Polluters, not taxpayers will be held accountable for paying to clean up contamination under new legislation

Polluters, not taxpayers will be held accountable for paying to clean up contamination under new legislation

LANSING – The Michigan League of Conservation Voters voiced support for legislation introduced today to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up contamination. The seven bill package led by Sen. Jeff Irwin and Rep. Jason Morgan would increase transparency for contaminated site cleanup and put in place accountability measures so corporations that pollute our land and water are responsible for paying to clean it up, not taxpayers. 

“We teach our children that when you make a mess, you clean it up. Corporate polluters should be held to the same standard. Polluters should be footing the bill for cleaning up contamination they cause, not taxpayers,” said Nick Dodge, communications director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Requiring polluters to pay for cleaning up their messes will protect the health of our communities, save taxpayers dollars and help address contaminated sites that impact communities across Michigan.”

Michigan has more than 24,000 known contaminated sites. The corporate polluters who caused the damage have evaded responsibility for cleanup costs at about half of those sites, putting the financial burden of “orphaned” sites on the state and, ultimately, taxpayers. Even at sites with a “responsible party,” current law allows polluters to leave contamination in place if they limit access. The Polluter Pay legislation will set more stringent cleanup standards, increase transparency, prevent sites from becoming orphaned and make it easier for those harmed by pollution to seek justice. 

From 1990 to 1995, Michigan was a national leader in holding corporate polluters accountable thanks to strong “Polluter Pay” laws. During that five year period, Michigan taxpayers saved more than $100 million because corporate polluters were better held accountable for paying for their mess. In 1995, those laws were stripped away and the number of contaminated sites has increased. 

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