Groups blast proposed cuts to state air, water protection programs
State lawmakers on Tuesday proposed plans to dramatically weaken essential programs that protect Michigan residents from tainted drinking water, toxic groundwater contamination and harmful air pollution, leading environmental groups said.
House and Senate subcommittees approved budget proposals that include significant cuts to Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed funding for the Department of Environmental Quality.
Cuts approved by both subcommittees include a $14.9 million reduction in funds to address contaminated sites around the state, and a $2.6 million cut to enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act as it pertains to lead in drinking water.
The House plan also calls for a $1.4 million reduction for inspections and responses to complaints under the Clean Air Act, and a $1 million cut to oversight of oil and gas drilling operations.
"The proposed cuts would undermine critical bedrock environmental and public health programs that Michiganders depend on," said Charlotte Jameson, government affairs director for Michigan League of Conservation Voters. "The one-two punch of President Trump's gutting of key federal environmental safeguards combined with expiration of Clean Michigan Initiative bonds here make it imperative that Michigan legislators identify sustainable funding to protect Michigan's natural resources."
The public health and quality-of-life benefits of funding these programs would dwarf any savings from the proposed cuts, said James Clift, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council.
"I think most Michigan residents will gladly pay the cost of a cup of coffee a year to support basic protections for the health of their families," Clift said. "Lawmakers should support these programs that we all count on to provide clean air and safe drinking water. Cutting them would be a big mistake."
Michigan Environmental Council
Michigan League of Conservation Voters