Be it the majesty of the Great Lakes or the shame of Flint’s water crisis, Michigan is undeniably known for its close relationship to H2O. Michigan Clean Water is a nonprofit dedicated to making sure that its water stays pure and clean. Its work is vital in this age of constant pollution and apocalyptic climate change.
The group has a national presence, but it’s been working in Michigan since the mid-’80s. “We’re in East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Clinton Township. We work on issues to protect the Great Lakes and drinking water. We work for air quality, environmental justice and water affordability,” said director Mary Brady-Enerson. “We also work on issues related to corporate responsibility, making polluters pay for what they create or contamination that they leave behind.”
MI Clean Water Action is the statewide coordinator of the Oil and Water Don’t Mix campaign. It is focused on shutting down Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline, which runs through the straits of Mackinac.
“We do all of this work through the support of Michiganders across the state,” said Brady-Enerson. “We do operate a year-round professional field canvas. We go out and talk to people face-to-face on their doorsteps. We educate them about a variety of issues; talk to them about legislation in Lansing or D.C.; ask them to get involved; maybe write a letter to their legislators.”
Brady-Enerson said that the state government is taking some action to protect Michigan’s water, but it’s generally a mixed bag. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have taken great steps, but it gets more complicated in the legislature.
“They’ve been champions for the environment for water, people and public health,” said Brady-Enerson. “Some folks in the legislature have introduced really solid policy to protect our climate. But for every one of those folks, there’s a few in Lansing who are not doing such a great job prioritizing the environment.”
She noted that there are also phenomenal champions of the environment working at the federal level. Complications from PFAS, climate change, accessible drinking water and shutting down pipelines are all major issues to MI Clean Water Action. Congress and the Biden Administration have made progress in addressing them.
“We have been pleased so far,” said Brady-Enerson. “But still, for every person in Congress who’s good, there’s another one who’s not representing the interest of Michiganders. Across the political spectrum, we support the protection of the Great Lakes and care about our environment.”
MI Clean Water Action is focused on giving people the information they need in order to make informed decisions at the ballot box. It wants to make sure that politicians are held accountable for the decisions they make about the environment. To do so, spreading information and informing Michigan residents is key.
“We let people know what politicians’ voting records are on environmental issues,” said Brady-Enerson. “We also find the folks who are encouraging good policies and encourage people to vote for them. We kind of play offense and defense in that sense.”
Getting involved with MI Clean Water Action is easy. The organization accepts all the support it can get. You can simply listen when one of its members knocks on your door, donate some cash or become a member yourself. Any contribution to the cause is appreciated.
“Take that two minutes to listen to a canvasser, sign a support letter, send that letter to your local legislator,” said Brady-Enerson. “Anything helps us continue the work that we’re doing each day.”
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