It is an honor to serve the people of Kalamazoo County in the State Capitol in Lansing every day, where I make environmental protections for our community one of my top priorities.
As the Democratic Vice Chair of the subcommittees in charge of the budgets for the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, it is critical to me that we preserve our natural resources — especially our drinking water.
This newsletter contains updates on drinking water legislation, threats to our Great Lakes, news about renewable energy, how I’m working hard to hold polluters accountable, and much more.
If I can be of assistance to you at any time, you can always reach me through email at SenSMcCann@senate.michigan.gov or by phone at (517) 373-5100.
Toll-free: (855) 347-8020 District: (269) 381-7158
Michigan’s current bottle deposit law is one of our state’s most successful policies, and I believe we could see even more success by expanding the policy to include most other beverage containers like water bottles. That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 701 to do this.
Ever since the bottle deposit law was enacted in 1976, we have successfully reduced roadside litter and created a culture of recycling among Michigan residents. By further expanding our law to include most other beverage containers, we can keep our roadside areas and lakes clean, while also promoting recycling to future generations.
Protecting Our Drinking Water
Michigan is home to our nation’s largest reserve of fresh drinking water. It is imperative that we safeguard it from pollutants and protect it for generations to come. This is why I have introduced several bills, including Senate Bills 103 and 365, to hold polluters accountable.
Senate Bill 103 would repeal a law that forbids our state from setting environmental rules stricter than federal guidelines. Michigan has historically established tough environmental regulations, particularly on emerging pollutants like PFAS. However, corporate lobbyists and polluters have wielded more influence than environmental scientists in the past decade, creating a troublesome ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ situation. We simply cannot afford to have corporate polluters at the table making the rules they believe they should play by. The cost to the public’s health and the price tag for environmental cleanup is simply too great.
Senate Bill 365 would repeal a 2018 ‘lame-duck session’ law which made
it harder for the state to protect communities from corporate polluters. Michigan residents should be able to trust that officials are using state-of-the- art cleanup standards and the latest data to protect them and their neighborhoods. This bill would ensure polluters are held financially accountable, so taxpayers don’t later have to foot the bill for a corporation’s recklessness.
ADDRESSING PFAS At Home
Michigan has more than 80 PFAS-contaminated sites, with several sites in Kalamazoo County, including Parchment, Oshtemo Township, Richland, Portage, and Kalamazoo.
PFAS are persistent, toxic ‘forever chemicals’ that build up over time and become concentrated in animals and humans. It’s critical that we find, isolate, and clean up every PFAS-contaminated site in our state.
PFAS compounds are harmful to our health and have been known to:
• Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant;
• Increase the chance of high blood pressure in pregnant women;
• Increase the chance of thyroid disease;
• Increase cholesterol levels;
• Change immune response; and,
• Increase the chance of cancer, especially kidney and testicular cancers.
Earlier this year, the Michigan Environmental Rules Review Committee fast-tracked new rules for allowable amounts of PFAS in drinking water. It’s the first time in the state’s history that we have set enforceable maximum contaminant levels to regulate chemicals in public water. This is just the beginning, as there is still a lot more work to do to protect people from PFAS. I assure you that this is one of my top priorities and I will continue to do everything I can to keep Kalamazoo County residents safe.
State Budget Funding
The Michigan Legislature appropriated $120 million to protect Michigan’s drinking water for the current fiscal year. These funds are cleaning up PFAS and other emerging contaminants, replacing lead pipes, and providing grants to help communities upgrade their drinking water infrastructure. They can also create sustainable water rate plans and/or the development of watershed plans.
Lead Pipe Removal
Michigan has the strongest protections in the U.S. against lead in drinking water after a 2018 amendment to the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. The law now requires the complete elimination of
lead drinking water pipes over a 20-year period beginning in 2021.
The City of Kalamazoo has stepped up to replace 500 lead service lines per year and is ahead of schedule in their goal to replace all lead lines in the next 18 years. Their Public Works Division also recently completed replacing all lead water lines with copper within the City of Parchment.
CLEANER | GREENER | MORE EFFICIENT
Michigan’s 2016 Energy Law package set ambitious goals for energy providers by requiring them to produce 12.5% of their energy from renewable sources in 2019 and 2020, and 15% by the end of 2021. Currently, all electricity providers subject to these standards have achieved their goals.
As we approach 2021 and hopefully attaining the 15% renewable energy goal, we have a unique opportunity to continue to challenge ourselves and our energy providers to do better. I believe Michigan can, and should, be a leader in renewable energy standards. In fact, the state’s two largest utilities have already made pledges to significantly cut power-sector carbon emissions and are laying out plans with the Michigan Public Service Commission to get there.
While 70% of Michigan’s renewable energy comes from wind turbines, there may also be more opportunities for solar and hydroelectric facilities. I look forward to continuing work on this issue to make Michigan cleaner, greener, and more efficient.
Home to the world’s largest freshwater supply, Michigan has a duty to do everything we can to protect it. Threats to our Great Lakes include rising water levels, the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, and massive, toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie.
High water levels and shoreline erosion
Those who live near our Great Lakes shoreline are increasingly concerned about erosion and the threat of rising water levels. This is also an issue in Kalamazoo County with hundreds of homes around Eagle Lake and Crooked Lake in Texas Township suffering from long-term flooding. Some local roads have been flooded for more than a year. Homes, dunes, and trails are in danger of collapsing or have already collapsed. I support legislation and resources to allow Michigan to protect critical infrastructure and private property.
Line 5 oil pipeline
A 67-year-old oil pipeline lying at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. I am committed to protecting our Great Lakes from this potential disaster by fighting to shut down this pipeline now. Our water is too important to Michigan’s economy. We should not allow known corporate polluters to put our Great Lakes at risk of environmental disasters such as an oil spill — as residents along the Kalamazoo River know all too well due to Enbridge’s pipeline spill there.
Algal blooms in our Great Lakes are a challenge we must address. Blooms are caused by excess nutrients entering the lake. Heavy rains wash soil and fertilizer containing phosphorus and nitrogen into rivers and streams that flow into waterways. This has been most evident along the shore of Lake Erie, where we have seen the harmful effects from such blooms creating toxins and using up oxygen in the water. This leads to fish die-offs and poisoned sources of drinking water. The blooms also wreak environmental havoc and restrict recreational opportunities, as well as negatively impact the local economy and public health of the surrounding area.
At the state level, I will continue to advocate in the legislature for a plan that responsibly reduces the risks of toxic runoff entering our Great Lakes. I encourage all citizens to contribute to the health of their waterways at a personal level by responsibly disposing of pet waste and applying fertilizers only as required, and when necessary.
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