Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the July 22, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday! This week’s Three Things includes a look at important PFAS legislation moving in Congress, an update on Michigan LCV’s ongoing Champion Walks, and the Biden administration’s recent approval of emergency funding to address flooding in Metro Detroit.
1. The PFAS Action Act of 2021
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the PFAS Action Act of 2021 (241-183), legislation introduced by Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) in an effort to address the growing PFAS crisis in Michigan and across the country.
The bipartisan legislation — with key sponsors Dingell and Upton (MI-6) and critically important leadership by the chair of the Bipartisan PFAS Task Force, Congressman Kildee — will set much-needed PFAS standards for drinking water within the next two years, helping to protect communities that have been impacted by toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water and on public and private land. The legislation now moves to the US Senate where we are strongly advocating for another bipartisan vote of support. The battle in the Senate will, unfortunately, be much harder, so it’s all hands-on-deck.
Michigan has been dealing with toxic PFAS contamination for years, with communities such as Oscoda and Belmont experiencing contaminated drinking water that has led to an array of severe health impacts.
Earlier today, I participated in a press conference spearheaded by Congressman Kildee and joined by six (6) other members of our congressional delegation — Dingell, Upton, Huizenga (MI-2), Meijer (MI-3), Slotkin (MI-8), and Levin (MI-9) — as well as Tony Spaniola and Sandy Wynn-Stelt, two outstanding impacted citizens who recently helped launch the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network (GLPAN).
When each member of the Congressional delegation spoke, they credited residents in their respective districts for raising the flag and calling attention to this dangerous, pervasive and growing contamination issue. Tony and Sandy each shared their personal stories, which include an array of sick neighbors and family members and, in Sandy’s case, the loss of her husband and her own battle with thyroid cancer.
Sandy also made sure to note that the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, a coalition of impacted residents from all across Michigan, has only just begun their work to link arms across the region to ensure many more steps of meaningful action are taken at the state and federal levels to protect human health and the environment.
As the PFAS crisis has grown and spread into more and more communities across Michigan and the rest of the country in recent years, action to address these toxic “forever chemicals” has never been more important. It was an honor to be a part of today’s press event, while simultaneously rolling up my sleeves to do more. If you are interested, you can watch today’s press conference in its entirety here.
2. Champion Walks update
This month marked the kickoff of Michigan LCV’s first “Champion Summer of Action,” a series of door-to-door canvassing walks with dedicated “green champions” in the state legislature.
Our “Champion Walks,” which are taking place in legislative districts all across the state, focus on the issues that matter most to lawmakers’ constituents: clean air, safe drinking water, and meaningful action on climate change, so much of which is intimately tied to much-needed infrastructure investments.
Some of our Michigan LCV teammates at a Champion Walk with Rep. Nate Shannon (Rep. Shannon is the tall guy in green in the middle. You can find our teammate in MLCV dark blue “Our Water” t-shirts. From left to right: Bob Allison, Clare Allenson, Vicki Speer, Reese Shasteen, Ethan Petzold, and Londell Thomas)
Meeting people on their door steps and talking about things that matter most to them is key to helping elected leaders do their very best, whether in Lansing or Washington, D.C. We are proud to help Rep. Shannon and many others do what they do even better as we listen to their constituents concerns and provide information about what’s happening within the halls of Lansing.
For new members of the Michigan LCV team, these walks are the first time they have gone door-to-door and talked to voters about the issues that Michigan LCV and our elected “green champions” are working on everyday. You better bet that our Political & Outreach team provided top-notch training and support, preparing the members of our team and making sure each and every on of them is comfortable and confident in their ability to accomplish the task at hand.
Our Champion Walks will continue through the remainder of July and into August, so be on the lookout for more photos and video content of our team out in the field. You never know, maybe you’ll even get a knock on your own door from a Michigan LCV team member!
3. Biden approval of emergency funding for Wayne & Washtenaw Counties
After several severe storms caused catastrophic flooding in and around Detroit over the past several weeks, the Biden administration last week granted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for emergency disaster relief funding.
Many of you may have experienced this flooding first hand — I’m so sorry! As I noted in my July 1 Three Things, I personally experienced the chaos that ensued when Metro Detroit was hit with almost seven inches of rain in 24 hours on June 25th and 26th. I drove into the city and was met with submerged cars, roads, and highways, my heart breaking all along the way for the thousands of people whose homes and lives were devastated by the extreme weather. (You can read a full account of my experience in the July 1, 2021 edition of Three Things.)
The Biden administration’s declaration of a major disaster means that $180 million in federal disaster relief funding will be made available to impacted individuals and families in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties as people continue to recover from flood waters that exceeded 18 feet of standing water in some areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will also deploy aid workers in our state to help facilitate how the aid and funding is provided to the more than 68,000 people who have signed up for assistance.
While the disaster relief funding is an extremely important step forward in helping entire communities in Detroit and Dearborn recover, we must recognize that the floods that ruined homes and businesses are yet another sign of the accelerating effects of the climate crisis. Indeed, this extreme weather, which we are experiencing more and more frequently, illustrates the importance of immediate action to invest in our infrastructure and address climate change.
As climate and infrastructure legislation continues to move ever-so- slowly in Washington, D.C., it is imperative that we support our Congressional delegation in voting the right way and ensuring that climate action is at the forefront of any infrastructure bill that gets passed.
The Michigan LCV team maintains a keen focus on facilitating climate action on the state and federal levels, tracking any and all developments as Congress debates the contents of infrastructure packages in Washington. For a detailed rundown of the latest developments in our nation’s capital and what it means for Michigan, I urge you to check out this week’s edition of the Washington Weekly, our federal-focused newsletter that comes out every Wednesday.
Finally, if you would like to show your support for immediate and meaningful action, you can sign up here to receive a FREE “Climate Action Now!” sign to display in your front yard or business window!
As always, thank you for all you do to support our work. Until next week, be well and mask up as needed.