(The Center Square) – Michigan Democrat lawmakers introduced a seven-bill package aimed at reducing pollution.
The lawmakers say current law doesn’t hold polluters accountable for the public cost of remediating land, often shouldered by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
“Michigan’s current laws make it very hard for the public and even for EGLE to know what is going on at polluted sites,” Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, Irwin said in a statement. “A corporation can spill a toxic chemical, clean it up on their own recognizance and never tell anyone. Senate Bill 605 would end these secret cleanups and make a wide range of information public, including baseline environmental assessments and cleanup plans.”
SB 605 and House Bill 5247 aim to give EGLE and the public more information about polluted sites and cleanups. SB 606 and HB 5242 aim to require polluters to pay for restoration of land and water to usable condition as much as technically feasible.SB 607 and HB 5245 seek to enable EGLE to set cleanup criteria.SB 608 and HB 5246 aim to require businesses with large amounts of potentially polluting materials to post up-front financial assurance to cover any cleanup.SB 609 and HB 5243 seek to allow the state to sue on behalf of the public to cover cleanup costs and damage to natural resources due to contaminants like PFAS not known to be harmful at the time the limitation period expired for other contaminants.SB 610 and HB 5241 aim to enable people exposed to hazardous substances to sue the polluter for medical costs related to exposure.SB 611 and HB 5244 seek to allow a pollution or damages claim related to a hazardous substance when the plaintiff discovers the claim.
“We cannot allow polluters to leave contamination in place, making ever-growing portions of our land and water unusable,” Rep. Jason Morgan, D-Ann Arbor, said in a statement. “If you are responsible for causing pollution, you should have to pay to clean it up. This legislation makes it clear that fencing off the land or closing drinking water wells is not a substitute for removing as much pollution as possible. Let’s reclaim our state and ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay to clean up their messes.”
The bills are expected to be referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment and to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation.
Tami Parks, owner of Great Lakes Clothing Care and member of the Great Lakes Business Network, supports the package.
“Businesses that are doing the right thing have to compete against bad actors who believe they won’t have to bear the costs of cleaning up any pollution they leave behind,” Parks said in a statement. “This legislation would put us on a fair footing by requiring businesses to carry cleanup insurance that prices in the environmental risks of their operations.”