Read the full article by the MLive Group Media Editorial Board
“The following reflects the opinion of the MLive Media Group Editorial Board.
Gov. Rick Snyder frequently touts Michigan as a national leader in responding to the rapidly emerging problem of PFAS contamination.
In some ways, he is correct. Michigan has been proactive in requiring testing of public utilities to find the persistent per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. He created the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team to explore the issue and help agencies coordinate.
While significant, it is not enough.
We need our state leaders to take decisive action to protect Michigan’s drinking water by setting a legally enforceable limit on these chemicals under the state Safe Drinking Water Act.
Despite widespread knowledge of the PFAS problem in Michigan, Snyder, House Speaker Tom Leonard and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof are failing the state’s citizens when it comes to protecting our drinking water…
Snyder, Leonard and Meekof have all but sat on their hands when it comes to setting a state standard that would keep this industrial poison from reaching our taps.
Snyder’s administration says it wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take the lead on setting a PFAS drinking water standard. We agree that this would be the best-case scenario.
However, the EPA has not set a new drinking water standard in 22 years and doesn’t appear to be moving with a sense of urgency on PFAS, either.
New Jersey, New Hampshire and California have all taken significant steps to protect their drinking water in the face of the EPA’s inaction.
State Rep. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, introduced a bill last December that would set a limit of 5 parts per trillion for PFAS in drinking water.
The bill was all but ignored for 10 months — until state Rep. Gary Howell, R-Lapeer, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee in which Brinks’ legislation is languishing – told MLive’s Garret Ellison that he would call a hearing in November.
This is not a partisan issue. But the fact is, the leaders running our executive and legislative branches are all Republicans. Brinks is a Democrat.
The GOP has tried to cry foul that Democrats are using our water quality as a campaign issue prior to the Nov. 6 election.
But here’s the truth: It wouldn’t be a campaign issue if Snyder and his Republican colleagues in the Legislature would take strong action to protect our drinking water.
Snyder’s administration says it is waiting on a panel of scientific experts to study the issue. But their work is not expected to yield a recommendation. Meanwhile, we drink contaminated water.
If Michigan followed New Jersey’s lead and set a PFAS drinking water standard of 13 ppt, 11 municipal water systems could be in violation, including Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor and Grand Haven, depending on which of the thousands of PFAS compounds were found. Twenty-one systems exceed the 5 ppt threshold. State data show that nearly 1.9 million Michigan residents are served municipal water containing some level of PFAS.
The fact that there are thousands of compounds under the PFAS banner does pose a challenge and it illustrates why the chemicals need to be regulated as a class. It is not practical to deal with them individually from a regulatory standpoint.
Michigan has already set a standard for PFOS — one of the compounds in the PFAS family — for surface water such as our rivers and streams. This threshold is 12 ppt and it helps guide fish advisories.
It is not a stretch to expect this same threshold to be used to protect our drinking water.
Some may argue that 5 parts per trillion is too low and would cost our utilities too much money to clean up their drinking water to meet that standard. Perhaps. But it’s a start — movement in a place where Michigan has stalled.”