The 2024 Issue Outlook: Hope and Possibility for Michigan’s Environment

A nationally significant package of Michigan climate bills enacted in 2023 may herald significant progress on other environmental issues in 2024.

That’s the hope that FLOW and partner groups bring to the policy agenda in the year ahead. With legislative majorities and a governor in favor of strengthening Michigan environmental protections, we have opportunities for forward movement.

At the same time, some roadblocks loom. The Democratic legislative majority is temporarily in jeopardy because of vacancies in the House of Representatives. And it’s always difficult for issues to get a hearing, and then get approval by the legislature, during election years.

But these obstacles can be overcome, especially with strong public support and demand for clean water and other environmental protections.

Other policy advances may happen through the courts and at the community level.

Here’s what FLOW is working towards in 2024:

Strengthening the Great Lakes Compact, which is the region’s defense against water diversions outside the Great Lakes states, through analysis and advocacy.
Protecting human health, groundwater, and surface water from septic system pollution. We’re working with coalition partners and stakeholders to develop a statewide septic code.
Removing legislative handcuffs that prevent the state from updating water protections to reflect current science and federal standards.
Shutting down Line 5 and its dangerous tunnel replacement, and advocating for smart energy alternatives to protect the Great Lakes.
Protecting against overwhelming livestock factory farm pollution, including a boom in manure biodigesters, which leave behind concentrated waste.
Banning toxic TCE (Trichloroethylene), the primary contaminant at more than 300 sites in Michigan and a proven health hazard to workers and communities.
Assisting communities in restoring and protecting the environment, and lending our legal expertise to help citizens and community groups protect and preserve their rights under the public trust doctrine.
Restoring the polluter pay principle and ending the creation of groundwater sacrifice zones. The repeal of “polluter pay” in the 1990s has cost Michigan taxpayers hundreds of million dollars, while more groundwater and soils have been declared too polluted to use at more than 3,000 sites.

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