Three Things Thursday: August 18, 2022
Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the August 18, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday! This week includes a look at our wonderful event at Cherry Republic yesterday with Attorney General Nessel; threats to our drinking water and Great Lakes and Michigan LCV’s work to address them; and our most recent round of 2022 legislative endorsements.
1. Fundraiser in Glen Arbor for Attorney General Nessel
Yesterday evening, Bob Sutherland hosted a wonderful event at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor for Michigan LCV and special guest Attorney General Dana Nessel as she seeks re-election this year!
Wednesday’s fundraiser for Michigan LCV PAC was hosted by Cherry Republic founder Bob Sutherland (middle) and his team, including Sarah Harding (left) (Credit: Matt Zubik/Cherry Republic).
Bob, the founder and CEO of Cherry Republic, is a Michigan LCV board member and was an incredibly gracious host as more than a hundred people gathered late yesterday afternoon in the Cherry Republic (Glen Arbor) beer garden. In building the Cherry Republic brand over the years, which includes a deep commitment to the protection of our Great Lakes and tackling the climate crisis, Bob has been a consistent and generous philanthropist, specifically giving to organizations like Michigan LCV and leaders like Attorney General Nessel who fearlessly take on big polluters and corporations like Enbridge Energy who pose a dire threat to the health and safety of our world class waterways.
Attorney General Nessel spoke about her time in office working to crack down on corporate polluters and protect our Great Lakes from the threat of Line 5 (Credit: Matt Zubik/Cherry Republic).
As the threats to our water, health, Great Lakes, and democracy have become more widespread, it has become clear that Michigan must have an attorney general who is willing to hold radical political actors and corporate polluters accountable. In her first term in office, Attorney General Nessel has proven that she is willing to go the extra mile to do just that. She is suing multiple corporate polluters responsible for widespread toxic PFAS contamination; she has taken on our two monopoly energy utilities in rate fights and to push them on climate action; and she won a multi-state lawsuit to thwart Trump’s “Dirty Power Rule,” and she legally blocked other climate rollbacks attempted by the former occupant of the White House.
(Credit: Matt Zubik/Cherry Republic)
There were a number of stand out moments during the event yesterday. One of them, for me, was when the Attorney General Nessel praised Michigan LCV’s leadership in the fight to shut down Line 5, our work to engage and mobilize voters, our determination to make a difference on the issues that matter most to Michiganders, and our hard-hitting, strategic campaigns to get strong leaders elected to office.
Wednesday’s event ended with a huge group photo featuring (most of) the people who came to support Michigan LCV and Attorney General Nessel! (Credit: Matt Zubik/Cherry Republic).
We will be rolling out our formal Michigan LCV endorsement of Nessel’s re-election in the days ahead. Stay tuned!
2. Growing threats to our drinking water in Michigan
In recent weeks, we have seen numerous, serious threats to our water both in the form of chemical and oil spills in rivers and the collapse of aging infrastructure, resulting in the contamination of drinking water provided to hundreds of thousands of Michigan homes. Given our deep commitment to protecting and preserving Michigan’s bountiful freshwater resources, the Michigan LCV team has been “all hands on deck” tracking the latest developments and communicating to our members and the broader public in a timely manner.
When news broke in early August that Tribar Manufacturing spilled thousands of gallons of the toxic chemical hexavalent chromium into the Huron River near Wixom, we feared the worst. Hexavalent chromium is a nasty chemical known to cause serious problems for human health (think “Erin Brokovich”), and such a quantity in one of Michigan’s major rivers could have spelled disaster for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who rely on the Huron for drinking water (notably those who live in the City of Ann Arbor) and recreation. Luckily, Michigan health officials reported late last week that the Huron River is once again safe for human contact and that while initial reports indicated thousands of pounds of hexavalent chromium had entered the river, investigators concluded that only about 20 pounds of the chemical made its way downstream. For more information on what this means for Ann Arbor’s drinking water, please check out the Huron River Watershed Council website.
As for the state of the Wixom wastewater treatment plant (which appears to have caught the majority of the contaminant), it’s in bad shape and will need major investment to bring it back to full functionality. And, as for the polluter, Tribar? Thus far, Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) issued violations notices for Tribar and the Ann Arbor City Council authorized a lawsuit against the company over the incident.
If hexavalent chromium in our water wasn’t enough, the Detroit News reported last weekend that a 55-gallon oil drum overturned in the Rouge River near Wayne, MI. How the drum was left to float in the river is unfathomable, but the spill resulted in an oil sheen that was reported to authorities who then used booms to contain the contamination. While 55 gallons of oil is a drop in the bucket compared to the disaster that a Line 5 oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would be, the Rouge River spill is yet another example of the danger oil poses to Michigan’s waterways, and to our economy. The Straits of Mackinac is one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the United States, a place where water currents exceed those of Niagara Falls. If Line 5 were to rupture, more than 700 miles of Great Lakes coastline would be impacted, along with marine life and Michigan’s economy – specially Northern Michigan’s economy – that relies on the tourism, fishing, and hospitality industries. On the flip side, if Line 5 were to be decommissioned, Michigan would see a negligible increase in gas prices, which is something that Enbridge Energy does not want you to know.
As if to add insult to injury, last Sunday, a water main break in Port Huron resulted in a “boil water” advisory for 23 communities and more than 930,000 Michiganders in the Metro Detroit area. Following the water main break, Gov. Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Lapeer, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair counties to help coordinate the state’s response and protect the health of impacted residents. While the initial scope was narrowed by the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), the responsible entity, from 935,000 residents impacted to 133,000 and from 23 communities to just seven, the “boil water” advisory was extended Tuesday by an additional week due to the time it will take to make repairs to the system.
The following communities will be under the advisory for a total of three weeks:
- Bruce Township
- Burtchville Township
- Imlay City
- Shelby Township
- Washington Township
These incidents, alone, underscore the importance of (1) doubling down on the investments in our water infrastructure (which will be happening in the near future given the bipartisan agreement known “Building Michigan Together Plan’ signed into law by Governor Whitmer earlier this year) and (2) holding corporate polluters accountable, not only to ensure polluters pay for the cost of clean up, but to prevent future accidents that threaten our water, our health and our livelihood. While the former is underway, we have a long way to go on the latter.
Tribar Manufacturing, as an example, is the same company responsible for PFAS contamination in the Huron River detected in 2018, which resulted in a “do not eat” advisory for fish caught in the Huron River and connected streams, lakes and ponds. Since that incident, little to nothing has been done to ensure the company does not continue to pollute our water, and they certainly have not been held financially responsible.
In the wake of these recent incidents, House Democrats held a press conference yesterday on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing to stress the importance of holding polluters accountable and calling on their colleagues in the legislature to pass Polluter Pay legislation before the end of the 2022 legislative session. As a reminder, Michigan used to have some of the strongest Polluter Pay laws in the country, laws that were gutted under Gov. John Engler. New, strict Polluter Pay laws would ensure that corporate polluters, like Tribar Manufacturing, bear the responsibility and economic cost of clean up.
In response to the press conference, Michigan LCV swiftly issued a press statement, which you can read here.
As our State Government Affairs Director Nick Occhipinti said in the statement, strict Polluter Pay laws in Michigan long overdue:
It’s long past time that we hold those that pollute our water financially responsible for cleaning up the messes they make. It should be big polluters, not taxpayers, who foot the bill for cleaning up contamination. This is a litmus test for all Lansing lawmakers that reflect whose side you’re on – pass Polluter Pay legislation.”
As the threats to our water here in Michigan persist, it’s clear that we must take action – in Lansing and through grassroots efforts – to ensure clean, safe, accessible water to drink and recreate for Michiganders across our state. Please know that the Michigan LCV team is all hands on deck!
3. Michigan LCV’s first post-primary legislative endorsements
On Tuesday, the Michigan LCV team unveiled our first post-primary legislative endorsements. You can read our press release here.
- Joey Andrews: HD 38 (D – St. Joseph)
- Betsy Coffia: HD 103 (D – Traverse City)
- Maurice Imhoff: HD 46 (D – Jackson)
- Shadia Martini: HD 54 (D – Bloomfield Hills)
- Patricia Bernard: HD 55 (D – Rochester Hills)
- Sharon MacDonell: HD 56 (D – Troy)
- John Fitzgerald: HD 83 (D – Wyoming)
- Sue Shink: SD 14 (D – Ann Arbor)
All of our endorsed candidates in round three demonstrate a strong commitment to protecting the health of Michigan’s communities and democracy, which includes, but is not limited to: cleaning up toxic contamination in water, addressing the climate crisis, protecting our natural resources, tackling inequities in communities disproportionately affected by air quality issues and access to clean water, and supporting policies that ensure fair and equal access to the ballot.
This is a pivotal election year that will set the political landscape in Michigan for the next several years and dictate our ability to, among other things: protect and ensure clean, safe drinking water is accessible for all Michiganders; facilitate meaningful climate action at the state level to go hand in hand with the climate provisions spelled out in the Inflation Reduction Act; and protect and expand voting rights and options in our state to ensure a fair and accessible democracy in which all Michiganders can make their voices heard.
We will be rolling out more endorsements next week. Stay tuned!
For a full list of Michigan LCV’s endorsed candidates, please visit our 2022 Endorsements webpage.
As I say every week, thank you so much for your belief in our work. None of this would be possible without you!