As Gov. Rick Snyder faces his final months in office, his bid to complete the Snyder agenda continues to focus, to a surprising extent, on environmental issues.
Today, Snyder joined with two politically conservative interest groups, the Michigan Farm Bureau and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, to make one more push for a long-term plan to fund the cleanup of 3,000 abandoned, polluted sites across the state.
Two bills before the Legislature backed aggressively by Snyder would tie the revitalization of contaminated properties with plans to triple the state’s rate of recycling waste and a substantial increase on fees charged by landfills, which could largely halt the caravan of Canadian trash trucks coming to Michigan.
In addition, the Republican governor seeks to address the Great Lakes water contaminants known as PFAS, consisting of the hazardous industrial chemicals perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. An allocation of $110 million to begin fixing Michigan’s aging sewer and drinking water infrastructure, including lead-laden service lines, is also part of the legislation.
The governor continues to receive praise from environmental groups as he stands by these proposals.
“Michigan Environmental Council is fully supportive of Gov. Snyder’s proposals …” said MEC president and CEO Chris Kolb. “These two bills will strengthen Michigan’s ability to address current environmental concerns as well as help prevent future threats from arising. … We thank Gov. Snyder for using his final months in office to help push for this critical legislation.”
The Flint water crisis will forever taint Snyder’s legacy but the goals he set in his February State of the State Address have mostly been met – increased K-12 school funding, added fiscal stability for the state budget, and a $100 million initiative to steer students and workers toward training for high-demand jobs.
But completion of his environmental agenda remains tentative. In particular, the goal of preventing an Asian Carp infestation of the Great Lakes may take many months or even years.
“We agree with Gov. Snyder that the state of Michigan needs to invest more, and more wisely, in brownfield site cleanup and water infrastructure improvements,” said chamber CEO Rich Studley. “The sooner we work together to address these pressing issues, the less expensive it will be to fix problems. As a state, we need to be making strategic decisions on how to fund the cleanup of contaminated sites as well as make regular investments in water infrastructure to prevent expensive emergencies.”
The political heft of the chamber could prove crucial. With few days of legislative session left for the state House and Senate before the November election, the best chance for action on the two bills may come down to the lame-duck session in December.