Published in 2019

Published in 2019

Protecting Drinking Water in the Great Lakes: A Primer on Existing State Policies and Using the safe drinking water Act

While the federal Safe Drinking Water Act establishes national standards for drinking water protection from public water supplies, states are free to establish protections that are more stringent than the federal standards.

In partnership with American Rivers, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center published this report to compare how the 8 Great Lakes states are addressing 10 drinking water issues impacting the region. The 10 drinking water issues covered by the report are:

  • Maximum contaminant levels, treatment techniques, and monitoring standards

  • Lead as a drinking water contaminant

  • Consumer confidence reporting

  • Loans and grants

  • Public participation in standards, permits, and enforcement

  • Operator certification

  • Management of drinking water emergencies

  • Management of algal blooms and their consequences

  • Private water supplies: well construction and protection from pollution

  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Drinking Water

Published 2019

Published 2019

Vegetative Buffers and Tree Canopy: Promoting the use of trees to improve local air quality with local policy

In partnership with a team of multi-disciplinary Masters students from the University of Michigan, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center developed this report detailing how local governments can promote the development of increased tree canopy and vegetative buffers to improve local air quality and public health.

The report integrated case studies from leading cities, insights from a community engagement workshop in Detroit, and modeled the implementation of increased tree canopy and vegetative buffers at three Detroit sites.

Published in 2018

Published in 2018

Furthering Environmental Justice in Air quality enforcement with supplemental environmental projects

In Michigan, the penalties assessed against a violator of an environmental law or regulation go to the state general fund. This leaves the communities that have been directly impacted by the emissions or discharges that impact their quality of life with no redress for the harm they have suffered.

“Supplemental environmental projects” are environmentally beneficial projects that a violator may agree to undertake as part of the terms of an enforcement action that is initiated due to a violation of some environmental quality standard. If properly implemented, they can provide the people that are impacted by illegal emissions or discharges with redress for the harm they have suffered.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s policy regarding “supplemental environmental projects” creates a disincentive for violators to agree to conduct such projects. This report:

  • Describes how supplemental environmental projects may be used to further environmental justice

  • Compares Michigan’s policy to the U.S. EPA’s policy, as well as several other state policies.

  • Identifies obstacles to the robust use of supplemental environmental projects as a tool to further environmental justice in enforcement, and provides recommendations for revisions to Michigan’s policy