Updated December 12, 2018
The Michigan Legislature during its ongoing lame-duck session – in rushed fashion with little public input or time for lawmaker consideration – is moving a series of bad bills, which threaten the quality of our lakes, streams, wetlands, forests, prairies, and the Great Lakes.
To help FLOW and many allied groups fight back, please read the bill summaries below, and – for greater detail – click on the links to review the bill text and any state-prepared analysis.
And if you live outside Michigan, but spend some of your time and money in the Great Lakes state appreciating its lakes, streams, forests, and other natural resources, please let Michigan’s Senate leadership and House leadership know your concerns. Thank you!
The list of bad bills in Michigan’s ongoing lame-duck legislative session:
Binding the Mackinac Bridge to Enbridge’s Proposed Line 5 Oil Tunnel – Senate Bill 1197:
This bill is part of Gov. Snyder’s last-ditch effort to allow Enbridge Energy to operate its risky Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac for another decade while a private oil tunnel is considered as a replacement. It would also put the Mackinac Bridge Authority in charge of the proposed tunnel, which would be leased to Enbridge for 99 years, and has the potential to expose the Authority and the taxpayers of Michigan to liability if it ever results in a spill or other accident impacting the Great Lakes, the Pure Michigan economy, and the transport of iron ore critical to much of the nation’s steel production and related industry.
The State House and Senate on December 11, 2018, passed Senate Bill 1197, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law on December 12, 2018. See our latest update here.
Endangering Local Wetlands – Senate Bill 1211:
This bill is a devastating attack on Michigan’s wetlands and inland lakes, potentially removing protection for millions of acres of wetlands, thousands of miles of streams, and hundreds of inland lakes. Wetlands filter pollutants, store floodwaters, mitigate climate change by storing carbon and provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat. SB 1211 would dramatically undermine these values and substantially undo Michigan’s nationally renowned wetland law, which the Legislature approved in 1979.
The State Senate approved the bill 23-14 on December 4. It was referred to the State House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness. A new version of the bill is expected to be considered by the Committee on Tuesday, December 18. We will post an updated analysis. You can find Members of the Committee here.
Weakening Cleanup of Chemical Pollution – Senate Bill 1244:
This bill would cripple the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s ability to set chemical contamination cleanup standards that are protective of public health, meaning unsafe levels of many toxins would be allowed to remain in the environment. The state’s current PFAS cleanup standard could more than double.
According to DEQ:
- The legislation would prevent DEQ from using the best science to develop cleanup standards. Some of the cleanup criteria would be less protective than the current criteria, contrary to the best science.
- The legislation would prevent DEQ from developing cleanup criteria that protect pregnant women and their unborn and very young children.
- The language describing how the department will develop the cleanup criteria is arbitrary and not supported by any scientific information.
- The legislation would prevent DEQ from addressing volatile contaminants in groundwater and soil that are impacting indoor air and threaten human health.
The State Senate approved this bill 23-14 as well on December 4 and it, too, was referred to the State House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness. It is also expected to come before the Comittee on Tuesday, December 18.
Restricting Local Protection of Trees – Senate Bills 1188-1194:
These bills would prevent cities, townships and villages from adopting or enforcing ordinances that prohibit or restrict removal of trees and vegetation anywhere except on residential property. These bills may also prohibit planning commissions from requiring projects to have protected natural areas, regardless of whether the purpose is to manage stormwater, provide buffers, or preserve unique natural features. Many local governments have ordinances and site plan review provisions to protect trees and vegetation, especially riparian vegetation vital for healthy water and aquatic habitats.
The State Senate approved these bills on December 4. The State House Committee on Local Government was scheduled to take up the bill on December 11. As of December 14, the bills were still pending in committee. Members of that Committee are listed here.
No Stronger than Federal — House Bill 4205:
Governor Snyder will decide whether to approve a bill that would bar any state agency from setting more protective standards than the federal government. HB 4205 would prevent Michigan from protecting citizens from toxic chemicals and would make it difficult to protect vital natural resources when the federal government can’t or won’t act. State decision-makers should be free to act using the best science available. If it had been law in the 1960s and 1970s, HB 4205 would have prevented Michigan from taking action to ban DDT and other toxic chemicals.
The State Senate approved the bill 24-13 on December 5, 2018. The State House approved the bill 57-52 on December 12, 2018.