Aug 4, 2014

Schuette Sues to Block Great Lakes Clean-Up As Thousands Denied Clean Drinking Water

Vote for Mark Totten for Attorney General

Mark Totten for Michigan Attorney General
August 4, 2014
Contact: / (269) 203-3520
Schuette Sues to Block Great Lakes Clean-Up 
As Thousands Denied Clean Drinking Water
Sides with major campaign contributors in lawsuit
that harms Michigan families, Great Lakes 
KALAMAZOO — As state and national attention focuses on how Great Lakes pollution is denying nearly a half-million people clean drinking water in Michigan and Ohio, Attorney General Bill Schuette is in court fighting efforts to clean up Lake Erie and prevent the very contamination now at issue. Schuette has received tens of thousands of a dollars in campaign contributions from the industrial polluters he is championing in his law suit.

Mark Totten, a Democratic candidate for Michigan Attorney General, stated: "Industry doesn’t need another lawyer; Michigan children who can’t drink the water out of their own faucets do," said Mark Totten, Democratic candidate for Attorney General. “Yet again, Schuette has put his donors and political career ahead of keeping our families and children safe, and families throughout southeast Michigan are paying the price.”

The case at issue was brought by industrial groups challenging a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay that would prevent the algae blooms currently grabbing headlines in Lake Erie. Schuette said he joined the Chesapeake case to ensure similar clean-ups were not contemplated for the Great Lakes. The primary plaintiff in the case is the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has donated thousands of dollars to Schuette’s Attorney General campaign. For example, on September 27, 2010, the Farm Bureau wrote Schuette a check for $20,000.

The states surrounding the Bay and the federal government have all backed the plan, known as the “Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.” For years, pollution has severely degraded the waters of the Chesapeake, causing not only environmental harm but damaging local economies. After years of regulating point sources (i.e., drain pipes), the state and federal partners decided serious measures to curb non-point sources was necessary to restore the waters. The primary source of non-point pollution is agricultural run-off that elevates levels of phosphorus in the Bay – the very pollutant that led to the toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie this past week.
In Sept. 2013 the industry challengers lost their case. They appealed and Schuette, along with other state attorneys general, filed a brief supporting the industrial groups. Except for Michigan, which does not lie within the watershed, all of the state AGs who joined the brief are located within the Mississippi basin and are worried about limits being placed on pollutants entering the river.

In explaining his reason for joining a case half-way across the nation that concerns a body of water nowhere near Michigan, Bill Schuette explained: “If this [plan] is left to stand, other watersheds . . . could be next.” Of course, for Michigan “other watersheds” means the Great Lakes.

As the President’s “Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan” recently concluded, “[n]onpoint sources are now the primary contributors of many pollutants to the lakes and their tributaries.” Just three months ago, the President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes published an article in the Detroit Free Press chiding Bill Schuette for meddling in the Chesapeake clean-up plan and warning that Schuette’s efforts could threaten clean drinking water from Lake Erie – a prophecy now come true.

In addition to receiving the criticism of several environmental groups, Schuette’s counterparts in other states have also criticized him. Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, filed a brief in the same case opposing Schuette. In a statement accompanying his brief, Herring said: “Each Bay state, including Virginia, voluntarily entered into the current Bay restoration plan because of the economic, recreational, environmental, and intrinsic value of a healthy Chesapeake Bay. I hope the courts and my colleagues, none of whom serve a state which touches the Bay, recognize that fact and allow Virginian and its partners to continue their work.”
This release is available online here.
Mark Totten is a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at Michigan State University College of Law. He holds a law degree and a PhD in ethics from Yale University. Totten previously served as an attorney in the United States Department of Justice and as a clerk on a federal court of appeals. A media kit including a biography and media photos is available here.
Visit online at: or on Twitter at: @MarkTottenForAG
Contact: / (269) 203-3520.

Paid for by Mark Totten for Attorney General · PO Box 19463, Kalamazoo, MI 49019, United States
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