Capital Catch-Up: February 4, 2022
This Week in Lansing
MLCV Calls on Legislature to Fund MI Water in Detroit Free Press Op-Ed
Michigan LCV’s Executive Director, Lisa Wozniak, hammered on the importance of investing in our state’s water infrastructure in an op-ed published in the Detroit Free Press this Thursday. In the piece, Lisa stressed the historic opportunity we have to address our state’s water woes and urged lawmakers to take action.
Her call for action comes as the state House considers SB 565 — a transformational $3.3 billion water infrastructure package which unanimously passed the Senate last year — as Governor Whitmer prepares to deliver her FY 2023 budget recommendations next Thursday. In this year’s State of the State, the Governor emphasized the importance of water as a “kitchen table issue.”
While existing proposals from the legislature and the Governor address many of the issues plaguing our state’s crumbling water systems, including lead service line replacement, wastewater infrastructure repair, and septic system replacement, more funding is needed to fully address Michigan’s $20 billion water infrastructure need at scale.
The pie needs to grow, and here’s how:
- $500 million to fund green infrastructure and stormwater management, which will reduce severe flooding caused by climate-fueled precipitation events.
- $500 million to provide short-term water assistance and catalyze transparency and legislation to move Michigan to a system that provides subsistence levels of water for little to no cost.
- $50 million for clean up activities at all contaminated sites. Michigan has over 24,000 contaminated sites that put our public health at risk.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvest in our water infrastructure with the inflow of funds from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and a bi-partisan infrastructure bill,” Wozniak wrote. “Michigan’s water is not a partisan issue, and it’s directly tied to the health of our economy. It’s time to [invest in our water infrastructure] for future generations.”
MLCV Needs You! EGLE Extends MI Healthy Climate Commenting Period to Hold Robust EJ Discussion
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) extended the public comment period on Governor Whitmer’s Draft MI Healthy Climate Plan until March 14th. EGLE also announced an additional climate listening session focused on environmental justice on February 14th from 6-8 p.m. Another session is scheduled for Feb. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m.
You can also submit comments in writing at any time by sending an email to [email protected]; or send a pre-written, customizable message in seconds using the Michigan LCV template and the Michigan LCV toolkit.
Get ‘Er Done Babe!
Over the last year, Michigan LCV has been encouraging House Energy Chair Joe Bellino to move common-sense clean energy legislation. Rooftop and community solar bills are stalled in his committee, and both bills are also opposed by our state’s big utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE.
Rooftop and community solar, solar PILT, and energy efficiency standards are all critical tools in the fight against climate change, and signal to investors that Michigan is open for business. These issues will continue to be a priority for environmental organizations, clean energy businesses, and their advocates until they are made available to the people of Michigan.
Rep. Morse Introduces Bill to Sink Diesel-Polluting School Buses
On Wednesday, Rep. Christine Morse (D-Texas Twp.) introduced HB 5721, a proposal to allow school districts to use existing sinking funds to electrify their bus fleets. You can read more about why these bills are important for Michiganders here.
Reps. Sneller and Hood Set the PACE for Residential Energy Upgrades
On Tuesday, Reps. Tim Sneller (D-Burton) and Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) introduced bills to expand Michigan’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program to residential customers. Michigan’s PACE program has successfully helped businesses finance the up-front costs of a host of projects, including energy efficiency.
MLCV In Action
Hallie Fox Testifies for Michigan State Parks!
MLCV’s Legislative Aide, Hallie Fox, testified before the House Transportation Committee in support of bipartisan bills to expand Michigan’s recreation passport system.
In her testimony, Hallie also hammered on the need to invest in Michigan’s public lands more broadly: “Across the state, people of both parties are acknowledging the impact our state parks have on our quality of life,” she said. “We have a historic opportunity to invest in our natural lands. The time is now to preserve our parks for future generations.”
Public Servant Spotlight
Dr. Brandy Brown: Fighting for Clean Energy and Land Conservation!
Dr. Brandy Brown Ph.D. of Kalamazoo was appointed last month by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board (MNRTF), the government body which oversees grant funding for public land acquisition and development.
Dr. Brown brings a strong background in environmental protection and clean energy issues. Currently, she serves as the chief innovation officer for Walker-Miller Energy Services, which advises companies on carbon emissions reduction. Brown also worked as the first director of the Office of Climate and Energy within EGLE.
Few people have as much expertise and experience in conservation issues as Dr. Brown, and Michigan LCV applauds Gov. Whitmer for nominating her for this important public service role. The people of Michigan are lucky to have Dr. Brown as a conservation champion working to protect and preserve our state’s public lands!
What are some environmental issues that you have worked on which you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of my work to incorporate the consideration of climate impacts into programmatic approaches within the Michigan Department of Environment and Energy. Issues like air quality and green space are intrinsically linked and need to be appropriately valued as we make decisions that impact future generations.
What makes Michigan’s public lands so special to you?
I was fortunate enough to grow up near several nature preserves in Southwest Michigan. As a child, I was able to witness and enjoy the beauty of nature and local wildlife whenever I felt the need. I believe that everyone should be afforded a similar opportunity to connect with nature because being in relationship with the land is critical to one’s health and well-being.