MARQUETTE – Grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) is calling on Governor Snyder to appoint an individual with proven experience in environmental protection to fill the leadership vacuum at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), following Director Dan Wyant’s resignation. Wyant resigned, along with a top MDEQ public relations staffer, after a State Task Force blamed MDEQ for Flint’s water quality crisis.
“This situation is urgent and new leadership is critical. The MDEQ needs a leader with an environmental track record, not a career administrator or an industry insider. The clock is ticking on a number of environmental permits currently under review by the MDEQ — including a mine permit application for what could be Upper Michigan’s second sulfide mine,” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director.
“Under Dan Wyant’s tenure, the MDEQ made decisions that benefited industry, at the sake of the environment — he was hand-picked for that purpose by Governor Snyder. Wyant was totally incapable of managing the agency. Snyder needs to be held accountable for appointing Wyant, just as he should now be held accountable for the egregious mismanagement of Flint’s water quality crisis,” said Jeffery Loman, former federal oil regulator and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal member.
“At the highest level, MDEQ leaders have repeatedly failed to protect water quality in Michigan. The MDEQ can’t go on treating our priceless rivers like sewer pipes, useful only for flushing away wastewater discharges,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.
“Michigan visitors, residents, and wildlife alike depend on clean water — for everything from habitats to recreation to drinking water. The Governor has apologized for the DEQ’s failure to ensure that the city of Flint had a safe water supply, for disregarding the concerns of local citizens and denying there was a problem. Now we hope he gets serious about reorganizing the MDEQ so that it works for the people of this state, instead of benefiting the big corporate polluters they’re supposed to be regulating,” said Steve Garske, SWUP board member.
“Lacking DEQ leadership, the task of defending clean water and wild places has fallen to grassroots organizations like Save the Wild U.P., F.O.L.K., Front 40, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, and so on,” said Maxwell.
“I applaud the concerned citizens in Flint who spoke out in order to sound the alarm about their contaminated water — that’s grassroots activism. These ordinary citizens are truly heroes. It’s clear that the EPA only got involved in Flint because of citizen efforts, while the DEQ tried to cover up the problem,” said Heideman.
“Our message to Governor Snyder is simple,” said Maxwell. “In 2016, Michigan deserves real environmental leadership.”
Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to preserving the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s unique cultural and environmental resources. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or on Twitter @savethewildup.