***CWA Press Release***
Oakland Commissioners Sharply Criticized for Anti-Water Vote Resolution Opposes Bill That Would Prevent Outsourcing Waters
PONTIAC, MI—Clean Water Action sharply criticized a resolution approved today, by a panel of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, that opposes proposed state legislation that would strengthen water protections in the wake of government and corporate actions that threaten drinking water sources.
In a vote along party lines, the county board’s General Government Committee approved the resolution under pressure from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an advocacy group financially supported by corporate and right-wing national funders.
“The message these Oakland County commissioners send with this resolution is exactly the message that China and CEOs want to hear, “said Cyndi Roper, Special Projects Director for Clean Water Action. “What the vote today says is that the groundwater that feeds Oakland County’s streams, keeps Oakland County lakes alive and is the circulatory system for our entire Great Lakes ecosystem doesn’t deserve to be safeguarded from a state government that is sometimes all too willing to allow our waters to be sold for profit and exported to thirsty countries like China.
“That’s not the message Oakland County should be sending to Lansing because the corporate lobbyists there are only too eager to kill any bill that keeps them from making more money for their CEOs.”
The county board panel’s resolution opposed House Bill 5319, which amends the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to classify groundwater as a public trust. Although lakes, rivers and streams have public trust protection, Michigan courts in recent years have eroded protections for groundwater as a result of suits filed by international water exporters like the Nestle Corporation. A nearly identical bill to HB 5319 passed the House with bipartisan support in 2008, but fell one vote shy of passing in the state Senate.
“We strongly urge the Board of Commissioner to reject those who want to turn Michigan’s waters over to corporate interests so, like our jobs, water can be outsourced in unlimited amounts to China and other places,” said Roper. “This is wrong, the people of Oakland County and Michigan know it’s wrong, and we hope their elected officials get the message and keep this resolution from being passed by the full board.”
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy claims the House bill is a threat to property rights, would require permits to use trout streams and would impose additional taxes and fines. None of that is true, said Roper.
“Some claim HB 5319 or public trust would require permits, taxes, and fees for withdrawal of groundwater,” said Roper. “There is nothing in HB 5319 that states or implies any such thing. Neither HB 5319 nor the public trust in water requires or authorizes permits, taxes, or fees. The public trust has nothing to do with groundwater regulation. It simply affirms and declares the overriding public trust interest in water so that government cannot interfere with or sell off or subordinate our rights of private reasonable use or public use and enjoyment of our water.“
Free Press Commentary about House Bill 5319 by lawyer/activist James Olson
Take Action: Flow For Water
Michigan House Bill 5319