Legislation would undermine MDEQ

Michigan’s recent wave of bad environmental policies should serve as a wake-up call. From water crises to inland oil spills, entirely preventable disasters can and must be stopped in the Great Lakes State.

There’s no question the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has an impact on our lives.

That’s why we need to head in the direction of making MDEQ more accountable to citizens.

Senate Bills 652-654, which have already passed Michigan’s Senate, are dangerous. If passed, they would give an unelected, unaccountable panel the right to override the MDEQ’s decisions. This panel would be mandated through the law to be stacked with representatives from industries — the very ones that are overseen by the department.

It is an almost unfathomable conflict of interest to give industries the right to regulate themselves. These bills are an assault on the public, making a mockery of the entire process.

If passed, citizens would have no reason to even attempt to engage with MDEQ. Even with convincing evidence, industry-backed representatives would be able to overturn the science they found objectionable. The whole process of public participation and fact-based regulation would be pointless.

How can the Great Lakes State, containing a good portion of the world’s surface freshwater, claim to care about the environment with such a system?

For the sake of Michigan’s future, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder must reject Senate Bills 652-654. And, preferably, begin an honest dialogue on how to improve our institutions, not sell them to industries, campaign contributors, and the highest bidder.

Andrew Sarpolis, organizing representative

Sierra Club

Keep drinking water safe

Although we normally don’t think about where water comes from when we turn on the tap in our homes and businesses, National Drinking Water Week (May 6-12) is a reminder that water is a precious resource essential to our economy and well-being.

More than 7.2 million Michigan residents receive water from about 1,425 community water systems, which draw water from aquifers, lakes and rivers. To protect your local drinking water source, start taking the following steps:

Avoid littering our rivers and lakes.

Instead of pouring paint, used oil, chemical cleaners and similar household items down the drain, take advantage of local recycling programs which will dispose of such items properly.

Use gravel, stones, wood or other porous materials on your property to reduce storm water runoff, which often contains contaminants. Rather than flushing non-degradable products, such as baby wipes or feminine hygiene products, in the toilet, dispose of them in the trash.

Use environment-friendly lawn care and household cleaning agents.

Scoop up pet waste from yards before the bacteria-laden material can run into storm drains and water supplies.

Christine Spitzley, board of trustees chair

Michigan Section-American

Water Works Association

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