Update: Michigan Congressman Vern Ehlers set to retire

Congressman Ehlers and Michgan LCV Deputy Director Kerry Duggan

Congressman Vern Ehlers, who has represented Michigan’s Third District for the last sixteen years, announced yesterday that he will retire at the end of his current term. We at Michigan LCV are particularly sad to see him step down. Michigan is where Congressman Ehlers began his legislative career and built his reputation as an advocate of environmental protection for future generations. For the last sixteen years he has been a great supporter of the Great Lakes and other environmental causes, even when those causes were unpopular within his own party.

“At a time when this state and our country face a deep partisan divide that leaves us all worse off, it is a sad day when we must say goodbye to one of Michigan’s best environmental champions in Congress.” said Michigan LCV Executive Director Lisa Wozniak.

Rep. Ehlers has worked to conserve Michigan’s resources, prevent pollution and invasive species from contaminating the Great Lakes and was a lead Republican cosponsor of the Clean Water Restoration Act. As Michigan's Third District Representative, Rep. Ehlers earned a 70% rating on the LCV Scorecard in 2007 and a 69% in 2008. Only ten Republican Members of Congress in 2007, and only three in 2008, performed better than Congressman Ehlers on the LCV Scorecard. This speaks volumes about the Congressman, and his willingness to be an environmental advocate at a time when energy and the environment are becoming increasingly partisan issues.

Michigan LCV Deputy Director Kerry Duggan fondly recalls working with Congressman Ehlers: "While working for national LCV in Washington, DC, it was my pleasure to meet with Congressman Vern Ehlers in our nation’s Capital. His open-door policy was refreshing, as was his commitment to finding ways to improve the Great Lakes.

“While we may have disagreed on some issues, he was never disagreeable and our conversations never took an angry tone. As a Republican Congressman, he voted to expand the use of wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower. He understood that energy efficiency improvements in buildings are a cheap and long-lasting way to reduce greenhouse gases. He also recognized the potential of renewable energy to create green jobs here in Michigan.”

We at Michigan LCV hope that whoever runs for MI-03 will adopt Congressman Ehlers’ approach to legislation: with an understanding and appreciation of science. To honor his legacy we hope the next Member of Congress from Grand Rapids also shows a dedication to the Great Lakes and an understanding of the potential of clean energy jobs for Michigan.

*The non-partisan LCV Scorecard is a nationally accepted yardstick used to rate Member of Congress on conservation and clean energy issues. Based on key conservation votes in the House and Senate, it is often used by the media to quickly describe a Member’s position. For more information, visit www.lcv.org/scorecard.