Sen. Polehanki, Rep. Koleszar Bills to Increase Fines on Landfill Polluters

LANSING, Mich. (June 3, 2021) — Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) and Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth) today reintroduced legislation to hold landfill polluters accountable.

Senate Bill 512 and House Bill 4961 would enable an increase of allowable fines on landfill air quality and solid waste violations enforced by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). These bills would permit regulators to issue fines that are 10 times larger than currently allowed.

“It is critically important that our state hold companies accountable when they pollute our communities,” Sen. Polehanki said. “The current regulatory fee structure can be insufficient when it comes to enforcement.”

Since December 2015, the owner of the Arbor Hills Landfill has received more than 30 violation notices, with the most recent dated July 24, 2020. They will soon receive an additional violation notice for discharging per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade, toxic ‘forever chemicals — into Johnson Creek, a treasured local waterway.

“We have repeatedly seen instances of corporate polluters being bad actors and not operating in good faith, even after being fined,” Rep. Koleszar said. “It is important that repercussions for dangerous behavior that harms our environment actually hold the polluter accountable because there’s simply no room for excuses when it comes to protecting our natural resources and the public’s health.”

In spring 2019, shortly after taking office, Sen. Polehanki and Rep. Koleszar hosted a town hall during which EGLE delivered a presentation regarding the operation of the Arbor Hills Landfill. Attendees expressed overwhelming support for stricter enforcement of environmental codes and more severe penalties for sites found in violation of the department’s standards.

“With this legislation, we have an opportunity to shore up protections and strengthen environmental regulations,” Sen. Polehanki said. “Good environmental health and economic policy aren’t mutually exclusive. This legislation would increase fines, leverage enforcement, and encourage good corporate behavior — all things that the public is asking us to do. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to getting these bills passed into law.”

Senate Bill 512 and House Bill 4961 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality and the House Committee on Regulatory Reform, respectively.

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