The Great Lakes at risk

In the last decade, polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions left more than half of Michigan's streams and hundreds of acres of wetlands vulnerable to pollution and development. And it’s not just small streams and wetlands that suffer—these waterways are the same ones that feed Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and the rest of the Great Lakes and help to keep them clean.

The Great Lakes are part of what makes life here so great. We should be able to swim, fish, boat or otherwise enjoy our waters, knowing that they are protected from toxic dumping and irresponsible development.

Polluters poke holes in Clean Water Act

For 40 years, the Clean Water Act has helped Michigan — and states across the nation — care for and clean up our waterways. Thanks in large part to this groundbreaking law, rivers are no longer so polluted that they catch fire, as Ohio’s Cuyahoga infamously did in 1969. Still, much work remains to be done. An estimated 24 billion gallons of untreated sewage have been flowing into the Great Lakes each year, causing more than 3,000 beach closings in 2009 alone. And in 2010 alone, nearly 2.2 million pounds of toxic pollution were dumped into Michigan's waterways. We need to do more to protect our waters—not less.

Unfortunately, over the past decade, polluters and irresponsible developers used the courts the put Clean Water Act protections in legal limbo, arguing that the law doesn't cover the smaller streams and wetlands that feed and clean Lake Huron, Lake Superior, and the rest of the Great Lakes. They tried to throw out nearly 40 years of Clean Water Act protection, leaving polluting industries free to dump into our streams and pave over our wetlands without asking for permission.

The biggest clean water victory in decades

Since 2006, we have been urging Congress to protect the Great Lakes by simply declaring that the Clean Water Act applies to all of Michigan's—and America’s—waters. But, stymied at every turn by industry lobbyists and powerful special interests, we turned instead to the Environmental Protection Agency for action.

Together with our allies across the country, we submitted more than 170,000 petitions to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to restore protections to all of our waters and cut sewage pollution. And in April of 2011, she announced a plan to do just that.

But polluters’ allies in Congress won’t give up—and now they’re threatening to stop the EPA from doing its job. At the same time, powerful corporate interests are preparing for battle: ExxonMobil threatened “legal warfare” if the EPA moves forward with its plan to restore Clean Water Act protections

Our plan to defend the Great Lakes

It is clear that if polluters win, the Great Lakes will be less protected. We know that we can’t compete with their lobbyists dollar for dollar. But the public is with us—and if we can prove that to our elected officials, we can win.

That's why we’re bringing together Michiganders from all walks of life to protect the Great Lakes. We all have a stake in keeping our water clean

Our citizen outreach staff has been knocking on doors across the state, educating Michiganders about what’s at stake. So far, we've joined with our sister organizations and allies to deliver more than 100,000 public comments in support of clean water.

If we’re going to push past ExxonMobil and other powerful polluters, we’re going to need everyone who cares about the Great Lakes to get involved. Join our campaign by urging our leaders to protect all our streams and wetlands here in Michigan and across the country.

Join our campaign by sending your legislators a message today.


Clean Water Updates

News Release | Environment Michigan

Clean Water Act Turns 40- Progress Made, More Needed

Today, October 18, 2012, marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a landmark environmental law. The Clean Water Act was enacted after years of citizen outrage about massive and persistent water pollution across the country. The EPA should restore Clean Water Act protections to all streams, set tough limits on pollution from factory farms and protect drinking water from drilling.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Michigan

Budget Threatens Michigan’s Public Health & Environment

A budget bill being pushed in Congress this week includes a number of measures that would threaten Michigan’s public health and environment, according to Environment Michigan. Under the bill, the Environmental Protection Agency would be barred from taking any action to clean up carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial pollution sources; and the EPA would be barred from restoring Clean Water Act protections for many of the nation’s most vulnerable waterways. 

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News Release | Environment Michigan

115 Waterways in Michigan are Contaminated by Mercury Pollution

115 waterways in Michigan have advisories for mercury pollution, according to the latest government data outlined in a new report from Environment Michigan. These advisories instruct citizens to limit their consumption of certain fish in Michigan waterways due to mercury contamination.

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News Release | Environment Michigan

Congressman Peters Standing Up for Michiganders' Health Within Federal Budget Debate

As negotiations around funding for the federal government continue into the weekend in Washington, D.C., Congressman Gary Peters is taking actions to ensure that the final bill does not include attacks on Michiganders’ public health and our environment. Congressman Peters signed onto a letter this week to House Speaker John Boehner, urging him not to allow any attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to clean up dangerous pollution.

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Report | Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center

Toxic Waterways

Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury pollution in the United States. Emissions from these plants eventually make their way into Michigan’s waterways, contaminating fish and wildlife.

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