Democrats introduced a package of eight bills into the House of Representatives on Monday that are aimed at holding polluters in Michigan accountable for destruction they may cause. The package, which would increase both financial and criminal penalties for polluting in Michigan, comes as a response to the “green ooze” discovery on Interstate-696 in December.
The package would eliminate the statute of limitations for the state to file a claim to recover cleanup costs from a polluter, establish violation fines for corporations as a percentage of revenue rather than a fixed amount and repeal a bill that allowed members of corporate polluters to sit on panels impacting environmental regulations
“Until now there’s been very little regulation for bad actors or protections for the people they’re poisoning. It’s really been a case of letting the fox guard the hen house,” said state Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-41-Troy) in a statement on Monday. “Children are taught to clean up after themselves, to wipe up their spills and tidy their messes. Michiganders have a right to expect the same level of responsibility from corporate polluters and the leaders who run those companies.”
The package would also create a Responsible Corporate Doctrine that allows CEOs to be held both financially and criminally responsible for decisions resulting in pollution.
The bill package follows the discovery of a hexavalent chromium leak on I-696 in December. The leak was the result of improperly contained chemical at former sites owned by Gary Sayers.
“Families, communities, taxpayers expect accountability from major corporations, and justice when they violate the public trust in such a negligent way,” said state Rep. Jim Ellison (D-26-Royal Oak), who represents the area where the chemical leak was first discovered. “Justice is ensuring our communities and our environment are made whole when they’re abused at the hands of greedy corporate polluters. Accountability is ensuring those who cheat the system and cause that pollution pay with their money and their time. Our package does both.”
– – –
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]