State of Michigan environmental programs at risk

In June, the Michigan Legislature passed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. MEC and our partners at Michigan League of Conservation Voters commissioned Public Sector Consultants to produce a budget analysis of the combined impacts of proposed federal budget cuts outlined in President Trump's budget and the state budget cuts being considered for environment protection programs and activities.

The Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) Bond of 1998 authorized $675 million for the work of the Environmental Cleanup and Redevelopment Program, but Michigan's fiscal year 2017 budget appropriates the remaining $14.9 million of the CMI. Governor Snyder proposed a one-time transfer of $14.9 million from the Refined Petroleum Fund to continue the program, but a stable source of continued funding has not been identified. The legislature has not included this shift in funds in their respective budget proposals. If their proposals are sent to the governor for signature in their current form, properties throughout the state will remain contaminated, hindering economic development and putting the public's health and safety at risk. Proposed federal cuts to the EPA's Brownfield Program would only exacerbate this issue.

The DEQ Air Quality Program is responsible for regulating sources of air pollutants to minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment. The program is funded by a variety of measures, including hazardous waste fees. Declines in hazardous waste have reduced the amount of funding available for the program. Governor Snyder and the Senate included $1.4 million in general funds to offset the decreased revenue, but the House did not include additional funding.

The DEQ Oil and Gas Program is responsible for protecting public health and the environment, while supporting oil and gas development. The program is funded by a fee on oil and gas produced in Michigan, and as gas prices have dropped, so has funding for the program. The governor and Senate proposed $4 million from the general fund to offset funding losses, the House did not.

Vapor Intrusion occurs when vapors from existing contamination migrate through water and/or soil to adjacent properties and, subsequently, the air, which causes people to be sick. The DEQ estimates that there are 4,000 sites statewide that are affected by vapor intrusion. The governor proposed $1.3 million to establish a multi-agency program; however, the Senate and House did not fund the program. Without these funds, vapor intrusion risks to Michigan families will continue to be unknown and unaddressed.

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