Letters: Urging Snyder to veto in lame duck
Snyder should veto PFAS bills
I have extraordinary amounts of PFAS in my blood, 750 times the national average. For years I drank PFAS-contaminated water that has tested as high as 70,000 parts per trillion (ppt), 1,000 times the EPA's Lifetime Health Advisory. My husband also drank this water and died of liver cancer in 2016.
In 2017, I learned that the same contamination has affected many of my neighbors. One 2-year-old boy has levels of PFAS at 480,000 ppt in his blood. Others have suffered miscarriages and illnesses that were difficult to explain. None of us were aware of this issue until the DEQ tested our water. We learned that PFAS and other toxic chemicals were disposed of in the ground near my home in Belmont, and as a result have contaminated the groundwater and spread throughout my community.
The dangers of PFAS are frightening and continue to be uncovered. This group of chemicals will not dissipate, will not dissolve or evaporate. It bio-accumulates in humans, animals and plants without breaking down. It’s known to bond easily with human cells and was recently found to be related to several health issues including concerns about male fertility, kidney and liver functioning, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid problems. In children it is linked to various developmental delays and problems with immune system responses.
Unfortunately, this is a widespread problem. Michigan has the opportunity to be a leader and has taken steps in that direction. Snyder formed MPART, a task-force bringing several state agencies together that discovered how widespread this contamination is in our state. PFAS has turned up in dozens of communities including Parchment, Muskegon, Evart and Oscoda. It is suspected there may be up to 11,000 contaminated sites in Michigan.
My neighbors and I hoped that we can find help from the Michigan Legislature to create regulations that set standards for this chemical based on the most recent scientific data. However recent legislation seems to be siding with the interests of industry lobbyists. Our lame duck legislation seems to be set on passing bills which will hamper agencies' ability to set standards based on relevant science and hold polluters responsible.
We are urging Gov. Rick Snyder to veto HB 4205, which sets the state’s drinking water standard in step with the federal government’s, and SB 1244, which would limit cleanup standards. The EPA’s advisory for PFAS levels in water is 70 ppt, a level that many experts say is too high.
It would be a significant step back to limit the cleanup of a chemical that experts fear will be extremely harmful to humans, the environment, fish, wildlife, plants, and agriculture.
For the sake of myself and others like me who have struggled in the wake of this crisis, we ask Snyder to please veto these bills.
Sandy Wynn Stelt
Snyder should uphold referendum
Legislation is working its way to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk that would make it much more difficult for the citizens of Michigan to have a direct say in their own governance by making the referendum and initiative right granted Michiganians in the state constitution incomparably more difficult to exercise. We urge him to veto it.
Michigan first adopted the right of referendum and initiative petition in 1907 during the Progressive Era when citizens were often frustrated by interests with undue influence in Lansing that thwarted government actions supported by a majority of citizens. It was reaffirmed when a new constitution was adopted in 1963.
The need to keep this direct democratic option within reach of our citizens is as great as ever, especially given the loss of confidence in government’s ability to solve problems in recent years. It is difficult to argue that the proposal to limit the number of signatures from any congressional district to 15 percent of the number required is not onerous and does anything but move the right to petition the government beyond the practical reach of its citizens.
Like the recent Proposition 2 campaign, we each led successful petition drives that gathered signatures using volunteers exclusively—the repeal of the sales tax on food and medicine, and the bottle deposit initiative. We are comfortable with a requirement that paid signature collectors be required to identify themselves as such. But a simple button and/or language on the petition itself specifying the collector’s status as paid or volunteer are practical, non-bureaucratic ways to communicate this information.
By vetoing the legislative to weaken the initiative process should it reach his desk, Snyder would help government “by the people” in Michigan.