PWIR: The Legend of Le Nain Rouge

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

In Detroit, there is an annual tradition of chasing Le Nain Rouge (the Red Dwarf) from the city, an evil little being that is said to have presaged nearly every major disaster in the city’s history. So, in the spirit of this peculiar festival, let’s take a look at what potential environmental mischief we, as a state, should be chasing away from Michigan.

In this week’s Political Week in Review: Representative Upton returns to Michigan to listen to what his constituents think about his crusade against the EPA, the release of a consolidated site for Michigan’s environmental priorities, an update from “How Green is Your Governor,” and tomorrow’s launch of RapidYes in the Grand Rapids area. And, if you read to the bottom, you’ll also get a short history of the Red Dwarf to impress your friends with next time you’re throwing around random Michigan trivia.

Rep. Upton returns home to listen. Be sure he hears you.

Most readers of this weekly letter are, by now, well-acquainted with Representative Upton’s steady assault on the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That said, I do want to give credit where it is due: The Congressman is returning home during the Recess to host a three-day series of listening sessions. In total, he will make 18 stops over March 22 – 24. In all seriousness, this is one of the most robust schedules of public events given with advance notice from a sitting Representative that I’ve seen.

For that reason, Michigan LCV is encouraging all residents of the 6th District to appreciate this openness and take the opportunity to respectfully ask Rep. Upton about his recent actions to hobble the EPA scientists’ ability to regulate greenhouse gas and his attacks on the Clean Air Act. If you would like to participate, please contact Michigan LCV’s newest team member, Zane Corriveau, here.

Your senators need to hear you, too.

Incidentally, Rep. Upton isn’t the only person who needs to hear your voice. The Red Dwarf’s nasty little green cousin is rampaging through the US Senate right now, too, in the form of two possible amendments that would restrain essential EPA regulatory powers.

This is a big deal. The House may very well do the wrong thing here and the Senate must stand strong. It is not a stretch to say that Michigan’s senators may be the deciding factor as to whether key greenhouse gases are regulated by politicians (see: no regulation) or by qualified, non-partisan EPA scientists. Please ask Senators Stabenow and Levin to maintain their long tradition of being environmental leaders for Michigan and ask them to oppose the McConnell and Rockefeller amendments. You can write Senator Levin here and Senator Stabenow here.

The launch of “Great Michigan”

Great Michigan is the revamped version of past years’ Michigan Briefing Book and is now a brand new and dynamic website. It features four primary environmental goals for this legislative session, recommended actions for both legislators and citizens on dozens of others, and access to experts on issues from across the state. It also has a great legislative tracking page so you can see where each conservation and environmental bill is in the process, along with its recommended vote.Check it out and bookmark it!

How Green is Your Governor so far?

Right now, the tally stands at five positive, five neutral, and three negative marks. As the Snyder Administration progresses, Michigan LCV will continue to watch his actions each day. Every major action that he takes (or, in some cases, doesn’t take) will be marked and permanently recorded on our “How Green is Your Governor” online tool. Please check the page regularly and watch our Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates, as well.

Transit millage campaign for Grand Rapids area launches

Tomorrow, the campaign to say “yes” to a local millage on May 3 in support of an expansion of services for the Grand Rapids-area public transit system will be officially launched at the Grand Valley State Health Sciences Building. (RSVP here). The Rapid is a remarkably successful system that fully deserves, and needs, to grow to support the expanding ridership. In 2010, it provided 9.7 million rides with daily weekday riders averaging 40,000.

Furthermore, it creates 754 jobs in the area and is operating at a millage rate well below other cities in the state. Michigan LCV is proud to support and work with RapidYes given its clean, efficient, and cheap way of encouraging transportation and smart urban planning.

As promised, the legend of Le Nain Rouge

Le Nain Rouge is a mythical creature that has haunted Detroit since the first European settler of the city, Antoine Cadillac, encountered the red creature with horns and rotted teeth; he consequently lost his life and fortune. It was later seen preceding nearly all major disasters in the city, from the Battle of Bloody Run to the Race Riots.

Finally, as proof that nothing is immune from politics, this year it was State Senator Coleman Young Jr. who appeared (in a Cadillac sedan, nonetheless) to apprehend and chase out Le Nain Rouge. For now…

Until next week,

Ryan Werder, Political Director


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