Opinion: Snyder is taking action on PFAS contamination
Spreading blame to further a political agenda is not what the people of Michigan need. Michiganians deserve leaders who are going to ask the difficult questions and are willing to make tough choices for the good of the people – regardless of politics. Gov. Rick Snyder is one of those leaders.
I have been in and out of public service and politics for 25 years, where I have seen politicians come together for the public good such as with recent flooding in the U.P. and as we see in the Kalamazoo area today concerning PFAS (per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances). I have also seen others just point fingers for political points, as some did in Flint.
Unfortunately, that same finger-pointing is again coming from some politicians in Lansing since learning PFAS was found in the water systems of Parchment and Cooper Township near Kalamazoo.
Now, rather than getting caught up in politics, Snyder is working for the people he serves and leading the way nationally in working to protect our water from PFAS — the new contaminant affecting almost every state.
As soon as PFAS was discovered in Michigan’s drinking water, our governor went to work. He created the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) in a proactive effort to, among many things, test every water system across the state regardless of size. No other state is doing this. Because this governor asked the right questions, 3,100 Michiganders living in the city of Parchment and Cooper Township are now being protected from this contaminant.
The science around PFAS is ever-evolving. In 2012, an internal report at the Department of Environmental Quality looked at issues involving PFAS. The author asked that it not be shared with the governor’s office because it wasn’t ready without further scientific review. In 2016, the EPA set a lower national advisory level for PFAS.
In 2017, soon after Snyder created MPART, the report was shared with our office and we immediately took action. Partisan politicians that like to point blame rather than solve problems see a chance to gain political points by saying the governor should have acted on an internal report that even the author said wasn’t ready.
Make no mistake, PFAS contamination is an emerging national issue, and it will likely be found all across the U.S. It has been used in everything from firefighting foam, to furniture protectants, and even fast-food wrappers and pizza boxes. The reason we are hearing more about this in our state is because we are the only ones aggressively looking for it. Rather than wait for the EPA to set a national standard for PFAS levels in drinking water, we set our own to root out this contaminant and hold polluters accountable.
There are those who blamed Snyder personally for the water contamination in Flint. While mistakes were made at all government levels that contributed to the awful problem, it was Snyder who, once science confirmed the issue, shouldered the blame and went to work to solve the problem. In dealing with this PFAS issue, Snyder is once again proving that he is willing to prioritize the people he serves over any political agenda.
Because of the foresight of this governor and his courage to ignore partisan politics, Michigan is now the national leader in PFAS response and will be a model for the rest of the nation.
Dick Posthumus is chief of staff to Gov. Rick Snyder and former lieutenant governor of Michigan.