SOTS, pandemic updates, Charlotte Jameson on the Enbridge Line 5 tunnel approved by EGLE

February 1, 2021

Michigan Policast for Monday, February 1, 2021

  In this episode:

  • Governor Whitmer State of the State
  • COVID-19 updates
  • Charlotte Jameson of Michigan Environmental Council on the Line 5 tunnel
  • Jennifer Granholm confirmation hearing
  • Political notes
  • Transcript

Featured image:  Enbridge Line 6B ruptured near the Kalamazoo River in July 2010, causing one of the largest inland oil spills in US history. (Image courtesy of NRDC.).  Inset:  Enbridge is still cleaning up three years after Kalamazoo River oil spill

Jump to:

Governor Whitmer State of the State



Everybody knows who @GovWhitmer is, 2/3 of the people say she's doing a good job on #COVID19. Nobody knows who Speaker of @MI_Republicans is. He has minimal platform and minimal leverage. She has a full deck, he has to bluffClick To Tweet
.@MI_Republicans @MiSenate can't refuse to allocate federal $$ to be used for #COVID19 relief and say it's @GovWhitmer's fault because she won't treat us better. The people don't care about that. They need help.Click To Tweet


COVID-19 updates




Charlotte Jameson of Michigan Environmental Council on the Line 5 tunnel

We strongly disagree with @MichiganEGLE's decision on the #Line5 tunnel, but EGLE believes the existing statute gives them no other recourse than to issue the tunnel permits. ~@CharJameson @MichEnvCouncil Click To Tweet
.@MichEnvCouncil @TOMWCouncil @NWFGreatLakes and Grand Traverse Band are pushing back on the remaining legal processes that #Enbridge needs to clear for approval on #Line5. ~@CharJameson Click To Tweet
.@GovWhitmer's UP Energy Task Force found a number of alternatives that can deliver propane to the UP so that #Line5 isn't necessary. Longer-term we need to transition off propane and fossil fuels. ~@CharJameson #ClimateChangeClick To Tweet
As climate advocates, our heads are still spinning because we've gone from 4 yrs of climate denialism to what is one of the most comprehensive announcements from any US president on #ClimateChange ~@CharJameson ~@MichEnvCouncil Click To Tweet
There's a lot of opportunity under our Michigan Environmental Protection Act, to take climate change into account in agency decision making. That's something we'd like to see the state fully embrace. ~@CharJameson @MichEnvCouncilClick To Tweet


Jennifer Granholm confirmation hearing



Political notes









Walt Sorg  00:06

This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan politics and policy in the national stories impacting our pleasant peninsula.


Gretchen Whitmer  00:13

While Common Ground seems less and less common these days, it's never been more important that we work toward it. I know you're used to me saying fix the damn roads. This year. Let's also fix the damn road ahead. Let's find common ground to grow our economy, get families and businesses back on their feet. It starts by ending the pandemic. The health of our economy is inextricably linked to the health of our people. Effectively rebuilding our economy this year, requires that we protect public health. And that hurdle is cleared easier and quicker if we work together.


Walt Sorg  00:54

Governor Whitmer state of the state address focuses on united action as we battled the COVID-19 pandemic, but legislative Republicans seem more intent on partisan warfare. We'll look at the ongoing power struggle between the two branches and the supply demand challenge and getting Michigan vaccinated.


Christine Barry  01:10

I'm Christine Barry. The state's Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy gives the go ahead to building a new pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. Environmentalists are not happy. Our guest this week, Charlotte Jameson of the Michigan Environmental Coalition,


Walt Sorg  01:26

and Jennifer Granholm finesses concerns of the fossil fuel industry in a Senate hearing as the designated Secretary of Energy. We begin though with the governor's most unusual state of the state address unusual because it had no in person audience. Unlike typical state of the state speeches that had very little in the way of new initiatives. And the governor did take the high road refusing to engage in partisan tit for tat with legislative Republicans, instead calling on Republicans to work cooperatively,


Gretchen Whitmer  01:55

the deep divisions in our country are present here in Michigan to this year, I will launch a fixing the damn road ahead tour to engage with and listen to Michiganders, young and old, Republicans, Democrats and independents from Lake Superior to Lake Michigan to Lake Huron to Lake Erie and everywhere in between, to focus on what unites us improve how we talk to each other. And together, we'll fix the damn road ahead. My mission is to find common ground so we can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.


Walt Sorg  02:36

Well, Christine, what do you think who wins in this battle between the governor and the legislature? The high ground or the low road?


Christine Barry  02:43

Well, clearly it's the governor. And you know, you mentioned the low road. I mean, let's talk about that for a minute. That is the legislature saying we want to work with her, but we will block everything and fight her until she accepts us as an equal branch in the government, which is not only the wrong way to deal with Gretchen Whitmer. I mean, I don't know if anybody's ever met Gretchen Whitmer, or seen if these people have seen how she acted over her decades of public service. But bullying her doesn't work. So that's that's one thing. And I do believe that she really does want to engage with people and listen to them, and let them express to her what's going on. I don't know how she does it like logistically if this is a virtual tour, or if she's really going out and, you know, finding a way to make sure that everybody is following protocol.


Walt Sorg  03:37

It's also the start of a reelection campaign.


Christine Barry  03:39

Oh, no doubt. Yeah. But I think that, you know, considering the fact like we just looked at polls in December, she had a 63% approval rating on her handling of the pandemic. And this is much higher than the Republican legislature. In fact, the Michigan voters who were polled only 40.9% of them wanted the republicans to work with her on the pandemic. And the legislature is it still an equal branch of government, Walt, even though they say they are, they just don't have purview over the Department of Health and Human Services.


Walt Sorg  04:15

Well, their initial response to the governor's state of the state address was in the State Senate to immediately reject 13 of our appointees to relatively non controversial appointees to various state Commission's and physicians. And they just said, we're not going to approve anybody until you cave in does what we want when it comes to continuing winter sports for high school athletes, and reopening the schools and reopening the restaurants completely or at least a 50% and basically ceding your power to us. They even introduced a bill which would take away power from both the state and local health departments and give it to the legislature when it came to certain aspects of pauses in segments of the economy. The Speaker of the House said he's ready to lock arms and compromise with the governor. But I really can't call her a partner until she shows she wants to be a partner. Now, here's the quiz for our listeners. And it's actually it's a quiz for me, too. What's the name of the Speaker of the House? Nobody knows.


Christine Barry  05:18

I know I have it.


Walt Sorg  05:19

I'm looking at it right now. And I have to look it up. Yeah. And that's where she starts ahead. Everybody knows who Gretchen Whitmer is two thirds of the people think she's doing a good job on this. Nobody knows who the Speaker of the House is. He's got a minimal platform, and he's got minimal leverage when it comes to public opinion. Now, he's got more leverage in republican districts where there's more pushback against some of the restrictions that have been in place, especially amongst restaurants that refuse to shut down, even if they get fined even if they lose their liquor licenses. But the reality is she's dealing from a full deck and he's basically got a bluff on a lot of his powers. The the leverage they've got is pretty minimal. They can't sit on the money, and refuse to allocate the federal money to be used for COVID relief that's just self defeating in the long run pillar. So why won't the legislature approve this money? They said, well, it's the governor's fault, because she won't compromise with us. They don't care about fault. They want results.


Christine Barry  06:16

Yeah, and let's, let's just be clear on this, they keep saying she she's not treating us like the equal branch that we are, as I mentioned earlier, they are still an equal branch of government, the courts are still an equal branch of government, where they're not equal is that space where you manage public health, the legislature doesn't have a right to manage a pandemic, or manage the state's pandemic response. They just don't they have a right to do certain things. The court said that we can't be in a state of an emergency without the legislature's approval every 28 days, okay, fine. We will manage this pandemic in a way that that doesn't hold us up. Because if she went back to them to stay in the state of emergency that would have never been renewed. And I want to point out that click on Detroit had an article mentioning that researchers at the University of Michigan said that the pause to save lives mandate in mid November, likely save 1000s of lives during the holiday season. This is the stuff that's going on. While Jason Wentworth who there's a really good write up about him in Michigan advanced, but I don't really care what his background is. It's not in public health. You know, while he's over there being a baby about all of this stuff. People are talking about how Gretchen Whitmer and it's clearly it's not just her, it's Joan a khaldoun. And all these other leaders in public health are working together to stop this. And the republicans in the legislature have never come up with a plan. All they've done is say, No, we don't want you to do that. We're going to give control to the local health departments. And then when they have trouble, they can call us, that kind of thing. It is cowardice. And it's just based on reaction. They're just reacting to these really shouty people in their districts.


Walt Sorg  08:07

Well, the latest battle within the battle is over high school athletics, which I think is absolutely ridiculous. Athletics are an important part of high school, no question about it. But they're not the primary function of high school First of all, and I think they certainly take second place when it comes to health. great article in Michigan. advance on the person who's leading this let the kids play movement. Turns out she's one of those right wing QAnon wackadoodles Jane McElvin Mcelven a I guess is how it's pronounced. She is the organizer of let them play Incorporated, which is advocating for an end to COVID-19 restrictions halting high school sports. She is among other things a believer in COVID being a hoax. she testified maskless in front of the House Oversight Committee sharing concerns about the mental health of student athletes, criticizing Of course, the Whitmer administration's restrictions, she's pushed COVID skepticism according to the Michigan Advance article debunked election fraud conspiracies, and she repeats QAnon rhetoric. She also said she was going from Monroe to Washington DC to be a part of that pro Trump rally at the Capitol, which turned into an insurrection riot. So that you know, that's where she's coming from. She's a part of that group of people. That's kind of like what Gretchen Whitmer does whatever Gretchen Whitmer does. The other thing that really stands out about this is you know, they say, Well, this is no problem we can have contacts for indoor context sports in the middle of the winter, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan which have much greater control over their athletes are having all sorts of problems. Even keeping games on the schedule. Michigan State just had to move to games because of a slight pandemic within the basketball program. University of Michigan shut down all athletics for a couple of weeks because of problems with infections amongst their athletes. So I don't know how they think the high schools are going to or any safer than the colleges when the colleges have much greater resources to protect their athletes and also much greater control over those athletes.


Christine Barry  10:04

Well in the actual fight against the virus, the challenge remains getting people vaccinated. In a forum sponsored by MSU's Institute for Public Policy and Social research. Ruthanne Sudderth of the Michigan Hospital Association said the problem is pretty simple right now. It's all about supply.


Ruthanne Sudderth  10:21

We simply don't have enough vaccine in Michigan to get to everybody yet and the demand is outpacing the supply. We have some small hospitals that have not gotten any vaccine supply since January 4. And that is due to the kind of the siphoning off of a certain supply of vaccine to the long term care program, which is critical. We need everyone in those long term care facilities, staff and residents to be vaccinated.


Walt Sorg  10:47

The entire discussion was well worth listening to. It's about a one hour discussion, we'll post a link to it on our website. also taking part of the discussion was Ingham County's health director, Linda Valle. She said there's a second problem with the supply chain. And that's predictability.


Linda Vail  11:02

We find out on Friday, how much vaccine we get that will be arriving next week. So the logistical challenges of always needing to be guessing where you are with vaccine, in terms of scheduling appointments, and those sorts of things have been very challenging. as Ruthanne mentioned, the supply has been fairly low 60,000 Monderna doses a week across the state. That doesn't go very far when you you know, distribute it to all counties.


Walt Sorg  11:30

Fortunately, though, there is some help on the way from the federal government. Joe Biden is now in charge of the federal program. And that's making a big difference. And they are responding to these concerns,


Joe Biden  11:42

we will increase overall weekly vaccination distributions of states tribes and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses starting next week, that's an increase of 1.4 million doses per week. The second thing, we're increasing the transparency with states cities and tribes and local partners when it comes to the vaccine supply. This is something we've heard over and over again, from both Democrats and Republicans, state and local leaders, that they need a plan in order to what they know what they have to plan on, they need to know what the order is going to be. From this week forward, God willing will ensure that states tribes and territories will now always have a reliable three week forecast what the supply they're going to get. So they'll know three weeks at a time what's going to be there in the third week. This is going to help make sure governors, mayors and local leaders have greater certainty around supply, so they can carry out their plans to vaccinate as many people as possible.


Walt Sorg  12:44

That should help a lot. But meanwhile, there's a new bulletin just went out to students at Michigan State University, telling students to primarily stay in their residence halls when at all possible, because the infection rates are going back up on campus as students returned for in person classes really, for the first time since this all started


Christine Barry  13:03

well, and we have this new variant b.1.1.7. It binds more easily to the human cells. So it spreads about 50% faster than other strains doesn't seem to change the outcome or the severity of an infection. But it spreads faster. We have cases in Washtenaw cases in Wayne County. I mean, we've seen it many times in Michigan already. So as students come back, they're going to have to deal with that as well.


Walt Sorg  13:29

I think part of the problem is that a lot of people still don't take this thing seriously. They don't believe that this is the crisis that it is. Yet more people have died in the last nine months from COVID-19 than died during in terms of Americans than died during all of World War Two, which is a staggering number. And all I can think is if the nation had had the same lack of uniform resolve during World War Two, we'd all be speaking German right now.


Christine Barry  13:55

You know, we had the wrong leader in place when this happened. And we had dismantled all of the proactive measures that we could have taken


Walt Sorg  14:03

and actively promoted the wrong measures saying Don't worry about mask, it's not dangerous. You don't have to worry about this minimizing the problem, minimizing the response and then politicizing the response. And it was just wasn't not just bad leadership. It was dangerous leadership.


Christine Barry  14:19

Yeah. And it doesn't all fall on Trump. I mean, we have problems look at how badly Detroit was hit by this. But they were also dealing with other things that should have never happened all of those water shutoffs and things so he was just it. I think that there were things at the federal level that could have certainly mitigated it much, much more. This could have been more of a success story. But now we have President Biden in place and everything's gonna go so much better, but it's a big cleanup.


Walt Sorg  14:50

When we went when we went to war, World War Two, we were all at war and we understood it right away. This one started the the infection started in a couple of cities. It was really big. In New York, it was very bad in Detroit, New Orleans, and the Bay Area, San Francisco area. But for most of the nation, it was just a news story about another part of the country, parts of the country that were heavily minority populated parts of the country that were basically as Trump likes to describe them blue state areas. And so was just seen as a local problem for a few areas that they really didn't care about. And it was not seen as a national crisis. And now it's everywhere. The worst state in terms of per capita infections and deaths is South Dakota, for crying out loud. And it is bad in mostly red states now because they were the slowest to realize that we had in fact a national crisis on our hands. Okay, let's move on. The Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy announced that it is approved Enbridge energy's application for certain permits required to build a utility tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, if constructed, and it's still big if the tunnel would as a proposed replacement for the 68 year old line five dual petroleum products pipelines currently lying on the lake bed. Eagles review of the permit applications concluded that the proposed construction of a tunnel beneath the lake bed can be done in compliance with the state environmental laws. That Eagle administers the reaction for Michigan's environmental community and it's, let's say not good. We're joined by Charlotte Jamison. She's the program director for the Michigan Environmental Council. Charlotte, we have to begin in environmental news with the the latest and that is the state's approval of the new Enbridge pipeline into the Straits of Mackinac, in announcing the decision Eagle the environmental Great Lakes and Energy Department permit review, people said the proposed tunneling project would have minimal impact on water quality in the Great Lakes and would not affect protected uses of Michigan's water resources. I suspect you take issue with that.


Charlotte Jameson  16:53

Yes, we strongly disagree. We believe that we'll have to build a massive tunnel under the Great Lakes, we'll have a lot of impacts on our lake bed and our Great Lakes system. Unfortunately, you know, EGLE read the law and they are bound by law. And they feel that that given our existing statute that they didn't have any other recourse but to issue the permits. There are other processes under that are happening right now that Ambridge has to navigate before they get final approval to on the tunnel. There is a case pending at the Public Service Commission around primarily whether or not there's a public need for the tunnel. And Michigan Environmental Council tip of the MITT Watershed Council, National Wildlife and the Grand Traverse band are all intervening in that case and working to push back on the idea that that we need this tunnel built and we need that oil flowing for the next 99 years, which we obviously disagree with.


Walt Sorg  18:04

What about the Upper Peninsula energy supply? The the major drive in favor of the tunnel has been that if you get rid of the tunnel, you don't have a replacement for it. You've basically stranded the up.


Charlotte Jameson  18:15

Yeah, interestingly enough, there's so the governor put together a up energy taskforce to study this issue. And they came out with round one of their report, which looked at alternative ways to bring in propane. And there are a number of alternative ways the top one being bringing it in by rail, which would involve some investment in rail line into the up but it's not an you know, astronomical amount. And so we're hopeful that the administration moves forward with proposing some of that funding in their next budget. The other kind of longer term piece is looking at how we transition off of propane and other forms of fossil fuel for heating, which we need to do for climate change. And we expect the next round of the up energy taskforce report to look at that question and to post some solutions that we could go after in the long term.


Walt Sorg  19:15

Okay, let's shift to some news that I'm sure made you a lot happier. And that was the rollout of President Biden's Climate Change program very comprehensive, easily the most comprehensive climate change program in the history of climate change. How do you see this rolling out? Obviously, the oil industry, the fossil fuel industry, Republicans already lining up against it? How much of this can happen?


Charlotte Jameson  19:37

I think all of the things that he outlined on the 27th are all things that are within his executive authority to do there are changes to federal permitting rules around oil and gas leasing on on state land, there are changes to kind of internal executive branch bureaucracy around Setting up new taskforce and committees. So these are all things that we think they should be able to move forward with. And I don't see a real solid legal path to challenging them. I do want to say, though, I think I think for a lot of climate advocates, our heads are spinning a little bit and that we've gone from essentially four years of climate denialism to Yeah, what is one of the most comprehensive announcements from any US president on climate change? And so, you know, I think a lot of folks are still are hugely thankful, but are still sort of grappling with what this means in terms of the debate around climate in the nation going forward.


Walt Sorg  20:45

There were a lot of skeptics in the environmental movement about the Biden and climate change plan during the primary process, especially when was compared with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and also Governor Inslee. Yeah, when he was running for president, has he won those folks back now?


Charlotte Jameson  21:02

I think he has, or at least he's starting the process to, I was pleasantly surprised by Biden's plan that he came out with on the campaign trail. And I think, in particular, his push for 100%, carbon free electricity, or the electric power sector by 2035, is really groundbreaking, and is one of the strongest kind of calls for for that shift in our power sector that we have seen from a national figure. And so I think that helped, I think, the heavy focus on jobs, and really pounding home that climate change action means jobs, I think, helps a lot too, with winning over skeptics. And then some of the things he did on the 27th really put environmental justice, front and center, and highlighted that that's going to continue to be a real commitment from the Biden ministration, which I think will help again, really underscore for some skeptics. More on the more progressive side of things that these, these are important issues to him and his administration.


Walt Sorg  22:09

for Michigan, the jobs issue can be pretty powerful. The federal government has a fleet of 645,000 vehicles, most of which can be converted to all electric over time, a huge economic boost for Michigan, although 645,000 vehicles isn't that much in terms of the total production. It's certainly for the electric car industry. It's a it's a major thing, especially when he says they've got to be American made, have American components and be built by union labor. Do you think that's going to help sell it in the industrial Midwest?


Charlotte Jameson  22:40

I think so. And in fact, we just saw GM come out and announce that they are going all carbon free all emissions free by 2035 with their line and that they're phasing out Ace engines. So yeah, I think I think that is going to have a big boost in terms of the auto sector really seeing this as the future and folks like Michigan, putting our heads together to think about how we take advantage of this transition for jobs here.


Walt Sorg  23:08

And of course, in the Department of Energy we'll be hearing shortly from her confirmation hearing with Jennifer Granholm is certainly focused on the job creation aspect of going to clean energy as as john kerry, the Special Envoy on climate change, it seems like you've got the perfect storm for change after fighting against the ultimate bad storm before.


Charlotte Jameson  23:28

Yeah, exactly. And the good thing about Jennifer Granholm is she has as Energy Secretary, billions at her disposal to release for both research and new technology, which I think is going to continue to be important, but also to invest in in companies and invest in workers and and really kind of incentivize this transition. And she and her confirmation hearing underscored that Jobs was key for her. And so I think I think we will see a lot of resources coming out of the department in the near term. And that really helped to bring those changes about.


Walt Sorg  24:09

The other thing in the Biden program that I found fascinating, and I think really critical, is it isn't just the Department of Energy, or the Department of the Interior. It's everybody. every department in the cabinet, every agency in the federal government has to consider climate when it's making decisions. 180 really from the Trump administration with subject, consider climate and then do whatever, you can destroy it.


Charlotte Jameson  24:31

Yeah. And that's a huge it's a huge deal. Because frankly, there's so much that happens in these planning processes and permits and just general sort of day to day operations out of ministry at the different departments that you know, we don't think about but if all of a sudden they take into account, oh, what are the carbon emissions that could come from us or what are the the climate impacts that could come from this? We start to see that that shift not only in mentality at departments, but also in behavior. You're in a lot of these routine processes. That's one thing that we would love to see the state of Michigan really embraced too. I think there's a lot of opportunity under our Michigan Environmental Protection Act, to take climate change into account in agency decision making. And that's one area where we could do a lot more work and in fact, would have a huge impact going forward.


Walt Sorg  25:26

So what is the environmental lobby in Michigan going to be doing to advance this program?


Charlotte Jameson  25:30

We're going to be watching closely to see what resources come from the federal government in terms of decarbonisation work. And that's going to be one key piece of the puzzle. The other piece of the puzzle is governor Whitmer just put together is about to put together her I met solutions Council, that's gonna be the ones tasked to figure out how we get our state to carbon neutrality by 2050. And so the environmental lobby is going to be heavily involved in the council's deliberations and in helping the state to come up with a really strong plan.


Walt Sorg  26:08

How do you read Michigan's congressional delegation at this point?


Charlotte Jameson  26:11

You know, it's a mixed bag, I think we have some really great leaders, like Andy Levin, who's pushing really hard on electric vehicles, in particular, as a big climate pro climate person, Brenda Lawrence, on the ej side of things, and in particular, on climate, I think is really big. You know, Senator Peters won his first election on a climate campaign platform. And so I know he's interested in this as well. Debbie Dingell is in leadership, and she also is pro taking action on climate. So I think our dem side of the aisle is pretty decent. The Republican side maybe needs a little work, we do have some moderates in the form of Fred Upton, who I would hope could be persuaded to support so many things, especially stuff that will help create jobs in Michigan.



Peter Meijer is an interesting new figure on the scene. A little bit more to the right, but willing to seemingly buck his party on some things.


Walt Sorg  27:10

His family certainly has made some moves environmentally through the stores.


Charlotte Jameson  27:15

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. They're very clean and carbon reduction just from a corporate perspective. So I think there are some openings with our congressional delegation to really lead on on climate,


Walt Sorg  27:28

Charlotte Jameson from the Michigan Environmental Council. Thanks so much for joining us on the Policast be safe.


Charlotte Jameson  27:35

Thank you.


Walt Sorg  27:40

As you're in our conversation with Sharla, we talked about the Biden clean energy program and his attacks on climate change. Clearly the most comprehensive attack on climate change since al gore made it an issue 2025 years ago. And it's going to be a real uphill climb because you've got the oil and gas lobby just going berserk over the thing. You've got Republicans who depend on those industries increasingly for financial support fighting it as well. We had Jennifer Granholm speaking to a senate Energy Committee for confirmation, a committee that is loaded up with senators representing fossil fuel states. How do you think she did? Christine?


Christine Barry  28:19

I thought she did. Well, I think she could have done better, but she has to restrict her answers to the time available and not, you know, stray too much. The thing about Jennifer Granholm is that she's really pragmatic, I think and then we saw in her eight years as governor, she did a really good job bringing together the public sector, the private sector and the nonprofit sector. And when she talks about how to handle energy and climate change, she does it in a pragmatic way. I wish there was a better way to say to show or to guarantee that these people who are currently employed by, you know, in coal and oil industries and so on, there was a way to say, Look, you're not going to lose a job. We're going to invest in you as well. And I think I think there are plans for that. But you know, you can't guarantee everybody will transition into a better job, but she understands transition. And she understands working together. And I think she did well. There were a few disingenuous things was it senator, the Senator from Wyoming, is that Barrasso?


Walt Sorg  29:22

john Barrasso? Yeah, biggest state in the nation.


Christine Barry  29:26

And and he he showed either, I mean, I think he was just taking shots but just showed that he didn't understand the battery and car relationship that was going on in Michigan when Governor Granholm was in office. And she had incentives out for these new technologies. Because he went after her about how basically she used our tax incentives to fund China technology. It was a lack of understanding about how the incentives work, there was a lack of understanding about what What happened with A123, It's a lack of understanding about batteries and the demand for those batteries as well as adjacent technologies. And as long as you have an expert in this kind of technology, which I believe Jennifer Granholm to be an expert in the policy around it, not necessarily each technology, but then you have a senator who just has a constituency and is not as well versed. And I think you have about 50 of those in the senate right now, you're going to have problems with this. I don't think it has to be a fight. I think that she brings to the table everything that you need to, to compromise on this and make it as painless as possible to make this big transition. So did she do? Well? I thought she did well, but that doesn't mean that, you know, everybody else thought that I mean, I'm kind of biased anyway.


Walt Sorg  30:50

Yeah, well, let's listen to a little bit of her testimony. First, she did focus a lot of her opening statement on the job creating potential of the conversion to solar and wind energy.


Jennifer Granholm  31:00

This is a sector that every single state can benefit from the products that reduce carbon emissions are going to create a $23 trillion dollar global market by 2030. That is a massive opportunity. So we can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America, we can stall wind turbines, install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America, we can allow other countries to corner the market on carbon reduction technologies like carbon capture, utilization and storage. Or we can put our workers in good paying jobs manufacturing and installing those solutions in America. And we can export them


Walt Sorg  31:46

all as well. And she also talked about the opportunities that really started to Michigan 20 years ago, when she was the governor over diversifying your economy to take advantage of the transition from a fossil fuel powered economy to one that was powered more and more by renewable energy.


Jennifer Granholm  32:04

And because we had such an auto dependent state, I knew we had to diversify, both inside the auto industry and outside the auto industry. When I say inside, I mean, we built car 1.0 we had to build car 2.0, the electric vehicle including the guts to that vehicle, which is the battery and diversifying outside the auto industry, we had to create new jobs in new sectors, and the most promising of those sectors was in clean energy. And so we went to work. And today, one third of all North American battery production is in Michigan.


Walt Sorg  32:38

And that could happen nationally as well. She also walks the walk, she's not only drives a volt, it's the second one she's owned, she bought one of the original volts back in 2011. And when that thing got ready for training, she traded in for another volt.


Christine Barry  32:53

Yeah, she's pretty genuine on this issue. Well, let's move on. Let's take a look at some political notes. State Senate Majority Leader Well, you know, this is my favorite guy, Mike shirkey, continues to insert foot into mouth. He sees the state of the state and says, well, the governor look delightful that having a mask off was the most important aspect of the speech was that she, she delivered it without a mask. This guy's just an idiot doesn't take his job seriously.


Walt Sorg  33:23

No, but she wasn't wearing a mask because she was delivering the speech in a room that was empty. It was basically her and a camera that were sitting in the room, there was no audience. And the last time I checked the CDC guidelines, you didn't need to wear a mask if you're all by yourself in a room. Also, he's the story that he's had boiling all around him about being an advisor to the far right wing militias, or as I like to call them the professional insurrection is he keeps changing his story. What's his latest version?


Christine Barry  33:52

Right? His latest version is that he wanted to talk to them because he believes in the right to assemble. He believes in the right to protest, but he wanted to know, do they have codes of conduct so that they can hold themselves accountable so the public can hold them accountable? And that's what the entire meeting was about? Do you have a code of conduct? And you know what? Well, that's ridiculous. Al Qaeda has a code of conduct. drug cartels have codes of conduct. I don't care about these people's code of conduct. The you. I mean, you have a code of conduct. How does that help me if you bring a rifle to the Capitol? Nobody knows what your nobody cares. You know what? Mike shirkey just talks out his ass. For now. He just needs to shut up and do the job properly and he's not going to do it. He likes playing politics, and he likes lying and he's getting caught in it.


Walt Sorg  34:48

another political note with national republicans they seem firmly in the grip of twice impeach Donald Trump to the point of no longer being a party of principle but a cult of personality. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy headed to Mar a Lago do kiss Trump's ring, among other things. In a moment of rare candor admitted the Trump was responsible for the assault on the Capitol, and then immediately began to skin that back. And Trump has declared jihad against the 10. Republicans in the House, his supporters impeachment. That includes Grand Rapids representative Peter Meijer, who already has an opponent for the 2022 primary. His name is Tom Norton, who immediately went on Steve Bannon podcast to raise money for his campaign. Norton says Meijer's vote was a betrayal of trust. Meijer had a different take.


Peter Meijer  35:39

I think the betrayal of trust was what happened leading up to January 6, with the President's oath of office. It's just staggering how many folks continue to either try to paper over what happened, try to move on, just say, you know, it's been a couple of weeks, let's


Walt Sorg  35:53

forget about it. I'm just at a loss for words, Myers and backing down at all, from his criticism of Republicans who continue to claim that the election was fixed, or at least suspect. In an interview on CNN, he basically calls bullshit on calls for investigating the non existent election fraud, saying it like this,


Peter Meijer  36:14

there are people making the argument, well, we have to vote to overturn this election, because our supporters don't believe that it was legitimate. Well, they don't believe it was legitimate because you were lying to them, because you're playing to those fears. But we can't be a party of conspiracy theories, we can't be a party of winking and nodding at some of the worst impulses that we've seen in the darkest corners of the internet. That's not how you're going to have a party that's trusted to govern. That's not how we're going to win over moderate and independent voters and say, trust us to make decisions about the future of this country.


Walt Sorg  36:44

I find it fascinating that the republicans are going after people like Meijer and Liz Cheney, and just fighting within themselves, because how dare they insult the great leader. This really is a cult of personality now, and I think it's every cult of personality in the history of the world is ultimately failed.


Christine Barry  37:02

It's crazy. Could you imagine, even, you know, four years ago when Trump took office that anybody would go after someone named Meijer in Michigan, or someone named Cheney really anywhere.


Walt Sorg  37:14

But especially in Wyoming


Christine Barry  37:16

You just couldn't imagine that. And now, it's crazy. And look, I don't like Meijer as a corporation. I don't like their politics. And I'm not glad that Peter Meier won that election, but I've given him as props for standing up for this.


Walt Sorg  37:30

Right now. Integrity is more important than almost than policy.


Christine Barry  37:34

Yeah, it's, it's crazy. And I'm sure in the future when all of this Trump stuff is in the past. And I don't know how long that will take. People are gonna look at Peter Meijer and go god, he's just the worst republican ever, because he'll be back pushing conservative policies and we don't like that. But right now, I'm glad he's there. And I'm glad he's standing up. And I mean, he was under attack his first week.


Walt Sorg  37:55

It was It reminds me of how you and I felt about Justin Amash. It was the same thing Justin Amash. I don't agree with him on just about anything when it comes to policy. But the man has integrity, and his integrity basically ended his political career. And I can respect that.


Christine Barry  38:12

Yeah, I respect that. You know what I remember thinking Jennifer Granholm would be much more effective if she wasn't so nice. We used to have meetings about Jennifer being way too nice. And at the end of the meeting, or you know, I mean, they weren't fit, you know, the end of the conversation, you're like, isn't it terrible, that our state of politics is that somebody weaknesses, that they're kind? And in this case, isn't it terrible, that's somebody's political weakness is that they have integrity. That's, that's not a good state of politics. It's not a way to get good policy from your government.


Walt Sorg  38:46

It makes you think back to the times when I was working across the aisle from Governor Bill Milliken. There was a man who was kind, he was gentle. But he was firm and he had tons of integrity. And he was possibly the greatest governor in the history of the state.


Christine Barry  39:01

Oh, well, another target from the Trump kins is mid Michigan representative Elissa Slotkin, one of the people who ran against her is Mike Detmer works at an auto dealership. And anyway, he is the guy who had that famous or rather notorious photo with the proud boys at that first rally I was calling you know, these COVID Trump rallies that they have in Lansing. And he took the photo with the pro boy flash in the pro boy sign and then after that has kind of done a Mike shirkey on that issue where he said well, then nothing really happened. I didn't really know that. However, I know sign language and that proud boy sign also means the letter F. And then he goes on to say the proud boys say they're not that bad. And then if you want to know what the proud boys do, you have to ask them. I mean, he's just kind of slimy on the whole thing. He didn't win as primary but These are the kinds of people who are going to go after him and whoever goes after or go after her. And whoever goes after Elissa Slotkin is going to be well funded by the House Republicans because they want that seat back for Republicans.


Walt Sorg  40:12

Also in the political news this week, you know, this normally would be the biggest story of the week in a normal world, but it hasn't been a normal world for so long. One of the people who was arrested for plotting to kidnap governor Gretchen Whitmer, has pled guilty and agreed to basically fully cooperate with the FBI in exchange for leniency, including testifying against his cohorts, if called upon. His name is Ty Garvin. He's an airline mechanic. he pled guilty to kidnap conspiracy in US District Court in Grand Rapids during the week, admitting he was part of a group that sought to kidnap her from her vacation home. And it was more than just a bystander, and the whole thing that it was, in fact, an act of plot. This guy flipping, which is not unusual in cases like this, but having somebody flipped makes their case all the more stronger. And hopefully these people are going to be put away for a long, long, long time. I don't care if it's Gretchen Whitmer, or it's Ted Cruz. If you threaten somebody's life, in the name of politics, you need to go to prison and you need to go to prison for a long time. And as much as I despise Ted Cruz, I will argue with him forever on policy, but I would never in a moment given to the idea that he needs to be threatened physically, or should be in physical danger because of his ridiculous political views. We've got that Marjorie Taylor green nutjob down in Georgia, the Congresswoman who, among other things, gave a thumbs up to the idea of shooting Nancy Pelosi and executing her and does a lot of other crazy things, too. And I suppose I'm kind of in the minority on her I don't think the house should expeller I think they should sanction her take away or committee assignments. But in terms of throwing her out of the house, my feeling is she was elected by the people of her district. And if they want that kind of nutjob representing them, I think that should be there. Right?


Christine Barry  42:00

Yeah, I mean, the people of her district should should handle her, I've always been an opponent of kicking somebody out of office for something that's sort of adjacent to how they got there. So a lot of times, you'll see the local level recall petition or recall election trying to get people out of office because they didn't like how they voted or something. I'm not really into that I don't, I don't like recalls as a political tool. And this kind of strikes me that same way. I wouldn't want to kick somebody out where they were actually duly elected because of what they did before or their politics or whatever. I think that that's for their district to handle. But I don't think she should be given any committee assignments, because her philosophy is just so wrong about how you should handle politics.


Walt Sorg  42:48

It's totally antithetical to the idea of democratic rule with a small d, she also maybe her office could be moved someplace where she she is not a threatened her staff is not a threat to the rest of Congress, they've already had to move the freshman representative Cory Bush's office away from Greene's office because of potential conflicts between the two of them that could have erupted into a physical confrontation, especially given the fact that the dear representative green is packing most of the time, if not all the time and wants to come on to the House floor carrying a weapon as well. If I were Nancy Pelosi, and somebody had previously endorsed the idea of assassinating me, I'm not sure I'd want them sitting down the aisle from me carrying a 45.


Christine Barry  43:30

Well, they're not supposed to be on the House floor with their firearms. I don't think, you know, I don't want to kick people out of Congress just for disagreement or the things that they've said, expressing their political beliefs. But, you know, there is a real threat. And I mean, there is some palpable tension in that building. And I don't know how you govern when there is a group of people who feel that another group of people wanted to have them murdered, and actually cooperated in that action,


Walt Sorg  44:01

one profession where it is appropriate to throw people out for bad behavior, his lawyers, and it could really be a problem for a lot of lawyers who wasted a lot of taxpayer money, filing frivolous lawsuits. It used to be republicans complained about frivolous lawsuits. But lately that's been kind of the thing for the Trump lawyers.


Christine Barry  44:23

Attorney General Dana Nestle is doing her best to make some lawyers pay the price for wasting the time of our courts, as well as a lot of taxpayer money with baseless lawsuits regarding Michigan's election practices. So as you may have seen, she filed for sanctions against the attorneys involved in frivolous election lawsuits. And look, they're filing with no good evidence to back anything up. But every time they file, it requires a response. It requires time of the courts. attorneys have a professional license, and they need to conduct themselves accordingly. So she's trying to It make it clear that this is not welcome.


Walt Sorg  45:03

Yeah, Giuliani at all didn't just file lawsuits that they lost. In a lot of cases, they were totally berated by the judges for filing lawsuits that had absolutely no merit. The judges basically saying, why are you wasting my time with this lawsuit so they very well could lose their license to practice law in Michigan. Giuliani is also having his law license challenged in New York, he really should be kept out of there. He's bad for the profession. lawyers have a bad enough image anyway. They certainly don't need to have people like Rudy Giuliani representative of their profession. And I think it's hilarious. Now Donald Trump's entire legal team has either been fired or resigned. And at this point, he doesn't have any lawyers to help him with his impeachment trial, which is coming up in just a few days in the United States Senate. Maybe he'll represent himself,


Christine Barry  45:49

he might have to represent himself, as you said, fired or resigned, but also possibly witnesses, they might be called as witnesses in this trial. So they can't represent him that way, either. But one thing real quick, you know, the thing about having all of this paperwork, all of these frivolous lawsuits, all of these stupid affidavits, that don't mean anything, these things create artifacts that can then be used as political tools later. It's just like a police report. You can say anything you want. If you're not caught lying, it doesn't matter. And you know, Giuliani, what's, what's the price gonna be? He's gonna lose his law license. So what he doesn't practice law in Michigan,


Walt Sorg  46:26

he may lose $3 billion to his or a billion dollars in his lawsuit with dominion. So


Christine Barry  46:31

Well, that's a Yeah, but that's, I mean, he could have had his lawsuits without smearing dominion, just by saying something different. But it creates these artifacts that people go back and use later and say, Look at all the lawsuits, look at all the affidavits, obviously, something was was not right there. And none of that is true. It's all part of the big lie.


Walt Sorg  46:51

A big assignment for Michigan senator Gary Peters. Peters has been named to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2022. As democrats seek to protect their 5050 majority in the chamber, the majority coming, of course, thanks to the vote of the vice president. And the 2022 senate map is a very interesting opportunity for both parties. Democrats have to defend newly elected senators in Georgia and Arizona, as well as first term incumbents in Nevada and New Hampshire. But they can also go on the offensive in places like Wisconsin, where you've got Ron Johnson, who some have called the stupidest member of the United States Senate, Pennsylvania, where you've got an open seat North Carolina, where you've got an open seat as well. Normally, the first midterm election for a newly elected president is bad news for that president's party. I think this election has the potential to be different because of timing of things, people tend to react to what's happened in their lives in the last six months to a year. And I think by the time the 2020 election rolls around, we're going to be out of this COVID mess, hopefully, unless the mutations go far beyond where they are now. But most of us will be vaccinated by then, as a result, the economy is going to be on the rebound. And there's a lot of pent up demand in the economy. And the bounce back, according to the economist is going to be very strong with the GDP going up by four or 5%, as a result of the bounce back in employment will be going up. And generally the company, the country is going to be in a pretty good mood after going through a couple of years of hell. And that should work to the advantage of the party that's in power. But maybe I'm just a Pollyanna.


Christine Barry  48:31

I'm actually quite hopeful. If the democrats go all in and they're and they're not weak on it. But if Joe Biden continues to project an appearance of strength and confidence, and he continues to act in the manner which he has, I think we have a real chance and look, the Democratic senators represent 41 million more Americans than the republicans and we need to legislate like that. It's time for us to stand up for the people that we represent. And yes, I understand that states are equal in the Senate. Everybody gets two senators, period. But yes, you can use the fact that you represent more people to bring your bold ideas in for a legislative agenda and do your best to push them through


Walt Sorg  49:13

the combined population of the two Dakotas is roughly equal to a medium sized city in California. It the two Dakotas have four senators and all of California has to that is a distortion of anything pretending to be a democratic republic. That's not democracy, no matter how you define it. It is a minority rule.


Christine Barry  49:33

Yeah, I mean, I agree we are the minority has too much influence in the electoral college. And in Congress. It's ridiculous. Let us move on to guns in the battle to ban guns in Michigan's Capitol Building continues. Last week, representatives Julie Brixie and Tyrone Carter introduced bills that would ban open and concealed firearms from the Capitol. Now this is different, because right now only open carry is banned, concealed carry is still allowed. That's silly. But the Capitol Commission has said that we would need to install expensive metal detectors in order to actually enforce this. And that's just kind of a silly objection.


Walt Sorg  50:21

There's a Related development in this some polling that was released by every town for gun safety and Giffords, which had a post election poll showing 90% of tickets splitters, and the vast majority of all Americans support urgent action on gun safety, most notably, almost unanimous agreement that there needs to be universal background checks, something that the Congress just can't seem to handle, even though the whole country seems to want it. Except for of course, for the NRA, which is probably busier right now running for its life trying to get out of New York and move down to Texas. But maybe the time is finally finally finally right. But you never know what the senate it's one of those things at least, it's not something that's going to sit on mitch mcconnell's desk anymore. There probably will be a vote on this in the senate at some point after we get past the COVID legislation and a few other things.


Christine Barry  51:12

Just real quick, one more point on the guns, you brought up background checks and 90% supporting background checks. Even members of Michigan open carry support background checks, not it's I mean, I don't know that it's the organization's position. But if people from all across the political spectrum support background checks, and yet, we can't seem to get this really low hanging fruit plucked from the tree, so it tells you how strong the whisper of the NRA is.


Walt Sorg  51:43

Well, before we wrap up this week, I'd like to end with a tribute to the return of professionalism to the White House. The last two weeks have provided us with a huge contrast between a White House run by the president's son in law to a white house with a new bunch of leaders who actually know what they're doing. When the now ex president had something he wanted. he denounced it on Twitter, and then wait for some things to happen. If it involves legislation, you might send treasury secretary Steve minuchin, or whomever was chief of staff at the time to the Capitol to work things out with Mitch McConnell and maybe Nancy Pelosi. Contrast that to how joe biden's White House deals with Congress and the public. They actually understand how the process works. As press secretary Jen Psaki demonstrated with a rundown on just one day's work on Biden's highest priority, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package how the white house now approaches the whole idea of dealing with the Congress and dealing with policy


Jen Psaki  52:39

Chief of Staff Ron Klain engages members directly throughout the day as did Senior Advisor needed done which they will both continue to do moving forward. counselor to the president Steve machete and Office of Legislative Affairs Director Louisa Terrell are quarterbacking the team's broader legislative outreach, and I've had dozens of conversations with individual members to understand their priorities and received their feedback. In addition to ongoing conversations with leadership on both sides of the aisle.


Jen Psaki  53:06

Already this week. Members of the National Economic Council and Domestic Policy Council and staff from Treasury have met with the relevant committees including Senate Banking Committee, Senate Finance Committee House Ways and Means House Financial Services, house education and labor and the bicameral small business committee. And EC director Brian DESE. is doing one on one briefings with members of Congress and meetings with caucuses, including yesterday's meeting, which I believe has been reported with the problem solvers caucus to discuss the proposal, Hill engagement. I will continue with Jeff science and Brian DS meeting with the new dem coalition, along with several other briefings that are scheduled.


Jen Psaki  53:45

Also our outreach isn't limited to Congress, which is vitally important. This isn't just about speaking to elected officials. This is also about speaking to the country and building support and educating and engaging with leaders across the country. So yesterday, Jeff sciences team spoke with bipartisan governors, as you all know, they talked about the COVID package by the National Governors Association organized by them, and administration officials briefed tribal leaders and a number of mayors yesterday as well. And the Office of Public Engagement led by Cedric Richmond brief civil rights groups yesterday, including the NAACP, the National Action Network, Justice Action Network, Urban League coalition of black civic participation, and black women's Roundtable. Today, they have meetings with labor leaders, advocates for young people, as well as organizations dedicated to building wealth in the black community on Friday, Opie will also the Office of Public Engagement I should say, I hate acronyms will convene 100 presidents of historically black colleges and universities also to discuss this proposal.


Walt Sorg  54:44

That's how you get things done pure and simple. And I think it is so refreshing to actually see pros in charge of the White House and you may not agree with the policy, although I certainly do. But it's nice to just to see the thing work, Christine. It seems like the The tone for an administration really gets set in the first week not just on the professionalism, but also for things as important as getting information out to the public through the White House press room. For Donald Trump. The whole tone was set really on the second day of the administration, with Sean Spicer's memorable and totally disastrous press briefing.


Sean Spicer  55:20

This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period, both in person and around the globe.


Walt Sorg  55:27

Not only was the information of course total baloney, which could be proven by anybody in about 10 seconds, but just the way he said it. It was so confrontational, and amazingly, it was all downhill from there. Spicer actually was the least horrible of the Trump press secretaries. The mutual disrespect and combative has escalated with the increasing lying and hostility of his successors. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and now wants to be governor of Arkansas, Stephanie Grisham, who have never even had a single White House press briefing. And of course, the always charming Kaylee mcenaney plus the creator of alternative facts Kellyanne Conway, along the way. and the President's twitter feed became the leading purveyors of real fake news. The mutual respect is back now as soon as the credibility and the free flow of information from the White House to the American people is back on track. If you go now to, you won't need to fact check every other line in the President's twitter feed or anything. And that's a good thing. Thank you Jen Psaki, and thank you, Joe Biden.


Christine Barry  56:33

And that's it for this week's podcast. If you would like to learn more about today's topics, just head on over to our show page,


Walt Sorg  56:44

We welcome your feedback. You can email us at You can also troll us on our Facebook page or Twitter. That's it. We'll be back here in a week. The Michigan Policast is a production of Michigan Citizens for a Better Tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *