Political Week in Review: After 101 Days in Office, How Green is Your Governor

A weekly update on environmental policy happenings from Ryan Werder, Political Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Twitter: @rjwerder)

It’s said that the first 100 days of an administration are its most productive and important. So how is Governor Snyder doing so far? Undoubtedly, these past 101 days were nothing if not eventful. For that matter, the past seven days were pretty busy, too.

But that’s what the Political Week in Review is for. In this week’s PWIR:

  • A review of “How Green is Your Governor?” on the 101st day of the Administration
  • The breakdown of the anti-EPA votes in Congress and how your Senators voted. (Spoiler: Not as well as you’d think)
  • More budget consequences: 23 Michigan campgrounds set to close
  • Another reason for chemical disclosures: New study links PCBs to infertility

How Green is Your Governor on Day 101

Right now, the tally stands at seven positive marks, five neutral marks, and three negative marks.

Keep in mind, though, that there are many pieces of dangerous legislation that are still making their way to Governor Snyder’s desk for his decision to sign or veto; decisions that may make for some potential red marks if he signs them. The budget, with the Governor’s proposed 15% cut to environmental protections, is a perfect example.

Please also note that Michigan LCV’s “How Green is Your Governor?” tool is only for environmental actions taken by the Executive Branch. It does not evaluate any other possibly controversial actions or statements made by the Governor in other issue areas.

All that in mind, the first 101 days of the Snyder Administration show a relatively balanced approach to Michigan’s environment. There were some strongly negative decisions, like the decision to issue a permit for a coal plant expansion in Holland. But, on the other hand, Governor Snyder’s decision to urge the legislature to approve $102 million for conservationand $25 million for continuing the Pure Michigan campaign from his State of the State until their successful passage was a real benefit to the state.

Clearly, these first 101 days are only the beginning. We will continue to scrutinize every action the Governor takes — the good, the bad, and the neutral — for the remaining 1,359 days he is in office. And then we’ll start all over again…

Good and bad news on the anti-EPA amendments in Congress

In Congress, the short story is that a concerted attack against the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases that are hazardous to public health failed to pass in the US Senate, but did pass in the House.

On the House side of things, the Upton Bill sailed through easily. This bill was authored and championed by Michigan’s own Representative from the 6th District and the Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton. It throws out a key scientific finding in order to permanently ban the EPA’s ability to protect public health from greenhouse gases.

Thankfully, in the Senate, the amendment that was the carbon copy of the Upton Bill failed to gain the 60 votes necessary to pass. The other proposed amendments, all with Democratic sponsors, failed overwhelmingly. And so, with both chambers failing to pass the same bill, the echo of our sixth grade social studies teacher reminds us that the bill can proceed no further at this time.

Despite the victory in the Senate, though, Michigan Senators Levin and Stabenow did each cast a vote for delaying the EPA’s authority to carry out their duties of protecting public health from dangerous emissions. More importantly, because these anti-EPA votes from our Senators are now on the record, we are collectively weaker going into the next round of the fight to protect the EPA.

For a detailed breakdown on each of the amendments, and how both Senators Levin and Stabenow voted on all of them, check out our blog post with a handy table and explanations. Please also check out thejoint statement on the results of the votes from the National LCV President Gene Karpinski and our own Executive Director, Lisa Wozniak.

DNR to shut down 23 campgrounds

This past week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gave word that twenty-three campgrounds across the state would be closed due to an inability to properly fund them. The press release from the DNR itself notes the cause for this decision in the very first sentence: “…the state’s Forest Recreation Program has seen a 63-percent decrease in funding in the last three years…”

More losses to Michigan’s outdoor recreation like this one can, sadly, be expected to be the norm with the continuing cuts to our state’s natural resources budgets. Another slice of 15% from the DNR budget is currently anticipated under the Governor’s budget proposal.

If you would like to pass along your comments directly to the DNR on the subject of these closings, they have set up a dedicated email address.

Another reminder why toxins must be disclosed to the public

A new study reported this week that PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) — the same class of chemicals that was largely banned back in 1979 and are still plaguing places like St. Claire Shores to this day — also causes infertility. The fact that these neurotoxins are still creating enormous public health problems even 40 years after Congress broadly ended their use, is yet another reminder why disclosing other hidden toxins still commonly found in our childrens’ toys and products is crucial.

To take action on behalf of the Children’s Safe Product Act in Michigan, please click here to send a thank you to the Senate leaders on this legislation and to ask them to quickly introduce the bill in the State Senate.

Until next week,

Ryan Werder, Political Director

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