LANSING — State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) held a press conference alongside House Democratic colleagues and statewide stakeholders introducing legislation to restore the state’s ability to address the many public health and environment crises Michigan families are facing. Pohutsky’s House Bill 4386 would repeal the so called “no stricter than federal” law, passed in the final few days of lame duck during the 2017-18 term, which prohibits state agencies from issuing rules or guidelines more stringent than the relevant federal standard.
“Michigan families are not interested in waiting for bureaucrats in Washington to make decisions — especially when communities throughout our state can’t even trust that the water coming from their faucets is safe,” said Pohutsky. “Michigan is facing unique challenges that cannot be solved by ‘one-size-fits-all’ federal policies. No one knows the Great Lakes state better than the people that live and work here; we need to have the authority to decide for ourselves what must be done to keep our communities safe.”
Despite strong bipartisan opposition from residents, lawmakers, and over 80 employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the “no stricter than federal” law was signed by Gov. Snyder during his final hours in office. Pohutsky’s bill would put the power back in the hands of the people of Michigan.
“Treating Michigan like any other state ignores the unique challenges we face and prevents us from tackling our most serious environmental threats,” said state Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio). “Michigan communities are already working on the ground to prevent further chemical contamination. It is up to us to ensure they have the regulations and tools they need. These are Michigan families, they deserve Michigan solutions.”
“We cannot protect the Great Lakes and our other water resources while relying on federal minimums,” said Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action. “Michigan needs the regulatory flexibility to be as protective of our water resources as necessary. Recent water crises from the Flint water crisis to issues with PFAS and other contaminants that have been increasing across the state show that we must do more to protect our water, not less.”
While the “no stricter than federal” law stands to have serious detrimental effects on the environment, its vague language would also prohibit the state from establishing rules around health care, campaign finance, LGBT rights, sustainable agriculture, education, women’s reproductive rights and much more.
“When the original bill was moving through the Legislature, I don’t believe its supporters really understood the tremendous impact it would have,” said Thomas Gilpin of the Sierra Club. “Federal standards are meant to be the foundation upon which we build, not the ceiling. Repealing this law must be our first step toward protecting the natural resources that shape our identity and our economy.”