Capital Catch-Up: March 14, 2022

Capital Catch-Up: March 14, 2022

MI House Votes to Suspend State Gas Tax; MLCV Opposes

In a flurry of legislative activity and with little to no vetting and committee review, the Michigan House voted 63-39 to temporarily suspend the state gas tax last Wednesday. Michigan LCV opposed the measure primarily because HB 5570 would result in an estimated $725 million cut to the state’s road budget that presumably (no guarantee) would be back-filled with general fund dollars. The proposal comes as gas prices across the country are reaching all-time highs due to the war in Ukraine, profiteering by oil and gas companies, supply and demand driven inflation. 

Struggling low-income families need real relief; all drivers do not 

The current rise in gas prices is a powerful reminder that an economy tied to globally priced oil and gas makes America vulnerable to the decisions of often hostile foreign leaders. As the price of gas keeps going up, Michigan LCV recognizes the pressure placed on low-income, hard-working families already struggling to make ends meet. Michigan LCV would support real, meaningful, targeted relief for those that most need it through the restoration of Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit. 

In the midst of the tragic war in Ukraine we must be honest with Michiganders — we can’t drill or tax-cut our way out of high gas prices. Instead, we can provide families short term relief through passing other, more targeted policies, like Governor Whitmer’s proposed expansion of the earned income tax credit; and we can take meaningful steps to stop the weaponization of oil and gas by accelerating our transition to renewable energy sources.

It is irresponsible to make ongoing structural revenue decisions that will cut resources to invest in the state’s many critical funding priorities, including our drinking water infrastructure, at the very moment Michiganders and our communities are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. We must ensure that our state’s budgetary resources are invested in structural priorities that build long-term quality of life, not ineffective attempts to lower globally-influenced gas prices.

Quick Hits

Get Your Comments In! MI Healthy Climate Plan Portal Closes Today

The public comment period for the Governor’s Draft MI Healthy Climate Plan closes today (March 14, 2022) at 5 p.m. The Final MI Healthy Climate Plan will lay out Michigan’s pathway to reaching a 100% carbon-free economy by 2050. You can either send your own email to EGLE or use Michigan LCV’s one-click action alert to make your voice heard.

House Passes Resolution Doubling Down on Antiquated Line 5

Also on Wednesday, the House voted 62-40 in support of HR 250, a resolution supporting the continued operation of Line 5. Michigan LCV opposes doubling down on fossil fuel infrastructure, and these extreme periods of oil and gas price increases are one of the top reasons why. Continuing to rely on antiquated (and in Line 5’s case, exceptionally dangerous), globally priced fossil fuel resources leaves Michigan vulnerable to profit-seeking corporations and authoritarians like Vladimir Putin who weaponize oil and gas. 

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Seek to Streamline Water Infrastructure Grant Process

Last Thursday, a group of bipartisan lawmakers headed by Reps. David Martin (R – Davison), Beth Griffin (R – Paw Paw), and Sara Cambensy (D – Marquette) introduced legislation to edit the process by which state water infrastructure dollars are disbursed to local governments (through the State Revolving Fund). 

How money moves through the State Revolving Fund is especially important now as federal infrastructure dollars flow through the state to local governments. Programmatic details in this important yet complicated law help the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy determine which communities and projects should receive priority funding. 

MLCV’s Accountability Corner – Rep. Rogers, Sen. McCann & AG Nessel, Champions for the Kalamazoo River

A decade after a leak in Enbridge’s Line 10 sent over 843,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River, the waterway is the site of another emergency that is endangering its water quality and the opportunity for recreation along its banks. 

Mismanagement from Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, the operator of the Morrow Dam in Comstock Twp., has resulted in the discharge of over 173 feet of sediment directly into the river. The sediment has impacted wildlife and recreators, who in some instances, have needed rescuing from the muck. 

In response, Kalamazoo’s elected leaders Rep. Julie Rogers (D – Kalamazoo) and Sen. Sean McCann (D – Kalamazoo) have made it a priority to hold Eagle Creek responsible for its gross mismanagement of the Dam. The two have introduced partner legislation, HB 5661 and SB 813, to force the company to remove the damaging sediment. Additionally, AG Dana Nessel has filed a lawsuit against Eagle Creek to hold them liable for the River’s clean up. 

“It should not take years to require responsible parties to take corrective actions if they pollute our waterways. This is an ongoing, man-made disaster, and I will continue to advocate for House Bill 5661 to expedite cleanup and prevent future tragedies like this from happening. [AG Nessel’s lawsuit] is another tool to help hold this company accountable for trashing and ruining the Kalamazoo River.” – Rep. Julie Rogers

“I applaud Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy for moving against the parties responsible for polluting our Kalamazoo River with many tons of ecology-choking, smothering sediment and silt. While this lawsuit moves forward, I will continue pursuing all avenues for immediate cleanup of the river, and also for legislation to equip our state officials with enforcement tools for this and any future similar disaster.” – Sen. Sean McCann

Join The Movement

Get exclusive, real-time updates about environmental action in Lansing — PLUS ways you can take action straight to your inbox.

Join the movement to protect the Great Lakes state

And we’ll show you two ways to help. Together, we can be a voice for change and protect Michigan’s land, air, water, public health, and democracy.