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 What a year 2023 has been! Going into this year, we set a very ambitious agenda for protecting Michigan’s water and combating the climate crisis. Together, we have been able to achieve much - from historic investments in our state budget for water infrastructure, addressing water affordability, and ensuring that all Michigan schools and daycare centers have lead-free drinking water systems to repealing “No Stricter Than Federal” and continuing to play a lead role in the ongoing fight to shut down the Line 5 pipeline.

2023 has been a year of change and a year of some big victories to protect our water and our planet, but more remains to be done and the fight continues. We could not have achieved what we have without friends and supporters like you, and I am grateful to have you in the fight with us!

Here is just some of the work we've been up to over the past year:

Sean McBrearty and Bill Latka holding a Shut Down Line 5 signs next to Mackinac Island

Line 5

The campaign to shut down  Enbridge’s dangerous and unnecessary Line 5 pipeline has been one of the most galvanizing and hard-fought campaigns in Michigan history. While several lawsuits surrounding Line 5 continue to proceed through the courts and permitting agencies like the US Army Corps of Engineers decide whether or not to let Enbridge build an oil tunnel underneath 20% of the world’s fresh water, we continue to push federal lawmakers and administration officials to act in the best interests of the Great Lakes and shut down Line 5 before it ruptures.

Governor Whitmer has revoked Enbridge’s easement to operate Line 5, and last year a federal judge ruled that Enbridge is trespassing on the sovereign territory of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In 2023, Clean Water Action and the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition have been gathering support across the Great Lakes watershed and nationwide to take action on this ticking time bomb for our climate and our freshwater resources. President Biden has all the reason he needs to revoke Enbridge’s Presidential Permit for Line 5 and shut the pipeline down permanently.

When we win, this will be the first time that an operating pipeline is shut down due to state action before it ruptures and could be the beginning of a watershed moment in our efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground and move away from polluting energy sources.

Dr Nichole Keway Biber next to Lake Huron wearing a "No Line 5 Tunnel" shirt.

In 2023 we welcomed a new staff member to our team, Mid-Michigan campaign organizer Dr. Nichole Keway Biber!

Water Affordability

For years, Clean Water Action and many allies have been working to create a state level water affordability program in Michigan. In January, we joined a stakeholder group organized and led by Senator Stephanie Chang to develop a strong bill package ensuring that Michigan families have access to affordable drinking water. After 9 months of meetings with over 80 different stakeholder groups, our water affordability package was introduced with broad support from impacted community members, non-profits, and many water utilities and governmental agencies. After hearings in both chambers of the legislature in the fall of 2023, we intend to keep organizing to ensure that these bills are passed before the 2024 election.

Our work for water affordability has been bolstered by written letters, phone calls, and comments from thousands of Clean Water Action members like you across the state. The passion and activism of our members is really where our collective impact begins. Our movement is built from the bottom up and without your ongoing support, none of this would be possible.

Michigan staff on World Water Day gathering on the Michigan Capitol Steps

In March, Clean Water Action joined fellow water affordability advocates in Lansing for Michigan World Water Day

Our Energy Future

As we look towards the future of energy in Michigan, it is imperative that the people of our state gain more control of our power. Major monopoly utilities like DTE and Consumers Energy have proven time and again that they can’t be trusted. Michigan ratepayers pay some of the highest rates in the country for some of the least reliable service while shareholders and executives walk away with record profits. Ensuring local control of our energy and utility accountability is a critical component of our climate justice work. That’s why this year, Clean Water and several allies released Coming Together for Equitable Public Power, a landmark report exploring the advantages of municipally owned energy utilities. As we move forward towards 2024, ensuring that utilities are held accountable and that communities are centered in decision-making around our energy grid remain top priorities.

Erik McCleary at the mic at a Public Power gathering in Ann Arbor. Photo Jennifer Schlicht.

SE Michigan Organizer Erik McCleary traveled across MI and the Midwest listening, researching, organizing, and advocating for clean, affordable, and reliable public power energy solutions

Making Polluters Pay

Our work to hold polluting corporations accountable has also accelerated this year. Thanks to our efforts over the last several years shining a spotlight on corporate polluters like Tribar Manufacturing, Wolverine Worldwide, 3M, Dow Chemical and others, we are closer now than at any point in the last thirty years to passing polluter pay legislation. On October 25th 2023 the Polluter Pay Package of bills was introduced in the Michigan legislature. And with over 24,000 contaminated sites across Michigan, this issue could not be more urgent. Polling shows that 95% of Michigan voters want polluting corporations to be held accountable, and we’re going to keep the pressure on state lawmakers to ensure that they follow through.

Clean Water Canvass Staff with "Hold Polluters Accountable" and "Make A Mess Clean It Up" signs

Clean Water Action has prioritized bringing back Michigan Polluter Pay for years, with our canvass teams gathering support across the state for the legislation.

Winning For Water With Your Support

Over the last 50 years, Clean Water Action has been able to accomplish so much to ensure a cleaner, healthier, and safer environment for all Michigan residents. Our work this year has built on our past successes and we will continue fighting to hold corporations accountable, to take real action on the climate crisis, to protect the Great Lakes, and to ensure that all people have access to safe, healthy, affordable drinking water. As we continue this important work, I know we can count on your support.

From everyone here at Clean Water Action, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, and restful holiday season!

A heart and a water drop formed out of stones on Lake Michigan beach. Credit Jen Schlicht.