way through the State Senate that would cap the amount of land the state is allowed to protect. As it is written now, it is impractical and does not leave the state the flexibility it needs to preserve important wetlands and forests that may become available in the future. It does not even distinguish between miles of roads the state manages and acres of forest. Future amendments may yet correct these errors, but for now: stay tuned.

Until next week,

Ryan Werder, Political Director, Michigan League of Conservation Voters

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