House Dem Package Holds Bad Actors and Poisonous Polluters Accountable
- Thousands sites across Michigan are contaminated by a variety of chemicals — from PFAS to dioxaine to the now infamous hexavalent chromium — largely due to bad actors and corporations willingly polluting Michigan’s air, water and land for the sake of profit.
- Current statute does not adequately hold these polluters responsible, often only requiring fines which amount to a slap on the wrist and providing no recourse for Michiganders who discover contamination years after a company has shut down.
- House Democrats have an eight bill package to finally bring bad actors and corporate polluters to justice, to hold them accountable for their negligence, and to ensure they pay for the damage they’ve caused.
LANSING, Mich., Feb. 3, 2020, — In the wake of the “green ooze” discovery exposing yet another instance of negligent corporate pollution in the state, House Democrats introduced legislation at a press conference today to provide real, tangible ways to hold bad actors accountable for the destruction they cause. The eight-bill package would increase financial and criminal penalties for companies that poison our air, water and land while also incentivizing corporate leaders to behave more responsibly.
The spotting of the hexavalent chromium leak on I-696 in December, and the subsequent exposure of improperly contained chemicals at former sites owned by Gary Sayers, was just the latest in a series of stories over the last decade revealing a pattern of major corporations knowingly exposing communities to poisonous chemicals. Thousands of sites across Michigan are contaminated with everything from PFAS to dioxaine to sulfur dioxide due to negligent business practices.
“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-Troy). “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 House Dem package would, among other things, make NREPA violation fines a portion of revenue as opposed to a fixed, often miniscule amount (HB 5455), eliminate the statute of limitations to file a civil claim due to environmental issues (House Bill 5453), and establish a Responsible Corporate Doctrine allowing CEOs to be held financially and criminally responsible for business decisions that result in pollution.
“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-Royal Oak), who represents the area where the “green ooze” 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.”
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