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News from Multiple Organizations

October 26, 2023
Contact: Lynna Kaucheck,

Overwhelming Appetite for ‘Polluter Pay’ Bills in Michigan

More than 90 percent of Michigan voters support making corporations pay for cleaning up their messes

MICHIGAN – There are over 24,000 contaminated sites across the state of Michigan. From Marquette to Monroe, communities are suffering from the health and environmental impacts of legacy pollution. But there’s also a “hidden” cost these communities bear the brunt of: cleanup fees. For example, taxpayers in the city of Ann Arbor are doling out $900,000 a year to get PFAS out of their drinking water all because a corporate polluter is dumping these forever chemicals affecting the Huron River.

“Polluter Pay follows a basic premise: entities responsible for pollution should be responsible for paying the remediation costs,” said Sean McBrearty, legislative and policy director for Clean Water Action Michigan. “Michigan once had the strongest Polluter Pay law in the country. That’s until former Republican Gov. John Engler repealed it. No community in Michigan should have to foot the bill to cover for an irresponsible polluter.”

“With these cleanup costs ballooning, they’re proving to be an untenable burden for Michigan taxpayers,” said Bentley Johnson, federal government affairs director for Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “It’s time to make sure that those who ultimately caused contamination pay up – not working families.”

There is near-unanimous agreement among Michigan voters that Polluter Pay legislation is worth passing. Polling from the Lake Effect newsletter demonstrates this strong support: in May and August of 2023, by an overwhelming margin of 93 and 92 percent respectively, supported requiring corporations who cause contamination to pay to clean up their pollution rather than having taxpayers foot the bill.

Reinstating Polluter Pay legislation would not only create an incentive to avoid contamination, but also address the massive remediation backlog that’s plaguing the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE): only 3,000 sites have been remediated since 1990. By ensuring that there’s money available to clean up these sites, Polluter Pay will save Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars, all while protecting our Great Lakes way of life.

“Last year, Michigan voters sent a clear message that they want a governor and state legislature that holds corporate polluters accountable,” said Christy McGillivray, legislative and political director for Michigan Sierra Club. “Whether it’s PFAS from Tribar or coal ash dumps from corporate utilities like DTE, no community should be responsible for the cleanup costs of legacy contamination. Lansing lawmakers must step up and pass Polluter Pay.”

“Corporate polluters shouldn’t get a free pass for harming our air, land, and water,” said Denzel McCampbell, managing director of Progress Michigan. “Our Lake Effect polling results make it clear – there’s overwhelming support for polluter pay legislation to ensure our communities and public health are protected. Now it’s time for our lawmakers to listen to their constituents and get it done.”