Capital Catch-Up: October 15, 2021

Capital Catch-Up: October 15, 2021

Introducing the Great Lakes PFAS Action Agenda

The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, a coalition of community members impacted by PFAS contamination, unveiled its PFAS Action Agenda this Tuesday with both a lobby day and capitol press conference. The Action Agenda, a set of policy and funding priorities that seek to address PFAS in Michigan, comes at a time when the Michigan Legislature is considering how to spend an extraordinary $11 billion in federal American Rescue Plan dollars and unanticipated state revenue. 

The PFAS Action Agenda includes key priorities to address the PFAS crisis, such as:

  1. Protecting and supporting PFAS impacted communities through providing clean water sources, increasing transparency with communities, and increasing bio-monitoring efforts in impacted communities
  2. Cleaning up existing contamination through multi-level investments in PFAS site remediation and redevelopment
  3. Preventing future PFAS contamination by stopping PFAS at the source and banning its use in non-essential products
  4. Holding corporate and government polluters accountable by tightening our polluter pay laws and making sure that taxpayers and impacted communities do not have to foot the bill for corporate bad actions
  5. Increasing PFAS monitoring and data collection in order to better track PFAS contamination in wildlife and to set better health-based drinking water standards

“PFAS impacts people, communities, waterways and wildlife across our entire state. It’s a growing crisis that requires forward-thinking action, and there are concrete steps that state policy makers can take now in order to address it.” said Tony Spaniola, co-chair of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network and community leader with Need Our Water in Oscoda, MI.  “As leaders on the front lines of this crisis, we live and experience it like no one else.  We know that it will continue to grow and that we need to get out in front of it with urgency and resolve.”

You can learn more about the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network by visiting their website.

‘Fix the damn utilities’… It’s not the trees.

This Wednesday, the House Energy Committee invited Chairman Dan Scripps of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to provide testimony in its first hearing on this summer’s series of power outages. The outages, which were primarily caused by repeated, climate driven extreme weather events, left thousands of Michiganders in the dark – some for over a week.  The hearing focused much too heavily on a lack of regular tree-trimming as the main issue, and disappointingly little on innovation and accountability from the state’s regulated utilities.  While trees are involved in some 70% of customer power outages, enhancing grid reliability now and building a smart, climate resilient grid in the future is about much more than tree-line conflicts. 

Tree cutting and trimming is not a real or sufficient response to utility reliability failures, and actually harms overall community climate resilience, property values, and quality of life.  We need systemic, climate resilient solutions to move towards a modern grid worthy of the United States of America in 2021. In contrast to tree trimming, leveraging renewable and distributed energy, battery storage, energy efficiency and demand response, and other emerging technologies and approaches that will provide homes and businesses economic value even during normal operations, in addition to providing security and decreasing the impact of power outages.

While the frequency of this year’s outages were no doubt magnified by climate change and caused by severe weather, Michigan residents are no strangers to unreliable power. According to the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, an independent organization representing the interests of utility customers, Michigan is the 2nd worst state in the nation for power restoration on days where there is no severe weather, and 8th worst in the nation for days that there is. More, Michiganders not only pay the highest energy bills in the Midwest, but thousands of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents also had their power shut off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic while one of the state’s largest utilities, DTE, used its COVID tax breaks to increase shareholder profits. 

Enough is enough. Michigan’s major utilities must be held accountable for their failure to provide the state with reliable, affordable power. Sign the petition demanding an end to rate hikes until there is an investigation into poor service by DTE and Consumers Energy. 

This Week’s Introduced Bills

  • HB 5338, introduced by Chairman Howell of the House Natural Resources Committee, would update the state’s Land Management Strategy for 2021-2027. For more information on the Plan and its contents, see our July 2nd edition of the Capital Catch Up.
  • HB 5389, introduced by Rep. Sowerby, would provide a tax credit for the purchase of a new “green” building or for upgrading an existing building to energy efficient standards. 
  • HB 5391, introduced by Rep. Rabhi, requires all new or renovated parking lots to have electric vehicle charging stations. These bills will help foster the transition to an all-electric transportation system while reducing range anxiety for customers. 

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