Michigan Environmental Report

News from Michigan Environmental Council on public policies affecting the health of Michigan's people and environment

Lifting cap on small-scale solar creates jobs, saves residents money

Environmental groups endorsed a bill last Wednesday that would eliminate the cap on how many residents and businesses can use small-scale solar energy to power their homes and companies, saying current law restricts job growth and investment and access to affordable energy. 

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters and Michigan Environmental Council testified in support of Rep. Markkenen's House Bill 4236 during the House Energy Committee Wednesday. The Republican from Hancock has the bipartisan support of 12 cosponsors. 


'Bottle Bill' will clean up environment, expand our bottle return system

Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and Rep. Christine Morse (D-Portage) introduced legislation to update and expand Michigan’s 40-year-old “Bottle Bill” law. Michigan Environmental Council will advocate and educate with them for its passage.

Senate Bill 167 and House Bill 4331 would expand the state’s current 10-cent deposit on certain soft drinks, beer, and other carbonated beverages to all other non-carbonated beverages, except for milk containers.


Bill holds corporate polluters accountable, saves taxpayers money

Whether it be the “green ooze” that trickled onto a highway from a shuttered Madison Heights business in 2020 or PFAS currently seeping into west Michigan wells, a new bill ensures those causing pollution catastrophes pay for the health threats they create.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Michigan House Democratic House Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi introduced House Bill 4314, which requires private companies to pay to clean up pollution they create. Current law only requires companies to contain and limit exposure of these pollutants. The financial burden of cleanup falls on residents, who pay through taxes.


Why we're appealing a judge's Line 5 tunnel ruling

Michigan Environmental Council and its fellow Line 5 legal intervenors plan to appeal the decision of a Michigan Public Service Commission Administrative Law Judge regarding the Commission’s review of Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel proposal.

Judge Dennis Mack ruled Tuesday that the Commission must consider environmental impacts when deciding to permit a tunnel that could surround the Line 5 oil pipeline through the Great Lakes for as long as a century. But Mack also ruled that the Commission cannot consider impacts in the context of climate change or the need for the fossil fuels Line 5 transports.

The intervenors' appeal will go before the Commission.


‘True goodness and dogged persistence’: The legacy of Joan Wolfe

Lana Pollack did not know Joan Wolfe too personally. They would occasionally cross paths when Pollack was a three-term Michigan Senator and Wolfe, as ever, was working to make Michigan’s environment better.

The last time they met was 2012 at a service honoring the late Helen Milliken, environmentalist, women’s rights activist, former First Lady of Michigan.

Wolfe carried layers of loss that day, said Pollack, former president and CEO of Michigan Environmental Council. She had just lost her friend, recently lost her husband and was losing her eyesight. Yet, the 83-year-old still carried a force and spirit with her that Pollack felt during all her meetings over the decades.

It was emblematic of Wolfe’s personal and professional life, one that forever changed state and national environmental law and shaped and invigorated Michigan’s environmental movement.


Ten state budget proposals great for health, prosperity, equity

On Thursday, Feb. 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced recommendations for a $67 billion budget for Michigan. If passed, hundreds of millions of dollars will go toward initiatives at the intersection of the environment, health and justice and strengthen the health of people, their communities and the environment.

Many of Gov. Whitmer’s appropriation recommendations mirror those sent to her administration by Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.


Lead filter funding will protect 1.5 million children

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday recommended a $55 million appropriation in grants for schools to install and maintain filtered water fountains with bottle fillers and, in some cases, on-tap filters. With this proposed funding, nearly 1.5 million children and tens of thousands of adults are one step closer being better protected against lead from their school’s drinking water.

This “Filter First” approach, which is based on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s model legislation, is the most health-protective, cost-effective and immediate way to remove lead from school drinking water. The approach is advocated for by a coalition of environmental, health and education organizations and leaders.


How a state certification program could keep our kids safe from lead

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the most hazardous and prevalent sources of lead exposure for U.S. children. About half the homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint, and the chance of finding lead-based paint increases with the age of the house. 

Lead poisoning damages the nervous system in children and causes developmental and behavioral problems lasting a lifetime. Pregnant women and young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead.