Michigan Environmental Report
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 tunnel proposal is in no way a done deal, and a hearing Friday before the Michigan Public Service Commission is just one example of the continued review process the corporation must undergo, several environmental groups said today.
While Enbridge Energy may have received permits from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) for the Line 5 tunnel, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Before construction can begin, Enbridge still needs approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Michigan Public Service Commission and multiple local municipalities.
Michigan’s people, places and economy are en route to being healthier and more resilient thanks in part to the Wednesday appointments of environmental champions to the state’s new Council on Climate Solutions.
The citizen-led group will formulate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan and ensure it is justly implemented. The Plan will help Michigan fight off the worst of climate change by guiding it toward carbon neutrality by 2050.
Among the Council’s appointees was Charlotte Jameson, program director for legislative affairs, drinking water and energy for the Michigan Environmental Council. She will serve as the Council’s co-chair of the buildings and housing workgroup.