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AG Nessel Marks Earth Day with Recap of Department’s Environmental Work
April 22, 2022
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reflecting on the important work done by her Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture (ENRA) Division as Earth Day brings added focus on ways to protect the planet and our natural resources.
“Each Earth Day we must take pause and reflect on the role we all play in protecting our environment,” Nessel said. “Our natural resources remain some of the most precious aspects of this state, and as long as I’m Michigan Attorney General, I will fight to protect them. I am proud of the work done by the dedicated public servants in our ENRA Division. Their dedication to defending Michigan’s resources extends well beyond April 22 every year.”
Recent and ongoing cases focused on protecting the environment include:
- Enbridge: AG Nessel is continuing her fight to shut down the Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac that pose a grave threat to Michigan’s environment and economy. This includes moving to get her lawsuit, Nessel v. Enbridge Energy, back to state court where it belongs, and to dismiss Enbridge’s lawsuit challenging Governor Whitmer’s revocation and termination of the 1953 Easement that Enbridge depends on.
- PFAS (Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances): AG Nessel continues to be a leader in actions filed to hold PFAS manufacturers and polluters accountable for PFAS contamination. Nessel was one of the first attorneys general to bring legal action against 3M, DuPont and other manufacturers of PFAS. Another case, Nessel v. Asahi Plastics North America, is pending in Livingston County Circuit Court. The defendant has made continued requests for delays, but the case is slated to go to trial sometime in 2022. It will be the first PFAS trial in the state. The office has also joined forces with other attorneys general in pressing on PFAS issues at the federal level, most recently urging the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use current-year funding to fully support initiatives identified in EPA's "PFAS Roadmap”.
- Arbor Hills Landfill Settlement: Following more than a year of negotiations, AG Nessel and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark announced a successful settlement agreement with the owner and operator of the Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Township. The settlement includes environmentally beneficial projects and fines that amount to more than $2.3 million. Other key components of the agreement are a network of monitors along the landfill perimeter to detect hydrogen sulfide and methane emissions before they reach neighboring subdivisions and reduce emissions to below concentrations that might create a nuisance, as well as constructing and operating a facility to collect household hazardous waste so it is not disposed in a landfill.
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs): Civil actions against CAFOs are filed to safeguard Michigan waters from pollution caused by factory farms. Most recently, Nessel filed an action against a CAFO in Calhoun County related to its longstanding and repeated failures to meet permit requirements, resulting in ongoing pollution of surface and ground waters. Previously a settlement with Slater Farms was announced in which the company accepted additional oversight and permit conditions related to waste storage, management, and disposal, as well as $120,000 in civil fines.
- Morrow Dam: After repeated attempts to urge sediment cleanup and natural resource restoration, Nessel filed suit on behalf of EGLE and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) related to Morrow Lake and Dam in Kalamazoo County. The action – now pending against STS Hydropower, LLC, and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC – was filed due to the companies' grossly mismanaged drawdown of the lake to complete repairs of their dam on the Kalamazoo River. The lawsuit seeks restoration of these important ecosystems and to compensate the public for the damage caused to the natural resources.
- Multistate actions to protect water resources, fight greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency:
- Participating in the ongoing Waters of the United States litigation to ensure that federal rules broadly protect lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands.
- Joining comments and litigation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, including most recently, a motion to intervene in defending federal greenhouse gas emissions for light duty vehicles.
- Remaining active in ongoing litigation and comments opposing the Trump administrations’ rollback of energy efficiency standards, and supporting President Biden’s efforts to reinstate them.