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Opinion | Michigan’s Blue Trifecta must deliver for Great Lakes, not DTE

For the first time in decades, Michigan leaders have the power and convictions necessary to take bold climate action. Our pro-environment trifecta was not a foregone conclusion on November 8th.

Elayne Elliott is the new director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

Recent reporting shows that a dark money group with ties to DTE Energy contributed funds to stymie Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID emergency powers, and dark money attacks came fast and furious against pro-environment candidates literally because of our Sierra Club endorsement. 

However, even with deceptive dark money spreading misinformation, Michiganders didn’t buy it. 

Michiganders support Governor Whitmer for issuing the shut down order for Enbridge Line 5, and we back state legislative candidates ready to invest in renewable energy. This is a huge win for the Great Lakes State, but now we have to turn words into action. Now is not the time to be complacent. 

As the new director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, I represent more than 150,000 of our Michigan members. Our members are committed to fighting climate change, protecting the Great Lakes and holding polluters accountable. 

On January 11, I was honored to join Vice President Harris, as well as National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, implementation chief John Podesta, infrastructure advisor Mitch Landrieu and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory for a private meeting at the White House. 

Vice President Harris called on the Michigan Chapter to help ensure funds from the Inflation Reduction Act are spent equitably to fight climate change. We are answering her call. 

With unprecedented federal dollars coming to our state and new leadership in Lansing, we finally have the opportunity to address climate change and invest in all communities in Michigan.  However, Lansing's dark money runs deep and we must work extra hard to show our political leaders that we will stand with them if they stand against polluters’ lobbyists. 

When Vice President Harris visited Michigan, she said “We can’t wait one more minute — we have to act now on climate.” This sentiment was echoed in Gov. Whitmer’s State of the State address last month when she stated “it is our shared duty to face climate change head-on and protect our land and water.” 

They’re right. Michigan plays a key role in properly spending the $1 trillion dollars our federal leaders have pledged to fight climate change. How we invest these dollars will determine how our state adapts to the consequences of climate change and how our communities will fare in the face of an uncertain future.

Michiganders voted for clean renewable energy and Great Lakes protections, in spite of dark money attacking pro-environment candidates. The Sierra Club is thrilled to have played a big part in that victory, and we will continue to turn up and turn out for leaders that deliver on their election platforms. 

We’re not resting or taking a victory lap, we’re rolling up our sleeves now that we have the actual power required to protect our Great Lakes. In the words of Big Gretch, “Let’s get it done.”

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