Panel delays Michigan PFAS standards

    Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

    An oversight board stacked with appointees from GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder this week voted to halt the implementation of tougher PFAS standards in Michigan.

    The Environmental Rules Review Committee that includes business and industry representatives met Thursday and decided to table the discussion until Nov. 14 on standards for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances put forth by current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) had advanced the new tougher rules for PFAS, otherwise known as “forever chemicals.”

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    Michigan has the highest number of PFAS sites in the nation, although that is likely, in part, due to aggressive testing. A statewide study released this summer found that 10% of Michigan drinking water systems contain PFAS, which are found in everything from nonstick pans to firefighting foam.

    Environmentalists have criticized the board as a “polluter panel” and blasted its decision.

    “As we predicted when this legislation passed in 2018, a review panel stacked with industry representatives with conflicts of interest has needlessly delayed critical public health protections for our drinking water,” said Charlotte Jameson of the Michigan Environmental Council. “Michigan is facing a public health crisis in the form of drinking water contaminated by highly toxic PFAS and Michiganders are calling out for stronger protections for their health and well being. Unfortunately a panel filled largely with unelected industry representatives voted to kick the can down the road, effectively holding these critical protections hostage.”

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    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.