A new group formed by anti-wind and solar activists in Michigan has teamed up with a Republican political consulting firm that also represents an oil and gas pipeline company to fight legislation that would make it easier to site and build renewable energy projects in the state.

Our Home, Our Voice (OHOV) is a 501(c)(4) organization incorporated in the State of Michigan earlier this year. 

“Our Home, Our Voice is a pure grassroots coalition of local officials and private citizens dedicated to protecting Michigan’s long-standing right of local regulation of land use,” Kevon Martis, OHOV’s co-founder and a long-time anti-wind activist, said last month in a presentation to the Michigan House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee. 

“OHOV is funded entirely by rural residents and receives no industry support of any kind,” Martis’s presentation also said. 

A visit to the “About” page for OHOV’s private Facebook group revealed that the group’s admins and moderators include Lucy Cornwell and Emily Van Camp, both of whom are listed as employees of the Marketing Resource Group (MRG), a public relations firm in Lansing that’s represented the Wolverine Pipe Line Company for more than twenty years. 

Wolverine Pipe Line Co. is jointly controlled by the Mobil Pipe Line Company, Sunoco Pipeline L.P., and several smaller companies, according to an annual report filed with federal regulators in April by Mobil Pipe Line, which is a unit of ExxonMobil. Energy Transfer also lists Wolverine Pipe Line Co. as a subsidiary in SEC filings. 

OHOV is opposing legislation – House Bills 5120 and 5121– recently passed by Democrats in the Michigan House that would help streamline development of renewable energy projects by providing the Michigan Public Service Commission with more control over approval of new wind and solar farms. Democrats said the bills were amended prior to the Michigan House vote to allow for more local control over renewable energy projects in order to address local concerns. 

OHOV took credit for writing resolutions adopted by some Michigan townships and counties calling on state lawmakers to maintain local control over wind and solar projects in a September newsletter posted on the group’s website. 

The name “Lucy Cornwell” is listed as the “Author” in the document properties of the draft resolution that’s linked from the “Take Action” page of OHOV’s website. 

In addition, the name “Chelsea Yi” is listed as the “Author” in the document properties of instructions on “How to download & pass the local resolution in your township” linked from OHOV’s Take Action page. A “Chelsea Yi” also works as a senior accounting manager for the MRG. 

MRG supported earlier legislation that would have ceded local control over some pipeline projects to state regulators, legislation that would have benefited the firm’s clients in the oil and gas industry at the time.  

In 2005, Donna Halinski, then an account manager for MRG, wrote an op-ed supporting legislation that provided state regulators with the final say on pipeline projects “placed in limited access highways on state land.” 

Halinski wasn’t shy about the fact that the 2005 legislation would benefit the Wolverine Pipe Line Co. by enabling it to bypass local opposition to one of its projects from the City of Lansing. Her op-ed did not state that Wolverine Pipeline Co. was a client of MRG. Halinski said she was writing on behalf of a coalition of industry groups that supported that legislation, and listed the Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan and Michigan Electric and Gas Association among the bill’s supporters. 

Halinski left MRG in 2020 and started her own consulting firm. 

Our Home, Our Voice co-founder Kevon Martis is listed as a senior policy fellow by a coal industry-backed group in Virginia 

Martis also leads the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, a Michigan-based organization that has fought wind and solar farms in Michigan and other states like neighboring Ohio for over a decade. 

Martis is listed as a senior fellow at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, a Virginia-based group that’s known for its coal industry funding and attacks on scientists who study the impacts of burning fossil fuels on the Earth’s climate

The Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Energy Research, another front group for the fossil fuel industry, has for years promoted Martis’s anti-wind and solar efforts on its blog MasterResource.org

Martis said in his presentation to state lawmakers last month that he receives “no industry funding of any kind.” 

“Media reports of financial ties to various entities are false,” Martis’s presentation also said. 

Joshua Van Camp, who is also involved with the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, is listed with the State of Michigan as OHOV’s incorporator

Our Home, Our Voice hired a Lansing lobbying firm 

OHOV also hired the Lansing-based lobbying firm Capitol Strategies Group, and has spent thousands of dollars on lobbying this year. 

Capitol Strategies Group also lobbies for Calpine Energy Solutions in Michigan, which generates electricity primarily from coal and methane gas. Calpine previously spent $2.7 million to oppose a transmission project in Maine that, if ever completed, would deliver clean hydropower from Canada to New England, where Calpine owns power plants that burn gas and diesel fuel oil. 

Top photo by Alex Gorzen from flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED license. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Posted by Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is the policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute. Dave has been working at the nexus of clean energy and public policy since 2008. Prior to joining the Energy and Policy Institute, he was an outreach coordinator for the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is also an alumnus of the Sierra Club and the Alliance for Climate Protection (now the Climate Reality Project). Dave’s research has helped to spur public scrutiny of political attacks on clean energy and climate science by powerful special interests, such as ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). His work has been cited by major media outlets, such as CBS News and the Wall Street Journal, and he has served as a speaker on panels at national solar industry conferences. Dave holds a MA in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire, where he also received a BA in Humanities.