Sierra Club Goes the Extra Mile for Michigan’s Climate Bills


Renner Barsella,
Sarah Tresedder,

Lansing, MI - After months of advocacy, lobbying, and engagement Michigan finally acted to curb climate change driven by the utility sector. Passed by the State House late last night, Senate Bills  271, 273, and 502 move Michigan towards a clean energy future. They also reduce energy waste and give more power to the Michigan Public Service Commision (MPSC)--the body that oversees electrical utility regulation. 

Sierra Club members and staff fought dirty utility money and industry lobbyists every step of the way. What Michigan accomplished is only possible because Sierra Club members weighed in, especially at the last minute, to keep the most important components of this bill package intact and get it across the finish line.

Sierra Club is especially supportive of SB 273, which makes Michigan a national leader in energy efficiency. Sierra Club supports other parts of the package in SB 271 and SB 502. SB 271 requires Michigan utilities to meet the 100% clean energy mandate for electricity generation by 2040, and SB 502 gives the MPSC tools to protect public health and achieve our climate, affordability, and equity goals.

Further improvements include: 

  • SB 271 prohibits plastic and tire burning from any definition of “clean” or renewable energy. The Sierra Club opposes plastic burning schemes masquerading as recycling, and staff kept a close watch during the legislative process to make sure petrochemical companies kept their hands off our renewable energy bill. 
  • SB 502 increases funding and expands participation for the Utility Citizen Participation Board, and requires that utilities account for the impacts of energy production on environmental justice communities. 

Utility lobbyists still have too much power in Lansing, but Sierra Club fought every step of the way to stop the worst excesses of fossil fuel corruption. In particular, Sierra Club went to the mat to support EJ activists’ demand  to remove the Kent County Trash Incinerator carve-out in the definition of renewable energy. Trash incineration is not renewable energy, and burning trash harms public health by releasing dangerous chemicals into the air and creating toxic ash. Kent County’s trash incinerator remained in the final version of the package, albeit with some modifications to the carve out it was first granted at the request of lawmakers. There is clearly more work to be done, but Sierra Club is proud to have put the climate package across the finish line. 

“Thanks to thousands of calls made into lawmaker’s offices, countless messages to leaders, and dozens of in-person meetings, Michigan lawmakers finally took action to tackle climate change,” said Christy McGillivray, Sierra Club Michigan’s Legislative and Political Director

“Now Michigan is ready to take advantage of federal funding to supercharge our transition to renewable energy generation. But climate change is a big problem, and we’ve got more to do–especially when it comes to tackling greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and the solid waste industry. The partnerships and power Sierra Club built to get our climate package across the finish line means we are ready for the next fight,” said Tim Minotas, Sierra Club Michigan’s Deputy Legislative and Political Director.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit