Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Celebrate World Water Day at Michigan Tech March 20-26

Michigan Tech invites the community to celebrate the 2019 World Water Day March 20-26. (Poster courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech will celebrate World Water Day from March 20-26, 2019, with events related to the United Nations theme, "Leaving No One Behind - Human Rights: Near and Far." The public is invited to attend the following events.

Green Film Marathon for Justice: Two screenings -- March 20 and 26

Marathon for Justice, a documentary by EmpathyWorks Films, tells the story of marginalized communities in Philadelphia, the Navajo Nation, and the Black Hills emphasizing the environmental injustices that these groups struggle against and fight with daily. (Photo courtesy Cultural Survival)

Events begin with a showing of the Green Film Marathon for Justice (2016) from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in G002 Hesterberg Hall, Michigan Tech Forestry Bldg. Marathon for Justice explores the ways in which people of color have been disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals in/on the air, land, and water. Meet communities around the country who have experienced the detrimental effects of pollution, contamination and the degradation of their lands and find out how these citizens are mobilizing in the long race for justice (44 min). The film will be followed by a discussion facilitated by Marie Richards, Michigan Tech PhD student, Department of Social Sciences, and enrolled Citizen of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Baawting Anishinaabeg).

Enjoy coffee and refreshments. Cost: FREE, $5 suggested donation.

A second screening of Marathon for Justice will be at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, in in Room 202, Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC).

A Panel Discussion, "Leaving No One Behind," will follow the film at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26. Moderators will be Valoree Gagnon, director of University-Indigenous Community Partnerships, Great Lakes Research Center, and Emily Shaw, MS, Environmental Engineering Science. Panelists will include Monica Lewis-Patrick, We the People of Detroit; Kathleen Smith, Habitat Specialist/Plants Program, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department; Peter Baril, REHS, MPS, Director of Community Planning and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Western Upper Peninsula Health Department; Angie Carter, assistant professor in Environmental/Energy Justice, Social Sciences, Michigan Tech.

Following the Panel Discussion the GLRC will host a Recognition of Artists and Reception at 5:45 p.m. with refreshments provided by GLRC. A concluding ceremony with the Woodland Singers will follow at 6:15 p.m.

Keynote Address: "Mapping the Water Crisis of Unaffordability" Monday, March 25

The Keynote Address for the World Water Day celebration will be "Mapping the Water Crisis of Unaffordability" by Monica Lewis-Patrick, co-founder, president and CEO of We the People of Detroit, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, March 25, in Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Building Ballroom (MUB).

The Keynote lecture will be preceded by the Welcome to Traditional Homelands by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Woodland Singers from the Ojibwe and Menominee Nations. The lecture will be followed by an open reception. 

(Insert Photo of Monica Lewis-Patrick © Jackie Hicks and courtesy Michigan Tech University)

POSTER SESSION: Monday, March 25

Preceding the Keynote Address, Michigan Tech students will be available from 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. on Monday, March 25, for informal discussions with visitors to the Poster Session in the Memorial Union Building Ballroom.

Wilderness Art Show opening reception: Tuesday, March 26, in GLRC

The Wilderness Art Show for World Water Day will be on exhibit March 21 - June 14, 2019, in the Great Lakes Research Center. (Poster courtesy GLRC)

The Wilderness Art Show for World Water Day opens on Thursday, March 21 and continues through June 14, 2019, in the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), first and second floors.

Exhibiting artists are Daniel Hill from Six Nations of the Grand River Reservation in Ontario Canada; Josh Jaehnig, Bramble and Stag Tattoo Parlour, Houghton; and Jonathan Soper, graphic designer and entrepreneur in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

An opening reception for the artists will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, in the GLRC. Regular building hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


World Water Day Sponsors include the Great Lakes Research Center, Department of Social Sciences, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Sustainable Futures Institute, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Visual and Performing Arts and the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.

Green Film sponsors are Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Keweenaw Land Trust, Michigan Tech Dept. of Social Sciences, and Michigan Tech Sustainable Futures Institute.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Power by the People: Renewable Energy Reduces the Highest Electric Rates in the Nation

Pictured here are solar panels installed on the campus of Michigan Tech University, where researchers have found renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money. (Photo © Sarah Bird and courtesy Kelley Christensen)

By Kelley Christensen, Michigan Tech science and technology publications writer

Posted March 14, 2019, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted in part here with permission


Coal is the primary fuel source for Midwest electric utilities. Michigan Technological University researchers found that increasing renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money.

As renewable energy technologies and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease. Making electricity for yourself with solar has become more affordable than traditional electricity fuel sources like coal.

However, as three Michigan Tech researchers contend in a new study, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources, Michigan utilities, and U.S. utilities broadly, continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers. ... Click here to read the rest of this article and learn about the researchers on Michigan Tech News.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

DNR's Western UP Citizens' Advisory Council to meet in Dickinson County March 21

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Western Upper Peninsula Citizens’ Advisory Council is scheduled to discuss deer camp survey results, Michigan moose history and responses to council resolutions when the panel meets on Thursday, March 21, in Dickinson County.

The meeting will be from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. CDT (6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT), in Room 231 at Bay College West, located at 2801 North U.S. 2 in Iron Mountain.

Five new members will be introduced to the council. DNR staffers will offer division reports. Committee reports will also be delivered.

The public can participate in the session by offering comments to the discussion during two specified periods during the meeting. Click here for public comment instructions.

The DNR’s eastern and western Upper Peninsula citizens’ advisory councils are designed to provide local input to advise the DNR on regional programs and policies, identify areas in which the department can be more effective and responsive and offer insight and guidance from members’ own experiences and constituencies.

The council members represent a wide variety of natural resource and recreation interests. Agenda items are set by the council members and council recommendations are forwarded to the DNR for consideration.

To find nomination forms to be considered for a future council member vacancy, or to locate meeting packets and agendas, visit Michigan.gov/UPCAC.

For more information, contact the DNR Upper Peninsula coordinator’s office at 906-226-1331.

The Western Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council draws its membership from 10 counties in the region -- Marquette, Delta, Dickinson, Menominee, Baraga, Iron, Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton and Keweenaw.

The Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council represents Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa counties.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Sen. Stabenow Statement on Great Lakes funding cuts in Trump Administration budget request

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). (Photo courtesy Sen. Stabenow)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, released a statement today on the proposed Trump Administration budget that would make a 90 percent cut to funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:

"The Trump Administration just doesn’t get it and is once again gutting funding for the Great Lakes," Stabenow said. "Just like last year, and the year before, the people of Michigan will make their voices heard and I will lead the bipartisan fight to restore every penny."

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which Senator Stabenow authored in 2010 and has continued to champion, is critical to cleaning up the Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways and fighting invasive species like Asian carp. According to the University Research Corridor, more than 700,000 Michigan jobs, one in five in the state, are tied to water.

During Sen. Stabenow's Apri 2017 visit to Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center, she commented on the need to push back against the Trump Administration's efforts to defund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:

Following a 2017 presentation by Amy Marcarelli, Michigan Tech associate professor of biological sciences, concerning Great Lakes research on invasive species and algal blooms, Sen. Debbie Stabenow comments on the importance of GLRI funding for Great Lakes scientific projects. Seated next to her is former Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz. (File video by Keweenaw Now)*

President Trump proposed cutting funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in his 2017, 2018, and 2019 budget requests. Senator Stabenow led the effort to restore that funding all three years.

* Editor's Note: Click here to read our Apr. 24, 2017, article, "Sen. Debbie Stabenow learns about Michigan Tech's Great Lakes research during visit to GLRC."

Friday, March 01, 2019

Is "Michigan’s Mining Future" a Shared Vision?

This photo of the Triple A Road near Big Bay, Michigan, shows impacts on a previously forested environment caused during construction of the Eagle Mine. (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P., now UPEC's Mining Action Group)

Posted on Feb. 22, 2019, by the Mining Action Group of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition
Reprinted with permission.

 MARQUETTE -- Environmental groups working to protect Upper Michigan’s natural resources from the environmental hazards of metallic mining are questioning the intent of the "Michigan’s Mining Future" legislation, introduced by State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette).

House Bill 4227 would create a governor-appointed "Committee on Michigan’s Mining Future."

The purpose of the advisory-only committee would be to develop "legislative and policy recommendations" to "enhance the growth of the mining, minerals and aggregate industry" and "strengthen and develop a sustainable mining industry in Michigan."

"House Bill 4227, in its focus on economic development, ignores the scope of environmental problems caused by mining," said Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC). "Environmental groups may be invited to the table, but the make-up of this committee suggests the outcome -- more mining -- is almost inevitable. Meanwhile, we are still spending hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up after historic mining booms: polluted lakes and streams, abandoned mines, mercury in wetlands, tailings that threaten Lake Superior fisheries, and more. We advise U.P. residents to keep all options open, rather than going head-long into more disastrous mining cycles."

Jon Magnuson of the Interfaith Northern Great Lakes Water Stewards said, "We applaud Rep. Cambensy’s effort, but raise cautionary questions about the balance of representation on the committee. A larger vision of wise environmental stewardship is required, and the understanding that we must live within 'sustainable' limits in order protect our natural resources."

According to Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) Deputy Policy Director Sean Hammond, MEC cannot support this bill in its present state because it fails to include natural resource protection from mining.

"This legislation in its current state does not provide a good framework to protect Michigan’s precious natural resources when considering future mining projects," Hammond noted. "Although this bill does provide a platform for a needed discussion on the future of mining, especially with continued questions on the implementation of our mining statutes, the way in which it is currently written too heavily favors growing mining, with no mention of natural resource protection. Therefore, we cannot support this bill."

Kathleen Heideman of the Mining Action Group (formerly Save the Wild U.P.), who has studied many mining industry applications for permits to mine in the Upper Peninsula and has challenged several of them at public hearings, questioned the bill's suggestion that mining is central to Michigan's future.*

"I welcome the news that the State may be ready to take a clear-eyed look at mining in the Upper Peninsula," Heideman said. "As the district most impacted by metallic mining, we must understand mistakes of the past and address current regulatory challenges, in order to ensure a 'sustainable' environment going forward. This bill suggests a foregone conclusion: that mining is central to Michigan’s future. Is that true? I am not convinced that we have a shared vision of Michigan’s future."

UPEC Board member Jeffrey Towner said House Bill 4227 in its present form describes a committee that is unbalanced, with environmental and tribal groups underrepresented.

"The long-term impacts to the human environment from mining are at least as, if not more, important than expanding mining operations in Michigan," Towner said. "But the proposed Committee -- three representatives of the mining industry, a union representative, and two faculty members specializing in geology or mining, versus only two representatives of environmental groups -- would relegate those speaking for the environment to token representation, stacking the deck six to two, plus one position for a recognized Native American representative. We suggest that the committee be expanded to include two faculty members with specialties in ecology, water quality, wildlife biology, or a related field, and four, rather than two, representatives of environmental organizations. Only with such a committee makeup will there be a fair balance of interests."

Environmental groups in the U.P. say they were not involved in crafting House Bill 4227.

"In the past 175 years, Michigan’s environment has suffered greatly in the pursuit of mining profits. And in the past ten years, we’ve had enough of the 'economy over environment' paradigm, with environmental agencies doing as much to facilitate the exploitation of our public trust resources as they do to protect them," said Jon Saari, board member of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. "We look forward to meeting with Representative Cambensy to share our vision of Michigan’s future."**

For more info on House Bill 4227, click here. To learn about State Rep. Sara Cambensy and to see her contact information click here.

Notes:

* The UPEC Mining Action Group (MAG), formerly known as Save the Wild U.P., is a grassroots effort to defend the clean water and wild places of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. Contact the Mining Action Group at info@savethewildup.org or call 906-201-1949. Learn more about the Mining Action Group at miningactiongroup.org.

** Founded in 1976, the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition’s purpose remains unchanged: to protect and maintain the unique environmental qualities of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by educating the public and acting as a watchdog to industry and government. UPEC is a nonprofit, registered 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, call 906-201-1949, see UPenvironment.org, or contact: upec@upenvironment.org.

Editor's Note: Michigan House Democrats appear to believe that HB 4227 "would create [a] committee to develop safe, sustainable mining strategies." See "Cambensy Bill Lays Groundwork for Michigan’s Mining Future."

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Anishinabek Nation mourns passing of Grandmother Water Walker Josephine Mandamin

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare greets Grandmother Josephine Mandamin as she arrives at the 2017 Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Assembly in Aamjiwnaang First Nation with other Water Walkers. (Photo courtesy Anishinabek News)

Posted on Feb. 22, 2019, in Anishinabek News* 
Reprinted here with permission.

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE -- The Anishinabek Nation mourns the passing of our Grandmother, our Water Commissioner, our kind and gentle Water Protector, Biidaasige -- Josephine Mandamin.

"It is a very sad day. We have lost a great advocate, teacher, and role model. She will be so deeply missed by all and will be fondly remembered for all of what she did to protect the water. Our prayers are with Josephine as she begins her journey home into the Spirit World and back to her ancestors," expressed Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. "Our thoughts of comfort are with Josephine’s family and community as they prepare for her journey."

Josephine Mandamin, originally from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, and affectionately called Grandmother Water Walker or Grandmother Josephine, dedicated her life to protecting the water and giving it a voice. She made it her life’s mission to raise consciousness about the fragility of water and emphasize that water is precious, sacred, and one of the basic elements required for all life to exist. Water is life.

"Through all of the years of Josephine’s determination and dedication to raise awareness through her legendary Great Lakes Water Walks, it is my hope that the world hears her message -- that water is life!" stated Grand Council Chief Hare. "Our world is a better place because of Josephine’s efforts and those of us who will continue her work to protect our life-giving Nibi, not only to honour her legacy, but to ensure water, the world over, is protected. What a remarkable Anishinaabkwe we have had the absolute pleasure of knowing and learning from."

Grandmother Josephine founded Mother Earth Water Walks -- an initiative that brings awareness to the risks and threats to the health and sustainability of our waterways. Through that initiative, she has walked the shorelines of the five Great Lakes as well as in all four directions of Turtle Island -- bringing water from all oceans together. She has walked the equivalent of half of the earth’s circumference while building awareness about pollution, laws, fracking, and the selling of water.

As part of her advocacy role, she conducted community ceremonies where she would unite communities with water and empower them to start their own water walks to bring awareness to local lakes and watersheds. Grandmother Josephine has touched the lives of many and inspired a whole new generation of water walkers and warriors.

In her capacity as the Chief Commissioner of the Anishinabek Nation Women’s Water Commission, she was a predominant contributor and leader of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council, established under the Great Lakes Protection Act. She was also previously on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in 2006.

She was also honoured with an Anishinabek Nation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation in 2016 for Excellence in Conservation for Water Walks, and received distinctions and honours from the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Sean Atleo, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Ontario Native Women’s Association and from the Mayor of Duluth Minnesota.

* Thanks to Anishinabek News for this article. Please visit their Web site here.

Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now wishes to extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Josephine Mandamin and her fellow water walkers. We had the privilege of meeting Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, her sister Melvina Flamand, and her grandson Joshua Metansinine at Ojibwa Community College in Baraga, where they spoke to Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) members during their 2011 Water Walk.

Josephine Mandamin speaks to water walkers and visitors during the reception held by Keweenaw Bay Indian Community members on June 8, 2011, at Ojibwa Community College in Baraga, Michigan. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Click here to read our Aug. 5, 2011, article, "Updated: KBIC welcomes 2011 Mother Earth Water Walk participants."

UPDATE: Grandmother Josephine would be proud of these water walkers, now on their way from Mackinaw City to Lansing to protest Line 5: "Indigenous trio walks from Mackinaw City to Lansing to call for a shutdown of Line 5."

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Gov. Whitmer signs new Executive Order aimed at cleaning up Michigan’s drinking water

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Photo courtesy Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer)

LANSING -- On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a new executive order to continue moving forward on her commitment to create the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), which will fight for clean drinking water, protect the Great Lakes, mitigate PFAS, and address climate change. The new executive order was issued to replace Executive Order 2019-2, which was voted down on a party-line vote by the Michigan Legislature.*

"Every Michigander deserves safe, clean drinking water, and I’m not going to let partisan politics slow down the important work that needs to get done right now to protect public health," said Whitmer. "That’s why I’m taking action to sign this new executive order so we can start cleaning up our drinking water, protect the Great Lakes, and take action to address climate change."

This new Executive Order, 2019-6, restructures the Department of Environmental Quality as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, which will be focused on improving the quality of Michigan’s air, land, and water, protecting public health, and encouraging the use of clean energy. The new department will oversee Offices of Climate and Energy, Clean Water Public Advocate, and Environmental Justice Public Advocate and will serve as a full-time guardian of the Great Lakes, our freshwater, and our public water supplies. EO 2019-6 requires submission to the legislature and takes effect after 60 days.

Per the order, the Environmental Science Advisory Board will be eliminated. The Environmental Rules Review Committee and the Environmental Permit Review Commission will remain intact while the governor awaits a response from the Attorney General on the legality of these commissions. 

Executive Order 2019-2 received strong bipartisan support from Michigan businesses, environmental groups, and advocates such as Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Governor Snyder’s former director of the Department of Environmental Quality, Heidi Grether.  

To view the full executive order, EO 2019-6, click here.

*Editor's Note: See our Feb. 6, 2019, article, "Michigan Gov. Whitmer signs executive orders, directive to protect water, combat climate change; legislators oppose her efforts."

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Michigan Attorney General joins states opposing Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (Photo courtesy Michigan.gov)

LANSING -- (Feb. 18, 2019) Calling President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency "a manufactured crisis," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 15 other states to seek an injunction against the president’s actions.

The states joined forces in opposition to the president to "protect revenue, natural resources and economic interests" from Trump’s "flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers." The president’s declaration will redirect federal funding already appropriated for the states and divert it toward building a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico.

"This fake emergency is a publicity stunt that will raid our federal funding and cost us millions," said Nessel. "We cannot in good conscience stand by while our president seeks to undermine our own efforts to keep our residents safe and our military strong."

The Michigan National Guard has more than 10,000 soldiers and airmen, employs a substantial number of employees on a full-time basis, and operates more than 40 facilities in the state. The Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs receives a majority of its funding from the federal government. It performs missions training and prepares citizen soldiers and airmen to respond to, among other things, state emergency response, military support, and protection of local communities. Loss of funding negatively impacts this vital service for the State of Michigan.

Joining Attorney General Nessel in the lawsuit led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

Editor's Note: Moveon.org reports thousands protested against Trump's national emergency declaration on President's Day, Feb. 18, in events across 48 states. Click here for photos.