Say No Natural Gas in Dearborn, Michigan

By the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit hearing
5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 27 at Edsel Ford High School
(Last day that MDEQ is accepting public comment for this permit.)
Can’t attend?
Sign on to the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center comments to the MDEQ.

cropped-mejc_logo_colorMichigan is at a crossroads in the decision to rapidly expand Natural Gas, phasing out coal, and Dearborn Michigan is in the crosshairs.  Approximately two months ago, over 300 people showed up at a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hearing to tell Consumers Energy that a new natural gas plant in South Dearborn would negatively impact the community’s health. The new plant was unwanted and unwelcome. The following week, the company rescinded that proposal.

On Tuesday, March 20, residents gathered again in Dearborn to learn about yet another proposed natural gas plant, this time by DTE Energy. Located at the Ford Research and Engineering Facility, the gas plant would be within a one mile radius of five schools and Beaumont Hospital. At the hearing, public health scholar Dr. Amy Schulz from the University of Michigan School of Public Health explained that South Dearborn and West Dearborn are already overburdened by air pollution, putting vulnerable populations including children, pregnant mothers and their unborn children at risk. Some of the air pollutants that will be coming out of the DTE natural gas facility would exacerbate illnesses like lung disease, increase cardiovascular risks and in some cases contribute to increases in cancer rates and lead to death.


What we also learned at that event from attorney Nicholas Leonard at the Great Lakes Lakes Environmental Law Center, is the permit put forward by DTE to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality leaves much to be desired. Many serious questions are left unanswered including:

Are all of the pollution calculations that DTE Energy used to estimate emissions coming from their smokestack accounted for?

Is the company using the best technology to mitigate the pollution coming out of the smokestacks? From Leonard’s estimations, the company did not include spikes in pollution emissions caused during start up and shut down of the facility which may happen 136 times annually.

Further, his research resulted in finding that the exact same type of facilities in California and Massachusetts have used technology that has reduced pollution by significantly greater amounts. DTE  has failed to include this improved technology as options here in Michigan. It should be investigating and incorporating them for the best protections of a community already overburdened by pollution. The company is also not including continuous monitoring of pollution, making residents and advocates using guess work as towhat happens in between periodic emissions testing.

But the larger question remains, when will Michigan residents have a fair chance to give input into what kind of energy Michigan actually deserves– cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy. MDEQ gives us just 40 days – basically the time one has to pay a phone or a cable bill- to respond to a permit for a facility that may be running for 30 years or more. We need the time to iterate that Michigan needs solar panels and wind farms, not more dirty energy that results in volatile costs for consumers, climate causing methane emissions, or an increased mortality – not only of the people that live around it and the workers of the plants – but by the natural systems that depend on the environment from the extraction point to the smokestack. Because even the best technology of today will be old and outdated tomorrow, and we’re literally sick of and from dirty energy.

The public should question the rush to natural gas. Michiganders deserve a say about what kinds of energy our Great Lakes State is producing because, frankly, we don’t have a choice whether to breathe or not. MDEQ has a decision to make that will impact the health of our children, families, and communities, the workers and the economy.




Slow Food West Michigan awards grant to OKT

SFWMLogo-e1425570965857Slow Food West Michigan has awarded OKT a you $500 grant to fund our heirloom greens and herbs project, which is part of our food growing project with students and households of Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy. The heirloom herbs to be grown include basil, sage, cilantro, rosemary and more. Students will also be planting a variety of vegetables and fruit plants. The produce will be used for healthy school-day snacks and shared with students’ households.

Blandford Farm is in the process of starting the herb plants for OKT. OKT will also provide seeds, window boxes and containers, soil and soil amendments, and a garden coach to oversee the project.

Please support the Walk for Good Food! 

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As food pantries across the nation begin to look at root causes of hunger and under-nutrition, they are beginning to address the injustices in the food system that make food charity a necessity. Access of West Michigan has been on the leading edge of this movement, as is reflected in the new name they’ve given their annual fund-raising walk, The Walk for Good Food.

Please support the Walk for Good Food! The Southeast Area Farmers’ Market is one of the recipients of Walk funds — and OKT manages the market! Open from the first Saturday in July to the second Saturday in November at Grand Rapids’ Martin Luther King Jr. Park, our market ‘s vendors are primarily women of color from Grand Rapids’ Southeast neighborhoods. Most of our sales are completed with food assistance dollars. Because the market takes part in the Double Up Food Bucks program,  our patrons using SNAP benefits can purchase twice as much fresh, local produce. This means that our neighbors with income challenges can feed their households even more nutritious food –even though they live in neighborhoods that otherwise have very limited access to healthy foods.

When you support the walk you support the market. Sign up today to join the OKT walk team or pledge your support through an online donation. OKT also seeks corporate donors to be our sponsors for the event. Download the corporate sponsor packet here.

Oakdale Community Garden seeking garden stewards

oakOakdale Gardens Park, corner of Evergreen St SE and Marshall Ave SE, near River City Scholars Charter Academy, reserves some beds as sharing gardens that anyone may harvest from. They are looking for one or more people who’d like to take charge of the herb bed and flower bed.

While both beds have a mix of perennials and self-seeding annuals,  the new stewards would be free to redesign the plantings and add signage.

Priorities are to grow herbs that people can use for cooking, tea, or medicinally, and flowers that people can use for cut flowers or flower crafts. The stewards can work in the beds whenever their schedules permit Oakdale Gardens Park during, and may enjoy joining one of the posted weekly gathering times. For information, email and

OKT tabling at Women & the Environment Service Fair

Artboard-Copy-3-845x321The Women and the Environment  Service Fair hosts dozens of non-profits at Linc Up, 1167 Madison Ave. SE, Saturday Feb. 24 from 10 a.m. to  1 p.m.  Community organizations, including OKT,  will be looking for people like you to step up and volunteer to protect our community.

The 7th Annual Women and the Environment Symposium will be spread across the community from February 19th through February 27th. Events will highlight various aspects of how women advocate for themselves, for others, and for the environment. The event will culminate with our keynote speaker and awards reception on February 27th.

This year’s multi-day symposium will deliver inspiring social and learning opportunities throughout Grand Rapids, raise awareness towards actionable environmental issues in the community, bring together a wide-ranging network of women, as well as provide connections and resources for civic engagement. Hundreds of women and men participate annually.

The Women and Environment Symposium will include:

  • A networking night
  • An advocacy workshop with skills development
  • A community organization service fair featuring local nonprofits
  • An environmental justice film with a panel discussion
  • Culminating with a keynote lecture and reception with Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, at Grand Valley State University Charles W. Loosemore Auditorium