Michigan Environmental Report
We are into week two of lame duck* with two weeks left to go. As promised, we have an update for you on what is happening at the Capitol. It’s not pretty.
*Lame duck: a period of time when successors have been chosen for elected officials. Politicians who will be leaving their position remain in power until they are officially replaced on inauguration day.
This is the second installment of our Capitol Countdown to the New Year. Through the end of the year, we’ll be keeping track and reporting back to you on lame duck legislation that will either hurt or help the health of Michigan’s people and environment. We have also created forms that make it simple and fast for you to email your state lawmakers (see the links below).
We have a huge and urgent problem. The Michigan House is poised to vote on a bill that would bar any state agency from setting more protective standards than the federal government. House Bill 4205, also known as “No Stricter than Federal,” was taken up in the Michigan House this week, after sitting stagnant for more than a year. We successfully held off a vote for now, but the bill will be back up next week and pressure is mounting on legislators to vote yes.
On Wednesday, November 28, the Senate Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on SB 1211 introduced by Senator Tom Casperson. Michigan Environmental Council, as well as many other environmental organizations, are strongly opposed to this bill. SB 1211 will completely overhaul how Michigan’s wetlands, inland lakes and streams are regulated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Currently, Michigan is one of two states with delegated authority from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to administer the Clean Water Act. Michigan’s program is already noncompliant with federal standards, and SB 1211 will push us further out of compliance. The result is increased degradation of our water quality and the elimination of lakes and wetlands vital for ecological health and outdoor recreation. Michigan Environmental Council released the following statement in response:
On Tuesday, November 6, Election Day will finally be here. With Michigan’s environment facing threats on multiple fronts, strong leadership is more important now than ever. We understand that taking just an hour out of your day to go vote can be difficult, so here are some helpful tips to make your Election Day a good one!
LANSING - Starting in 2019, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has proposed to no longer consider local zoning when determining the location of livestock operations under the Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices (GAAMPs). GAAMPs are voluntary farming guidelines established under the Right to Farm Act. If followed, GAAMPs afford farm operators protections from nuisance complaints and lawsuits from neighbors. Under current GAAMP standards, MDARD considers local zoning ordinances when evaluating locations for livestock operation placements. Under the proposed changes, however, MDARD would not consider such information. Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan Townships Association released the following statement in regards to this proposal:
On July 3, DTE Energy filed a rate case with the Michigan Public Service Commission. If it is approved, it would increase electricity bills for DTE residential customers by $240 per year by 2022.
LANSING – A white paper released today by the Michigan Environmental Council details the ways in which coal-fired power plants have contaminated Michigan’s Great Lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater and drinking water with toxins like mercury, arsenic and lead. The report comes at a time when communities across Michigan are struggling with drinking water contaminated with Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and other toxic chemicals.
Gov. Snyder today announced his plan for the 65-year-old pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, commonly known as Line 5. The state and Enbridge, the company that owns Line 5, made a deal that allows Enbridge to build a tunnel below the Straits. This tunnel would be owned and operated by the State of Michigan, but would be leased to Enbridge for a term of up to 99 years to house the pipeline.
“Line 5 remaining active in its current condition is a threat to the Great Lakes, plain and simple,” said MEC President and CEO Chris Kolb. “The tunnel will take years to build and during that time the risk of a spill from the existing 65-year-old pipeline poses a very serious threat. At any moment, Line 5 could leak 2.4 million gallons of crude oil into the Great Lakes and cause billions of dollars of damage to our waters, coastal communities, and recreational economy.”