[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Top Environmental Honors go to ex-legislator Brown, CAFO reformer Henning



For Immediate Release

May 31, 2007



Hugh McDiarmid Jr., Michigan Environmental Council: 517-487-9539


State’s top environmental honor bestowed on ex-legislator, lifelong activist from Kalamazoo


Mary C. Brown earns Milliken Award; CAFO pollution fighter Lynn Henning gets top grassroots award


Tireless, effective advocacy for natural resource protections in Michigan has earned Mary C. Brown the 2007 Helen & William Milliken Distinguished Service Award, the state’s highest environmental honor.


Brown, of Kalamazoo, earned her reputation as a fierce citizen advocate and a crusading state legislator during 16 years in the House of Representatives. She continues to lead the battle for protection of Michigan’s Great Lakes and for clean air and land.


The award will be presented by the Michigan Environmental Council on behalf of its 75 member organizations June 5 during a gathering at the Arcus Depot in Kalamazoo.


Lynn Henning, a farmer near Hudson in rural southern Michigan, will receive the Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership given annually to the state’s top grassroots environmental leader.


Henning has become one of the leading advocates of safeguards for human health and water quality near polluting mega-farms that discharge massive quantities of animal waste.


“These two amazing women are shining examples of how committed, informed citizens can drive positive change in their communities, their state and their nation,” said Lana Pollack, Michigan Environmental Council president.


“Sometimes that change begins on the floor of the state House, as it often did for Mary. Other times it starts at the epicenter of an environmental nightmare like it did with Lynn,” said Pollack. “Both are paths to protecting natural resources along with the health and prosperity we derive from them.”



Brown: Unparalleled knowledge


Brown’s is the political career of a public servant whose depth of knowledge is unparalleled on an array of issues, including social justice, environmental stewardship and gender equity.


“There were times when she’d be questioning expert witnesses at a hearing, and it was clear she knew more about their business than they did,” said Lynn Jondahl, a former legislator and current director of Michigan Prospect. “She had her fingerprints on an awful lot of legislation.”


That legislation included many clean air rules, and many other protections for the health of Michiganders and the preservation of the state’s natural grandeur. As a result, she stamped her mark on dozens of important state laws that still provide a framework for enlightened resource stewardship.


Retirement from the legislature in 1994 changed the venue where she practices her particular brand of activism, but not her tenacious approach.


Her lifelong passion for working with the Girl Scouts continues. She is a state Natural Resources Commission member and sits on the boards of the state YMCA, the Michigan Environmental Council and the American Lung Association of Michigan. She is a founding member of the Kalamazoo Environmental Council and the Coalition for Urban Redevelopment in Kalamazoo.


Henning: Fighting Back


Henning, the winner of the grassroots award, was a content farmer until massive factory farms moved in next door.


Then massive, polluting, mega-farms surrounded her family home near rural Hudson, making the air putrid, turning creeks into open sewers and operating with virtual impunity.


Henning fought back. She taught herself to track and document pollution. She learned law, chemistry, biology and bureaucracy. She took on the corporate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) owners, state regulators and local officials, forcing them to confront the problem.


As vice chair of Environmentally Concerned Citizens for South Central Michigan and a water sentinel with the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter, Henning now monitors CAFOs statewide and trains others from across the Midwest. Her diligence has led to more than 200 Clean Water Act citations against Michigan CAFOs in recent years, and progress toward changing the laws and rules safeguarding public water and air.


Who We Are:


From the urban rivers that pulse through downstate cities to the tip of the rugged Keweenaw Peninsula, the Michigan Environmental Council has been in the forefront of battles to protect the state’s air, water, land and public health for more than a generation.

Created in 1980 by six groups including the Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Environmental Council, MEC is a bipartisan nonprofit that now encompasses 75 member organizations representing more than 200,000 citizen-activists who look to us for agenda-setting leadership from the State Capitol.