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AG Nessel Recaps the Department’s Environmental Work During Trip Up North

By Attorney General Dana Nessel

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reflects on her department’s work to protect the environment and Michigan’s bodies of water as she concludes a trip up north that concentrated on the recreational and cultural role of Michigan’s aquatic natural resources. 

“Michigan’s many habitats remain some of the most precious aspects of this state, and as long as I’m Attorney General I will fight to protect them,” said Nessel. “I am proud of the work done by the dedicated public servants in our Environment, Natural Resources, & Agriculture Division to this end. Their dedication to defending Michigan’s resources touches communities in every corner of our state.” 

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Thursday, the Attorney General attended a flag raising event in recognition and celebration of the Clean Marina certificate received by the Alpena Marina in May of 2022. The Clean Marina certificate is granted to marinas who strive to reduce waste disposal costs, reduce pollution, protect fish and wildlife, and promote environmentally sound practices. 

Her day in Alpena ended with a visit to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary where she discussed with community members the importance of protecting the Great Lakes and Michigan’s long and storied history of shipping and navigation. 

Attorney General Nessel also attended time trials for the 75th annual AuSable River Canoe Marathon in Grayling, as well as the weeklong AuSable River Festival in downtown Grayling. The marathon is the longest, non-stop, canoe-only race in North America and draws racers from across the state, nation, and world. 

“The AuSable River Festival and Canoe Marathon are just two examples of how Michigan’s waterways are engrained into our local culture and economies,” said Nessel. “Events like this showcase our state and underscore how vital it is that we continue the fight to protect our air, water and land.”

Today, Attorney General Nessel was joined by the Conservation Fund in Bay City to learn more about the new spawning reef construction, local restoration projects and the Saginaw Bay Sturgeon Restoration program. The native sturgeon population has been dwindling significantly due to overharvesting, pollution and destruction of their natural habitat. Efforts to restore the population have been in place since the 1990’s. 

Michigan is home to 22% of the Earth’s fresh surface water. Under Attorney General Nessel, the Environment, Natural Resources, & Agriculture Division (ENRA) has led multiple initiatives to protect Michigan’s environment including:

  • Protecting the Great Lakes: Attorney General Nessel is continuing her fight to shut down the Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac that pose a grave threat to Michigan’s environment and economy. Just recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted her request to review a lower court’s decision in her litigation against Enbridge Energy.
  • Holding Polluters Accountable: Attorney General Nessel continues to be a leader in actions filed to hold PFAS manufacturers and polluters accountable for PFAS contamination.
    • Nessel was one of the first attorneys general to bring legal action against 3M, DuPont, and other manufacturers of PFAS.
    • Another case, Nessel v. Asahi Plastics North America, settled in January of this year. The settlement requires Asahi to investigate PFAS in soil, groundwater, and surface water from their former facility and to undertake response actions to address levels that exceed state criteria.
    • Last month, Attorney General Nessel filed charges against a Traverse City Man for abandoning his barge on Lake Michigan bottomlands. He is facing a criminal felony charge for the release of hazardous substances (oil) to waters of the State, as well as misdemeanors for trespass, marine safety violations, and placement of fill material (the barge) on Great Lakes submerged lands without a permit. This case is a criminal prosecution brought forward by the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Unit.
    • In June, Attorney General Nessel also filed a complaint against Zimba Dairy for violations related to unlawful discharges into state waters. By law, Zimba must properly manage the waste it produces by confining so many animals in a small space; instead, it has flaunted wastewater permitting rules and continues to pollute Michigan’s water resources.
    • Together with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Attorney General Nessel initiated legal action against Schlicht Ponds. This lawsuit seeks relief under the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to hold Schlicht Ponds accountable for the damages they have caused to the natural resources of this State and to prohibit Schlicht Ponds from further violations.
  • Multistate efforts: Attorney General Nessel has also enjoined multiple efforts throughout her time in office to support clean water efforts nationwide. Just this week, she supported the Biden Administration’s Ocean Justice Strategy which encompasses the Great Lakes coastal communities. 

A thorough list of the department’s releases on environmental issues may be found here

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