Street Talk

Street Talk: State’s chemical reaction

Going global.

April 5, 2019
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Just a day after the extent of contamination at the Wolverine tannery site became public knowledge on March 25, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced she is re-establishing the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) science advisory board.

The board will study the science around exposure to PFAS.

MPART was created in 2017 as a temporary body to investigate PFAS. Whitmer signed an executive order Feb. 4 establishing it as permanent.

Also on March 26, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) said it would issue a request for rulemaking to set a drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFAS statewide.

The Whitmer administration said it wants the MPART groups to inform the scope of the rulemaking and the standards.

“The science is clear that the 70 parts per trillion (ppt) health advisory level for PFOS and PFOA is not sufficiently protective of the health and well-being of Michigan residents,” said Charlotte Jameson, energy policy and legislative affairs director with the Michigan Environmental Council.

“For years, communities across Michigan have been calling on our state government to set a drinking water standard for these toxic chemicals that is grounded in science and protective of human health. We thank Gov. Whitmer for listening to the concerns of Michigan residents and continuing to prioritize protecting our water by setting in motion a process to study the science around PFAS and set a drinking water standard.”

According to MPART, PFAS chemicals still are “used in thousands of applications throughout the industrial, food and textile industries and are an ingredient in some firefighting foams, food packaging, cleaning products and various other household items.”

PFAS chemicals are made more dangerous because they are incredibly stable, forming strong molecular bonds, breaking down slowly in the environment and easily transferring through soil to groundwater because they are highly soluble.

Trade route

A new study from Business Roundtable finds that international trade supports 1,114,900 jobs in Michigan, representing nearly one out of every five jobs in the state.

Trade with Canada and Mexico alone supports 338,300 jobs in Michigan, highlighting the need to preserve and strengthen the North American trading relationship by passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) this year, according to Business Roundtable.

Exports from Michigan to Canada and Mexico have increased by 107 percent since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“The CEO members of Business Roundtable, who lead companies with more than 15 million employees, strongly support congressional passage of USMCA implementing legislation this year. We stand united to preserve and modernize North American trade, which supports over 12 million jobs and a strong U.S. economy,” said Tom Linebarger, chair and CEO of Cummins Inc. and chair of the Business Roundtable Trade & International Committee.

The study — prepared by Trade Partnership Worldwide with the latest-available employment data from 2017 — examines the net impacts of exports and imports of goods and services on U.S. jobs in all 50 states.

It also compared 2017 data to pre-NAFTA data from 1992. The study found that trade-supported jobs in Michigan increased by 92% from 1992, when NAFTA was implemented, to 2017 — seven times faster than total employment.

Some other findings include:

  • Michigan exported $39.1 billion in goods and services to Canada and Mexico in 2017.
  • Goods and services exports account for 14.4 percent of Michigan’s total GDP.
  • Trade has a positive net impact on both the services and manufacturing sectors across the country.

A summary of Michigan’s data can be found at bit.ly/2FZqGgL. The full study can be found at bit.ly/2K5hIT9.

A summary of data on Michigan’s trade with Canada and Mexico can be found at bit.ly/2UdWgzO.

Ready to go

The state is accepting applications for the new $1.5-million Site Readiness Program, meant to boost the inventory of available properties ready to compete for business attraction projects.

As part of the program, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. will provide up to $100,000 in grant funding to a community or other public entity to assist with the development or enhancement of industrial sites.

“This grant program is a key component of collaborating with local partners to highlight the strengths of available sites throughout the state and ensure Michigan is investing in site readiness across our communities,” MEDC CEO Jeff Mason said.

Grant funds under the program can be used for activities including site development studies or site material development, site implementation or land assembly activities, and more. A local match is strongly recommended and will be a consideration for a competitive project.

A key component of the Site Readiness Program is the establishment of Vetted Site Standards, a voluntary resource that provides a roadmap to helping Michigan sites achieve “shovel ready” status. These standards include appropriate planning and zoning, boundary survey, proper soil and environmental conditions, and more.

The term of the grant is up to 24 months.

The deadline for applications is May 1, and funds will be awarded June 1.

Worldview

Michigan’s top business, military, nonprofit, faith and community leaders have joined together to highlight the importance of American engagement overseas by launching the Michigan Advisory Committee of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. The new and growing leadership group underscores Michigan’s commitment to development and diplomacy and emphasizes the importance of investing in America’s International Affairs Budget.

Former Sen. Carl Levin, along with former Gov. Rick Snyder and Hendrik Meijer, CEO of Meijer Inc., are the bipartisan co-chairs of the new Advisory Committee that now boasts more than 80 leaders in the state, including former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, former Congressman Mike Rogers, and former Congressman and now Bay County executive, Jim Barcia.

“I am honored to help lead the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s expansion in Michigan, and I am thrilled to see this impressive group of Michiganders come together to support why America must be a global leader,” Levin said. “Our state's economy, security and prosperity are linked to the rest of the world. And, if we want to create a better future for our children and communities, we must continue to be engaged overseas.”

“I am pleased to be part of the USGLC coalition. Our state has long recognized that Michigan is safer and more prosperous locally when the United States leads globally,” Meijer said. “As Michigan’s own Senator (Arthur) Vandenberg has declared: ‘Politics stops at the water’s edge.’ I’m delighted to join with the USGLC as we take Vandenberg’s words to heart and continue this bipartisan work to support America’s engagement with the world.”

In addition to building economic prosperity, U.S. foreign assistance is a critical tool to protect America’s national security by countering violent extremism, promoting global stability and preventing conflict before it occurs.

Last year, Michigan exported nearly $60 billion in goods to foreign markets, and trade supported nearly one-fifth of Michigan’s jobs, making U.S. international engagement a strategic issue for the community.

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