Sunday, April 15, 2018

On water issues, Michigan sides with businesses

Michigan, with a land mass almost entirely within the Great Lakes basin,
Map of the United States with Michigan highlighted
has a rich state and regional history of executive branch leadership on water issues.

In fact, Michigan Republican Gov. John Engler vetoed a Waukesha-style diversion of Lake Michigan water for Lowell, Indiana - - under a set of rules no longer in force - - because he thought the diversion would set a harmful precedent.

That stewardship is hard to see from this side of Lake Michigan today:

*  Michigan has just ended the provision of bottled water to residents in the predominately low-income and minority City of Flint.
Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver, said she was informed of the decision only moments before it was made public.
*  But Michigan is allowing Nestle's to increase its withdrawal of spring water to 400 gallons per minute from 250 for bottling under the geographically-challenged "Ice Mountain" label- - for which it pays only a $200 paperwork fee, no per-gallon charge or taxes.

More at this new documentary, here.
Some residents near the Michigan bottling plant worry about their water source being depleted -- not to mention all the plastic bottles being produced.
The documentary also highlights the town of Waukesha, Wisc. It sits outside the Great Lakes watershed, but was granted permission to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan. A similar debate surrounds a giant electronics factory planned in another part of Wisconsin, so that issue is not going away. 
The documentary poses some big questions: "Who’s watching over Great Lakes water? Are the laws strong enough to protect the region’s drinking water supply? Should global corporations have the right to use Great Lakes water to make big profits?" 
*  Michigan has also granted three of four permits needed for the operation of a controversial, potentially-polluting sulfide ore mine for Aquila Resources on the Michigan-Wisconsin Upper Peninsula border very close to the Menominee River. 

Opposition to the mine is led by Native Americans - - so, again, Michigan finds itself aligned against its minority citizens but favoring major corporations which want more control over water.

These matters do not take place in a vacuum.

Pro-industry Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had Tea Party support; remember that Wisconsin Gov. and failed water steward Scott Walker claimed to have been "the original Tea Party in Wisconsin" when it was politically-advantageous to tout that history.

So this is what you get when you put corporatist, Tea Party politicians in charge of overseeing shared, life-and-death resources:

Backers of a new Wisconsin law to allow the same kind of mining in Wisconsin which Michigan is close to green-lighting say the same mining company could open the same kind of operations here.
[Hazelhurst GOP State Sen. Tom] Tiffany has previously said he believes there are exploration companies prepared to start work in Wisconsin if the bill becomes law. He said he expects Canadian companies Highland Copper Company and Aquila Resources would have an interest in the state's mineral deposits.

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