With 2019 ringing in a different party in charge of regulating all things natural resources as Democrats took over in Washington D.C. and Michigan elected an entire top line of Democrats, things have changed and mostly for the better so far on the PFAS problem being confronted by Oscoda and elsewhere in Michigan and the USA.
First off, Senator Gary Peters has had some back and forth with the Air Force on the immediate issue of Oscoda water and he had the poking-stick out:
“Yet the Air Force has opted to claim sovereign immunity from state environmental quality regulations and water resources protection laws,” he went on.
“As you know, Congress has waived sovereign immunity for purposes of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, The Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act,” he wrote.
Sovereign immunity is really the only defense the Air Force is using to delay and deny more money for a clean up. If they have lost that as Peters says, good for Oscoda.
The United States Senate is looking to classify PFAS as 'hazardous substances' which could well mean more cleanup funds for Michigan and none too soon:
“The hazardous substance designation has been discussed for decades,” said Arnie Leriche of Need Our Water (NOW) in Oscoda and a member of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, after the plan was unveiled.
In Michigan, at least 1.5 million Michigan residents are drinking water with some PFAS, the state determined with a year-long testing effort of municipal systems and schools. The city of Parchment’s system was shut down and a school in Grand Haven had to turn to bottle water after high test results. Ongoing testing will be required from 35 municipal systems, 19 schools and 8 daycares as the state considers the safety levels of the contaminants.
At a strictly Michigan level, new Department Environmental Quality Director Liesl Eichler Clark answered questions from both sides of the aisle recently and yes, PFAS and other similar chemicals did come up:
Clark also faced questions from lawmakers on things like energy, agriculture, redeveloping brownfield sites and pollution monitoring and harmful water contaminants like per- and poly-fluorinated compounds.
“We’ve heard from EPA that they plan to move forward, but maybe not as fast as I think many folks were interested, particularly from a Michigan perspective,” she told Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, who asked how the department could regulate something that isn’t well-defined yet.
So, here we stand currently, kind of a take on our old News Roundups in Jersey City. Things would seem to be moving in a more positive direction but much work remains.
Johnny has been mighty impressed by how much ownership locals have taken on this issue. They have educated themselves and organized.
Near as Johnny can tell, Oscoda was a lumber town. Then it was an Air Force town. Now, going forward it will have to show off it's greatest resource to make it a bigger tourist town unless Amazon has some deal with the township we don't know about yet. Clean water is where all the natural beauty begins. Oscoda will rely on it now more than ever. We can't do it if hunters can't hunt deer in half the area or eat a lot of the local fish in the Au Sable River. Johnny will now join those who have already joined the battle.