Environmental Stewardship and Activism
By Cybelle Shattuck

For people who care deeply about being in right relationship with nature, these are worrisome times. The foxes (climate deniers, fossil fuel CEOs) are in charge of the hen house and there are weekly stories about new threats to the environment.

But all is not lost. As citizens, we do have power over decisions about our natural resources—and making your voice heard is a good antidote to the numbness created by a constant drumbeat of chaos and conflict. You may have heard that the Department of the Interior is reviewing boundaries and regulations for numerous national parks and protected areas, with a goal of opening lands for oil and gas drilling. Our power to counter these threats comes from federal processes, which require that any new plans for public lands be presented for public comment and that all comments be addressed. If DOI tries to mess with our national parks, we can speak up: as recreational areas, biodiversity preserves, and carbon sinks these lands benefit all of the American people, not just wealthy oil companies. There is bipartisan support for preserving our parks.

We can also participate in decisions about nature here in Michigan. The MDEQ is deciding how to deal with Enbridge’s aged Line 5 oil pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Straits. A University of Michigan study determined that a spill would be catastrophic for Great Lakes ecosystems and economies. Indigenous communities and other water protectors are working hard to make sure that citizens’ voices are heard. As each new report comes out, Michiganders have opportunities to contribute to the process. The DEQ is accepting comments on a report about alternatives to the pipeline through August 4. Check this site for analysis of the report and a link to their comment letter http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/comment_to_shutdown?splash=1 or comment through MDEQ’s pipeline webpage: https://mipetroleumpipelines.com/

Closer to home, we can contribute to decisions about the Kalamazoo River cleanup. The EPA has submitted a list of options for removing contamination in Otsego, which is open for comments through August 30. For information and comment submissions: https://www.epa.gov/mi/forms/kalamazoo-river-proposed-plan-public-comment

This summer, enjoy our marvelous parks. Michigan is blessed with a national park (Isle Royale), two national lakeshores (Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictures Rocks), and numerous state parks. While you are there, store up memories for use personalizing letters to your representatives when it comes time to exercise your power as a citizen. If you’re over 62, ask about the National Parks lifetime senior pass. There’s a big price increase on August 28.

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