Healthy Great Lakes, Healthy Michigan
YOU can help protect and restore our precious Great Lakes.
The Sierra Club Great Lakes Program has new resources to help you learn about issues that affect your Great Lakes, so that you can help restore and protect them. A Citizen's Guide to Protecting the Great Lakes is packed with information and images, and personal actions citizens across the Great Lakes region can take to protect the lakes, plus guidance for writing letters to elected and government agency officials. Its truly an important document that will help you be a better Great Lakes protecter. Download the Citizen's Guide here. You can also follow and contribute to the Sierra Club Great Lakes Blog!
Below are links to Michigan Sierra Club campaigns to protect our Great Lakes and their tributaries. Click the links to learn more about each topic, and how you can join in.
Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan
A new gas and oil rush is taking place in the Great Lakes State.
The huge potential for natural gas reserves that are embedded in Collingwood and Utica shale led to a record-setting state lease sale in the northern Lower Peninsula last spring of 2010, with more sales taking place in late October 2010. The technique for extracting this gas is called hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. The process involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, chemicals, and sand into fissures in the shale, to widen the fissures sufficiently for gas to flow. While this general technique has been used for many years in Michigan Antrim shale drilling, its use in the Collingwood/Utica shale deposits introduces new serious concerns about water and air pollution.
Great Lakes Protection
The Great Lakes hold one fifth of the worlds fresh surface water and currently provide drinking water to over 42 million people. Yet each day, our Lakes are damaged economically and ecologically by untreated sewage, industrial pollutants and invasive species. Unless we invest in solutions today, the price we will pay tomorrow will be much higher and future generations may never experience the Lakes as we know them.
All About Animal Factories
One of the biggest threats to the quality of our water in Michigan are factory farms, huge corporate entities that warehouse thousands of animals on parcels of land too small to accommodate the amount of manure generated. These polluting animal factories are everywhere, and even if you live in a large city, you're affected by them. Learn what they are and what you can do to help shut down factory farms for good in Michigan.
Animal Factory Pollution: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
Massive animal factories house thousands of livestock in close quarters, producing as much untreated animal sewage as cities. These facilities are growing in numbers throughout Michigan's rural landscape. Sierra Club has led the fight to protect the health and economic well-being of Michigan's rural communities by working to bring these operations under the same kinds of environmental and health regulations as all other industries. Recently, we testified before the Congressional Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure about the impacts of CAFOs on our Great Lakes. Find out more about it and how to help protect Michigan's rural waters and Great Lakes here.
Stopping CAFO Pollution
If you are facing problems from an existing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or are fighting to stop the approval of a new CAFO, the smartest thing you can do is to figure out how to help state agencies get the information and political support they need to enforce the laws. Click here to learn how to do that, and how to fight back to protect your community from the pollution of CAFOs.
Water Sentinels are documenting water quality in the Salmon Trout, the Yellow Dog, and the Menominee River watersheds in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They're tracking pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the River Raisin and the Maumee River watersheds (and many other rivers) in southern Michigan. The Bad Axe High School Biology Club is testing water in the Pinnebog River watershed in Michigan's Thumb. Volunteers began testing Gratiot County's Pine River in 2002, and 2007 marked the first year of water testing in Lansing's Grand River, and a major effort to remove debris from the Grand during a summer drawdown. We're looking for volunteers to help test Lake Huron swimming beaches in a new project this summer, and for volunteers to help in all our projects. Where would you like to help out?
Michigan has a long history of manufacturing and industry. Our rivers provided an abundant source of fresh water. Deposits of various kinds of elemental materials, like bromine and salts provided some of the raw materials for chemical manufacturing. Our vast forests provided the timber and pulp for paper and other wood products. Our people provided the drive and ingenuity, and our land, water and roads provided the ways and means for development, building, and distribution of the goods. Unfortunately, many of the sites where our greatest manufacturing has taken place are now polluted with leftover waste products, much of it toxic. Today Michigan is cleaning up some of those sites of environmental contamination - but much more needs to be done. Find out more here.
Sulfide Mining in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Michigan's long history of copper and iron mining began when Native Americans used Michigan copper thousands of years ago. Michigan's first state geologist Douglass Houghton publicized our copper to the nation in 1841. Today mining companies are prospecting for different high risk metals in the U.P., including uranium and metals in sulfide ores. Sulfides chemically react with air and water to form sulfuric acid, and cause acid mine drainage. Uranium mining has harmed many people in our western states, causing cancer and other life-threatening problems. Neither type of mining has ever been done without significant harm to water and land. Find out what Sierra Club is doing about it.