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Environmental groups urge Snyder to veto water bill

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Environmental groups say a bill headed for Governor Rick Snyder’s desk could increase the amount of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

The bill involves ballast water. That’s water large ships collect to help stabilize their vessel. The ships gather the water in one region, taking plant and animal species with them, and then when the ship doesn’t need the water, it dumps it someplace else. The bill loosens the treatment regulations on that water before it’s dumped into the Great Lakes.

Nicholas Occhipinti, government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, said the group plans to work with other organizations and concerned citizens to urge the governor to vote no.

“I think it’s a pretty easy sell that protecting the Great Lakes is just of critical importance to the people of Michigan,” he said.

Snyder could veto the measure – it sat in the Legislature for months because it was likely Snyder would veto it. But the bill was amended before it passed, and the bill’s sponsor, Representative Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway, said he didn’t want to sit on it anymore. He hopes the changes mean the governor will sign it.  

“I mean the governor could decide to go the other way on this,” he said. “That’d be a real shame and I can’t imagine he’d want to take a step back.”

Lauwers said the bill would improve the state’s shipping industry and because it follows the federal treatment standards, wouldn’t be harmful to the environment.

But Occhipinti and other environmental groups still aren’t on board.

“Improvements were made to the bill but it’s just not good enough for the Great Lakes,” said Occhipinti.

A spokesperson for the governor says he has not reviewed the bill yet and could not comment. The bill has yet to be formally presented to governor who then would have 14 days to decide.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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