Environment Picture

Priorities for new legislature run the gamut

From Great Lakes water to lice medicine, Lansing will be hopping
A new Michigan Legislature brings new opportunities to protect Michigan’s natural resources. The environmental community is already gearing up for what could shape up as a crucial year for environmental protection. Among our priorities will be the following:

Defend Great Lakes water
We were raised swimming in lakes, fishing in rivers and exploring neighborhood streams. Our families picnic at the beach, canoe inland lakes and slide down sand dunes. The core responsibility for every public officeholder in Michigan is to ensure clean water is available now and in the future.
Priority action:
Ratify the proposed Great Lakes Compact. In addition, protect water from export and diversion and manage in-basin uses to prevent harm to our water resources.

Build a clean energy future
Michigan residents spend $20 billion a year for fuel that comes from other states and from overseas—money that could be used to help our state’s economy. We rely on old, polluting technology that has given us poisoned lakes and fish, shorter life spans and some of the highest asthma rates in the country. It’s time to try something new.
Priority action: Create a public benefits fund for energy efficiency. Energy efficiency could save $4 billion a year in energy costs. Coupled with investing in renewable energy, Michigan could create thousands of jobs promoting clean energy.

Protect children from toxic chemicals

Lindane is a highly toxic, brain-damaging chemical. It is banned for use as a tick medication for dogs. It is banned for use on crops as an herbicide. But the federal government continues to allow lindane to be used on children to treat head lice even though it has been linked to seizures, blood disorders and brain cancer in children.
Priority action: Ban toxic lindane from use in Michigan.

Safeguard public lands
Michigan has the largest state forest system east of the Mississippi River. Families use these lands for a wide variety of recreational uses—hunting, mountain biking, fishing, skiing, hiking, snowmobiling—the list goes on and on. But pressure is mounting to sell these lands, put up fences and keep people out. Local governments are struggling to keep up with the costs of supporting this land.
Priority action: Fully fund payments to local governments where state lands are held.

Stop rampant phosphorus pollution
Michigan waterways are choked with excessive algae and weed growth, partly as a result of phosphorus unnecessarily added to fertilizers and detergents. Virtually all Michigan soils have more than enough phosphorus to support lush lawns and gardens already. And the top-rated detergents are phosphorus-free.
Priority action: Ban phosphorus in dishwashing detergent and encourage better state and local restrictions on its application as a fertilizer.

Choke off out-of-state trash
Michigan’s cheap landfill rates make it attractive for trash haulers from Canada and other states to use it as a dumping ground. Plus, we have one of the worst recycling rates in the region, contributing to the problem.
Priority action: Re-establish a moratorium on new landfills and increase dumping fees to fund recycling programs and to stop outsiders from cashing in on Michigan’s dumps.

Preserve Michigan’s wild
Deer hunting is a vital part of Michigan’s outdoor heritage and recreation economy. Yet growing wildlife disease may devastate deer populations. Improper management and lax regulation of captive deer herds is linked to the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease among wild herds.
Priority action: Empower the Department of Natural Resources to regulate Michigan’s captive deer herds.

Support Smart Growth
Without strong cities, Michigan cannot compete in the global marketplace. We need vibrant cities to attract and retain young, educated workers. Michigan needs to reshape its urban regions around a world-class transportation system. Priority action: Boost state support and enact new laws to create more local funding tools to create and operate metropolitan transit systems.
-James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council
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