Here in the Great Lakes state, water has always been a source of pride. While many political issues prove divisive, one thing Michiganders can all agree on is that protecting our Great Lakes and ensuring everyone has access to clean drinking water should be important priorities for our elected officials.
Unfortunately, Republicans have had total control of our state government for nearly a decade, and they have consistently undermined the laws and agencies responsible for protecting our water. It is worth noting many Republicans have close relationships with corporate polluters who bankroll their campaigns, and they have chosen at every turn to preserve those connections instead of holding polluters accountable and protecting their constituents. In fact Governor Snyder recently signed into law a “polluters panel” to oversee and override the MDEQ.
In recent weeks, journalists uncovered and released reports of PFAS contamination in water sources across Michigan–reports experts gave to the Snyder administration in 2012. Despite knowing of dangerous contamination 6 years ago, they chose not to act.
Now, sites across Michigan are polluted and folks in Kalamazoo County have been told not to drink their water. Since this information became public, Republicans like Bill Schuette have called for action–but don’t let these attempts at damage control fool you. If our Republican elected officials really cared about public safety, they would have taken action as soon as they knew.
PFAS contamination, which comes with a range of health risk from low infant birth weight to cancer, is only the most recent development in an ongoing pattern of Republicans choosing corporate polluters over public health. Republicans in office have also been unresponsive to concerns that Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline is putting Michiganders’ lives in danger. Recent research shows just how devastating a spill on Line 5 could be, but our elected officials would rather pander to Enbridge and their lobbyists than act to protect public health.
Republicans’ failure to prioritize clean water is also reflected in the ongoing crisis in Flint. As folks in Flint were unable to drink their water, the Republicans in control of our state government held the power to help them, but instead of taking decisive action to clean up Flint’s water, the administration of Governor Rick Snyder stuck to small gestures like bottled water deliveries–which, by the way, were discontinued early this year. Meanwhile, as Michiganders in Flint and elsewhere went without clean water, Snyder allowed Nestle to take our water for pennies and earn billions.
So, the next time you hear a Republican like Bill Schuette claim to value our Great Lakes or our public health, remember this party’s record on water. While in power, they’ve done far more harm than good, and they give us no reason to believe that will change anytime soon.