How Green Is Your Governor?

“We have always defied the odds. And we are going to do it again, together. We are going to prove that our shared future is more powerful than the issues that divide us.” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Inaugural Address, January 1, 2019
Throughout her campaign, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ran on a pro-conservation platform. It is now Governor Whitmer’s time to turn her promises into actions, because bold action is what will make Michigan stronger.
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As Governor Whitmer works to address Michigan’s significant water problems and threats to our Great Lakes and public lands, we will continue to hold her and her administration accountable through this tool — “How Green is Your Governor?”

Michigan LCV’s “How Green is Your Governor” tool tracks and grades all of the actions of Governor Whitmer, her administration and the statewide departments she directs as decisions are made on issues that are vital to protecting our environment, re-energizing our economy, and moving Michigan forward. Monitoring the Governor is vital to assuring the administration is held accountable for protecting clean air and water, our public health, and our natural resources.


To view report cards prior to 2019, please reference our Gubernatorial Report Cards, which compile all actions we’ve tracked and scored and provide overall grades for the Governor every two years.

The Big Picture

Review the most recent actions we've tracked and scored below.

7 Positive
  • Gov. Whitmer directs MDEQ to file request for rulemaking to establish PFAS drinking water standards
    Tuesday March 26th, 2019
    Governor Whitmer announced on Tuesday, March 26 that she was asking the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) -- temporarily created under Governor Snyder and re-established under Whitmer -- to create a Science Advisory Workgroup (SAW). The new science work group is tasked with reviewing the latest and best science to make a health based recommendation on safe PFAS levels by the 1st of July. Governor Whitmer also asked the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to immediately file a request for rulemaking to create an enforceable MCL for the state of Michigan. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Health and Safety Advisory for PFAS is 70 parts per trillion, but is not enforceable and does not reflect the most up to date science.  Increasingly, studies indicate the threshold necessary to protect human health and safety is likely 6-7 times lower than the federal health advisory. The Governor’s order calls for an accelerated rulemaking timeline with input from stakeholders and a draft rule targeted for completion by October 1, 2019. This action is particularly significant as the federal EPA continues to drag its feet in establishing a national standard.
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  • 2020 budget proposal: Taxing gas and renewing Michigan
    Tuesday March 5th, 2019
    On March 5, 2019, Governor Whitmer released her executive budget proposal. The total fiscal year 2020 executive budget is $60.2 billion, representing an increase of 3.7% from last year. The general fund budget proposal is $10.7 billion, an increase from $10.6 billion last year. The budget has four main priorities: roads, drinking water, skills and education. The highlight of the budget was $2.5 billion in new revenue generated by a 45 cent gas tax increase dedicated towards fixing roads, which would free up more than $500 million dollars in general fund monies currently earmarked for roads. Notably, the transportation funding plan for the majority of the new gas tax revenues would not follow the traditional PA 51 formula dedicating some 7% towards public transit. Instead, the money would be directed primarily towards major economic thoroughfares and ‘trunk lines’ with approximately 3% directed towards rail, ports and mobility for seniors and those with disabilities.   In addition to freeing up revenue from the general fund, the gas tax is a pro-environment policy in its own right. The relative increase in gas prices will decrease Michiganders’ vehicle miles traveled, gas use, and the air and water pollution from the mining and combustion of that gas.  Additionally, if implemented appropriately, the tax could give a boost to the burgeoning electric vehicle market.  Of course, moving away from fossil fuels in the transportation sector is a much needed step towards climate change mitigation. Governor Whitmer's budget continues former Governor Snyder’s lame duck Renew Michigan's Environment proposal created in fiscal year 2019. $45 million of this $69 million proposal is dedicated for environmental cleanup and redevelopment, $15 million (22%) for recycling programs, and $9 million (13%) for waste management programs. Finally, the budget also includes a large variety of positive environmental allocations for specific programs at the department level (the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Department of Health and Human Services), and a few negative shifts as well. But overall the budget’s proposal for new revenue from the taxing of gasoline, increased funding for clean water infrastructure, contaminated site cleanup, and the addressing emerging contaminants such as PFAS is a strong and definitive step forward for Michigan's environment.
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  • 2020 budget proposal: Clean water supplemental
    Tuesday March 5th, 2019
    On March 5, 2019, Governor Whitmer announced her proposed 2020 budget for the state of Michigan. Introduced with the Governor’s proposed budget was a 2019 supplemental allocation calling for $120 million in new funds to ensure Michigan drinking water is free from lead, PFAS and other as-yet-unknown emerging contaminants, and an additional $60 million to install hydration stations in Michigan. Of the $120 million, $37.5 million is dedicated towards Lead and Copper Rule implementation to make grants for lead service line replacements in vulnerable areas, technical help, and to support local community lead outreach and education efforts.  $30 million of the $120 million  is allocated to funding for cleanup activities, technology development, cleanup solutions and research and health studies to inform water standards, and $40 million for the Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF) Loan Forgiveness. Currently, many communities with water challenges have outstanding DWRF loans and are financially unable to borrow more - this prevents much-needed infrastructure improvements. The School Hydration Initiative dedicates $61.5 million in one-time school aid funding to provide at least 1 hydration station per every 100 pupils per school building for clean, filtered drinking water. Finally, Governor Snyder’s 21st Century Task Force documented Michigan’s annual water infrastructure needs to be more than $800 million. This one-time, supplemental request will not fill this funding gap or solve our drinking water issues, but it is a meaningful start. The proposal targets key drinking water priorities, and buys lawmakers, stakeholders, and advocates more time to find a comprehensive and sustainable water infrastructure funding solutions.    
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  • Appointment to the Michigan Public Service Commission
    Friday February 8th, 2019
    On February 8, 2019, Governor Whitmer appointed former state representative Dan Scripps to the Michigan Public Service Commision, the Michigan agency primarily responsible for regulating public utilities like Consumers Energy and DTE Energy. Scripps is a clean energy expert and has significant public and private experience in the energy sector. After graduating with a law degree from University of Michigan, Scripps went to work for Latham & Watkins LLP, a DC-based law firm with a focus on clean energy regulation and climate change mitigation. Scripps served as a State representative in Michigan’s 104th state house district (Leelenau, Benzie, Manistee) where he supported clean energy and conservation policies. Scripps also served as the President of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council from 2012-2017, an organization for clean energy business advocating, and most recently as the Midwest Policy Program Director for the Energy Foundation. Scripps comes to the appointment with a wealth of knowledge on our energy industry and is well suited to equitably evaluate clean and efficient energy policies on behalf of Michiganders and ratepayers.    
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  • Establishing the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; creating the Office of Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Clean Water Public Advocate
    Monday February 4th, 2019
    On February 4, 2019, Governor Whitmer released Executive Order 2019-2 rebranding and refocusing the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The move signals a much-needed cultural shift in tone and approach -- improving staff morale, increasing accountability, transparency and refocusing the Department on protecting human health and the environment.  The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (DEGLE) will become official on Earth Day, April 22, 2019. In addition to the Department’s amended brand, new offices, processes, duties and responsibilities were created.  The Offices of the Clean Water Public Advocate, Climate & Energy, Great Lakes, and Environmental Justice were created within DEGLE; additionally, a critical-issue staff reporting system was built into the bureaucracy for employees to elevate the most pressing concerns directly to the Governor's Office.   Executive Order 2019-2 also called for the elimination of the three controversial “Fox in the Henhouse” oversight committees that ceded rule and permit decision making power of the DEQ to committees of Snyder appointees -- many from the very industries and entities the DEQ is required to regulate.  The committees to be abolished include the Environmental Science Advisory Board, Environmental Rules Review Committee and Environmental Permit Review Commission.  However, the legislature rejected this Executive Order forcing it to be reissued with two of the three panels still intact in Executive Order 2019-6.
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  • Appointments to MDEQ, MDNR and MDARD
    Tuesday January 15th, 2019
    On Jan. 15, 2019, Governor Whitmer released her appointments for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (MDARD). To head up the MDEQ, Whitmer appointed Liesl Eichler Clark, a former co-founder and partner of 5 Lakes Energy, a clean energy policy firm. Clark also previously served as the President of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. Director Clark, a Howell resident, has also served as president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and as deputy director for energy programs at the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth.   To lead the MDNR, Whitmer tapped former Michigan United Conservation Clubs Executive Director Daniel Eichinger, who also served as former Lieutenant Governor John Cherry’s policy advisor during former Governor Granholm's administration. Eichinger is a previous employee of the MDNR, serving as legislative liaison as well as assistant to the chief of the wildlife division. Whitmer named Gary McDowell to head of MDARD. McDowell is a farmer and lifelong resident of Rudyard, MI, where he represented District 107 in Michigan’s state house of representatives for six years and served as the vice chair of the agricultural subcommittee. Taken together, the three appointments represent a notable change in Governor Whitmer’s approach to these departments from past administrations. In contrast to the business background of past Snyder appointees -- Governor Whitmer has signaled her commitment to Michigan's environment by choosing leaders with experience working in conservation and state government. Between Clark’s history as a clean energy advocate, Eichinger’s past conservation focus and McDowell’s pro-environment record in our State House, the backgrounds of all three appointees represent a turn towards protecting the environment we all share.
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  • Enbridge Line 5 - Request to the Attorney General for Legal Review & Department Cease Activity Directive
    Wednesday January 2nd, 2019
    As one of her first acts in office, Governor Whitmer asked Attorney General Dana Nessel to conduct a legal review of whether the lame duck legislative approval of a proposed new Enbridge Line 5 tunnel is in compliance with state law.   The legislation in question (Public Act 359) was rushed through the legislature during an aggressively anti-environmental lame duck period. It created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and endowed it with the authority to approve and oversee the implementation of a tunnel to replace the existing pipeline.  On Dec. 19, 2018 with little deliberation the newly created Authority immediately gave its approval for the tunnel. Governor Whitmer’s request to Attorney General Nessel asked important legal questions including: Was the new law written and enacted correctly, or did it violate of the Michigan’s Constitution? Has the Corridor Authority acted with more power than specifically enacted in PA 359?  Attorney General Nessel then offered her official opinion dubbing the statute unconstitutional along with the newly created Mackinac Corridor Authority therein.  On Friday, March 29th 2019 with the Attorney General's opinion rendered, Governor Whitmer halted all State of Michigan department activity related to the construction of the Enbridge Line 5 tunnel. Enbridge is still able to apply for a regular permit for building through Michigan’s standard permitting process, but they have yet to announce any new requests. While Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order to halt all construction on the proposed tunnel does not apply to the Line 5 pipeline itself, this is a positive step in that direction.  The 65+ year old Line 5 is years beyond its engineered lifetime and represents an existential threat to the straits and Lakes Michigan and Huron. It also transports oil and gas that environmentally damages the land where it is exploited, the air and water after it is combusted, and contributes climate-harming carbon to the atmosphere.
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