There has been a lot of talk about water. In Michigan, we’re surrounded by it, we’re reliant on it, and we’re fiercely defensive of it. However, there has been a wide gap between the wishes of residents and the priorities of our chosen legislators. For all of the former governor Rick Snyder’s term, which was punctuated with the fiasco of the Flint Water Crisis, the issue of protecting water fell behind the priority of protecting the officials who failed the people of Flint and, as a result, failed all of us.
Just over a month into her first term, Governor Whitmer has taken a big step in righting those wrongs. While partisan politics already beginning to replace the early bonhomie that started the new session Congress, Whitmer announced the signing of a new executive order this past week. The order creates the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, or the EGLE, and will cover issues like clean drinking water, protecting the Great Lakes, and working with other agencies to address climate change.
Announcing to the quiet rumblings of Republicans, and Whitmer sided a lack of cooperation in Congress for the reason of pushing through the Department’s creation through executive order. It’s a snapshot of our state and local politics that something as simple, clear cut, and important as clean water can be a divisive partisan issue. No legislator on either side of the aisle would ever admit to their constituents that clean water didn’t matter, but they’ll happily delay talks and votes that deal with these issues if it means they don’t have to put their name on the wrong side of history.
Clean water, PFAs, and the stewardship of our Great Lakes are luxuries. They’re vital issues that impact our health, our economy, and will have a huge impact on water supplies for tens of millions of people in the decades to come. Water is a hot button topic that is only one aspect of our environmental safety; addressing its preservation is just one battle in a war to protect all of our resources and natural spaces.
Finally, remember that we are a part of the environment. Protecting it protects our families and friends, ensures access to healthy and non-contaminated foods and drinking water, and shouldn’t just be a priority, it should be a fixture of all legislation at every level of government.
Kudos to Governor Whitmer for point our state government in the right direction. Now, we all need to get on board and support these measures with action.
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