Protect the Great Lakes
From Lake Michigan to Lake Superior, Michiganders care deeply about the Great Lakes. We should be able to swim at Sleeping Bear Dunes and bring our children to Sand Point Beach without worrying about beach closings or getting sick from elevated bacteria levels. But in the last decade, polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions put more than half of Michigan's streams at risk—the same waterways that feed and filter the Great Lakes.
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.
Tell your leaders that you want to see the Great Lakes, and all of Michigan's waters, protected.
- More than half of Michigan’s streams and hundreds of acres of wetlands have been vulnerable to pollution and development.
- In recent years, 24 billion gallons of untreated sewage have flowed into the Great Lakes annually, damaging the Lakes’ ecosystems.
- Elevated bacteria levels prompt hundreds of Michigan beaches to close every year.
- Recently, the U.S. Senate introduced a bill that would prevent the president from protecting our waterways—forever.
- Thousands of Michigan residents have already joined our call to protect the Great Lakes.