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Sierra Club makes case for Detroit’s support of Proposal 3

By Patrick Geans- Ali
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune visited Detroit to make the case for the organization’s endorsement of Proposal 3, the Michigan Clean Energy Initiative, at a special press conference held at the Sierra Club Detroit office on Oct. 29. Brune was joined by Sierra Club Environmental Justice organizer Rhonda Anderson and Michigan Interfaith Power and Lights’ Father Charles Morris in speaking at the event, which was followed by a volunteer phone bank to advocate for the proposal.

Sierra Club

From left: Vincent Martin, Rhonda Anderson, Desmond Dennis, Michael Brune, Alisha Withers
and Father Charles Morris at Sierra Club Detroit Office on Oct. 29.

“I am in Michigan because passing Proposal 3 is one of the biggest priorities for the Sierra Club this year,” said Brune. “People in Detroit deserve clean air and clean water just like people in the rest of the state do. People in Michigan in general deserve a clean energy future just like other states.”

Thirty other states have passed similar legislation requiring energy providers to transition from polluting energy sources like coal and nuclear power to alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal. The proposal requires Michigan utility companies like Detroit Edison (DTE) to move from the current requirement of 10 percent alternative energy sources to 25 percent by 2025.

Despite claims from DTE and opponents of Proposal 3, utility costs in each of the 30 other states where similar measures have been enacted have decreased. The proposal also stipulates that only a maximum increase of one percent (or 50 cents a month) could result from the requirement — if justified to the state’s energy regulatory commission.

“If Iowa can get 25 percent of their power from wind, why can’t Michigan? If South Dakota can get to almost 30 percent of their power from wind, why can’t Michigan? If Colorado and California can almost get to 30 percent, then why can’t Michigan?” Brune said.

“There is entrenched power in the fossil fuel industry right now. They are sponsoring all these ads that you see on television and it’s designed to manufacture confusion. We know that with more clean energy production, our air and water will be cleaner and there will be less asthma and mercury pollution. Jobs will improve with good-paying jobs that can’t be exported. And, we’ve got a chance at improving our climate.”

Anderson, who is a life-long resident of Detroit and grew up in River Rouge where DTE has one of two coal-fired power plants in the Detroit Metro area, pointed out that utility companies have already continually raised rates for Detroiters, who already pay the highest rates in the state. Anderson added that instead of being misled by opponents of Prop 3, Detroiters could use the same price decreases, health improvements and job opportunities other states have gained.

“There is a lot of talk going around in the city of Detroit about why (people should) oppose Prop 3, but when was the last time DTE did Detroiters any favors?” Anderson said. “If your utilities or your gas was shut off, you could go down and plead with them and you are only going to get so far.

“We just left a meeting where there was a discussion around a cancer cluster study done around the city of Detroit. The results of this cancer cluster study were unbelievable. The rates of cancer in Detroit and Wayne County far outweigh any rates of cancer in the rest of the state. So, we need relief. We need clean air now. We need clean jobs now. We need clean water now. This should not be a situation where we are thought of after the fact.”


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