Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer, Great Lakes governors oppose Trump’s water order

By: - April 17, 2019 5:46 am

Laina G. Stebbins

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and four other Democratic Great Lakes governors wrote a letter this week to President Donald Trump’s administration opposing an executive order over changes to water quality certifications.

Trump last week issued an executive order easing energy regulations that also alters the Clean Water Act, making it easier to approve pipeline projects. Both Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel already expressed their opposition.

The letter, which is led by Whitmer, also is signed by Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Tony Evers of Wisconsin and J. B. Pritzker of Illinois.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who signed on to letter last month with Whitmer and Midwest governors standing up against Trump’s proposed Great Lakes cuts, was not part of this latest effort. Walz wasn’t part of the March letter.

The April 16 letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Trump’s order “disregards mounting environmental concerns to the public” and urges the adminstration to reconsider it.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaking at the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, March 14, 2019 | Ken Coleman

The governors wrote that it is their “duty to safeguard the Great Lakes and other waters within their boundaries. State authority to certify, revoke, or revise federal permits of discharges into waters of the United States per Section 401 is crucial to the Clean Water Act’s framework of cooperative federalism. This authority allows states to maintain state water quality with respect to activities associated with federally permitted discharges.”

The letter concludes: “We strongly oppose any attempt by this administration to undermine state authority and ability to enforce water quality standards. We remain committed to do what is necessary to protect sources of drinking water, public health and our environment. The residents of our states deserve to have this critical work continue unimpeded.”

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 22-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, LGBTQ+ people, the state budget, the economy and more. She previously 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 90 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 5,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 80 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two kids along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.