Citizens Speak Out Against Legislation Threatening Workplace, Environmental Protections

Labor unions and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions spoke out against leg­is­la­tion to pro­hibit state agencies from rules more strin­gent than fed­eral standards, saying that this would wipe out important environmental, consumer and worker protections.

July 27, 2011

News from Blue Green Alliance and We Are the People

GRAND RAPIDS – Today rep­re­sen­ta­tives from labor and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions spoke out against leg­is­la­tion (HB4326/SB272) that would pro­hibit a state agency from adopt­ing a rule more strin­gent than fed­eral stan­dards, unless specif­i­cally autho­rized by state statute. The leg­is­la­tion would wipe out impor­tant envi­ron­men­tal, con­sumer and worker pro­tec­tions, and strip the governor’s author­ity to pro­tect the Great Lakes.

“Rac­ing to the bot­tom on envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and worker safety isn’t a jobs plan for Michi­gan,” said Mark Schauer, National Co-Chair of the Blue­Green Alliance Jobs 21! Cam­paign. “In fact, it’s quite the oppo­site. Instead we need to build on Michigan’s unique assets – its peo­ple and its nat­ural resources – to cre­ate the good jobs of the 21st cen­tury here.”

The bill – osten­si­bly designed to reduce reg­u­la­tions – actu­ally reduces pro­tec­tions for the Great Lakes and under­mines the power of Michigan’s gov­er­nor to act deci­sively to pro­tect them. Dur­ing the 1970s, Repub­li­can Gov. William Mil­liken issued an admin­is­tra­tive rule lim­it­ing phos­pho­rus in the Great Lakes to pro­tect Lake Erie. Under the new leg­is­la­tion, such author­ity would now rest in the hands of bick­er­ing state politi­cians and Wash­ing­ton bureaucrats.

“This leg­is­la­tion sends a clear mes­sage that state politi­cians don’t think the Great Lakes are worth pro­tect­ing,” said Mike Berkowitz, Chap­ter Orga­nizer for the Michi­gan Sierra Club. “Wash­ing­ton bureau­crats are not bet­ter equipped to pro­tect the Great Lakes than the peo­ple who live right here in Michi­gan. This ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t pro­tect ‘Pure Michi­gan,’ and it won’t cre­ate a sin­gle job.”

Cur­rently, the Leg­is­la­ture already has the author­ity to strike down any rule made by a Michi­gan governor’s admin­is­tra­tion. How­ever, the new bills would take away the governor’s author­ity to issue rules in the first place to pro­tect Michi­gan work­ers and our nat­ural resources.

“State politi­cians need to get their pri­or­i­ties straight,” said Sue Levy, UAW Region 1D CAP Coör­di­na­tor. “Instead of strip­ping impor­tant work­place and envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, our elected lead­ers should focus on rebuild­ing our econ­omy and cre­at­ing jobs for work­ing and middle-class families.”

Last month, a non­par­ti­san analy­sis from the House Fis­cal Agency found that the leg­is­la­tion would actu­ally, “increase the costs of pro­cess­ing admin­is­tra­tive rules by the sev­eral depart­ments and agencies.”