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The environment gets a few quick mentions in State of the State address

Jan 19, 2017

The environment came up a handful of times in Governor Snyder’s State of the State address.

The governor was often light on details, and he didn't talk about the Flint water crisis until halfway through the speech.

But Snyder did announce some new initiatives. He called for more investment in our aging infrastructure, announced a work group to study environmental justice issues, reminded the Legislature that he wants tighter standards for lead in drinking water.

“It needs to have lower acceptable levels, it needs to have better testing protocols, it needs to have better notification and it needs to have better public input," he said.

Snyder first proposed this tougher lead standard last spring.

He also mentioned wetlands in his address, saying the state has lost about four million acres of wetlands over the last few decades.

“The DNR is going to create a public-private partnership on state land to work with local land owners to say, we can use state lands as a mitigation bank, to help encourage development and at the same time protecting our environment,” Snyder said.

The idea here is to set aside some amount of wetlands in one area in exchange for a developer building on wetlands someplace else.

James Clift is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He says it’s something the state should have been doing a long time ago.

"If we can set aside wetlands, get them protected, in order to kind of offset the development and the loss of wetlands we've of course experienced over time," he says.

But he says you have to design the program carefully.

“It’s important to look at: where are they being protected, were they being protected before?” says Clift.

He says there might also be ways to protect wetlands on private land through this kind of program.