Freshwater Weekly 2/22/18
This week: help prevent dramatic change to Michigan’s environmental law + working to improve Great Lakes decision-making + plastic pollution in Toronto + 2018 grant funding now available + more ways to make a difference.
STILL TIME TO STOP MICHIGAN BILLS THAT WOULD DRAMATICALLY ALTER ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
We do our best to avoid sensational claims and headlines, but we can’t emphasize enough how dramatically these two sets of Michigan bills would undermine existing environmental protections and change how our environmental laws are implemented. If passed, these bills could impact all environmental law in Michigan, for years to come.
- Senate Bill 652 and House Bill 5333 transfer decision-making power from environmental experts to a committee of stakeholders comprised primarily of industry representatives. There is no requirement that committee members have environmental science education, training, or experience—only that they have a stake in the outcome of decisions.
- Senate Bill 653 and House Bill 5332 change the appeal process for environmental permit applicants. DEQ decisions—like denied permits for mining or for development in wetlands—could be appealed to a board of the governor’s political appointees, and their decisions would be final.
TAKE ACTION: Email your Michigan senator and representative today. Tell them you want experts—not industry—making the state’s environmental decisions; tell them to vote “NO” on this collection of bills.
WORKING TO IMPROVE GREAT LAKES DECISION-MAKING
The 2008 Great Lakes Compact governs the management of Great Lakes water, including requests for water withdrawals outside the Great Lakes basin. With the decision last year to approve the first Great Lakes water diversion to Waukesha, Wisconsin—and a pending request from Racine, Wisconsin to divert 7 million gallons of Lake Michigan water a day for use at the new Foxconn plant—many environmentalists share a growing concern that the decision-making process does not adequately consider public opinion, which is largely opposed to such diversions.
This process is currently under review by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Regional Body (“the Regional Body”) and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (“the Council”). Freshwater Future has joined a number of other environmental groups in submitting detailed recommendations to ensure that the decision-making process is updated to involve robust public consultation and that future decisions are transparent and legally defensible. You can read the full letter here.
This is just the beginning of a lengthy revision process. We’ll keep you updated on opportunities to lend your voice as we work together to ensure that our Great Lakes waters are protected.
TORONTO EXPLORES WAY TO REDUCE PLASTIC POLLUTION
Together the US and Canada discard 22 million pounds of plastic into the waters of the Great Lakes each year. A lot of that plastic ends up on our beaches— approximately 80 percent of the litter on Great Lakes shorelines is plastic, and Toronto is among the worst contributors to plastic pollution.
Fortunately, Canada’s largest city is looking for ways to cut back on plastic. Last month, Toronto city councillors directed staff to report on options for reducing the use of—or increasing recycling of—single-use plastic such as shopping bags and takeout containers.
Learn more about what they’re considering—and how you can help—at our sister organization Freshwater Future Canada.
NOW ACCEPTING GRANT APPLICATIONS—APRIL 10 DEADLINE
One of the most important and impactful ways Freshwater Future protects the Great Lakes is by making grants to grassroots groups working throughout the region to protect the waters in their communities. We’re now accepting grant applications through April 10, 2018 from grassroots groups engaged in local advocacy efforts to protect shorelines, inland lakes, rivers, groundwater, drinking water, and wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin.
You can find all the details you’ll need to get started applying for a grant—including the request for proposals—here on our website. And if you’re not part of a grassroots group in need of these funds, help us spread the word by forwarding this email to someone who is.
MORE WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There are lots of simple ways to help protect our waters. Find more at freshwaterfuture.org/take-action.