The State of Michigan’s tourism ad campaign, ‘Pure Michigan,’ implies (among other things) clean water. It is an illusion, but a widely accepted illusion, especially outside Michigan where it has attracted visitors. The ad campaign doesn't mention frequent beach closings or the PCB- and mercury-laced fish, but tourists have seemed willing to overlook such shortcomings.
Nevertheless, you can only push your luck so far. What had been a catchy phrase and a phenomenal success in promoting tourism, ‘Pure Michigan’ became diluted and cheapened when a political cabal in Lansing started renting out the phrase to the likes of Kroger.
Steadily over recent years, the very concept that suggested a clean, healthy and pleasant locale to visit was undermined and ultimately trashed by a cadre of exploiters and abusers, unrelenting in their quest for lower business taxes and less government, including less environmental regulation.
They put greed and special interests ahead of public health and a clean environment.
The Flint water debacle is the most recent example. Administrators from the Michigan Department of Agriculture (having been given a tail, “...and Rural Development”) or MDARD were put in charge of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), obviously to deflect enforcement action away from agricultural polluters, particularly the big factory farms that have appeared in the past decade or two.
Other departures from the purity proclaimed in the tourism ads are plain. Instead of improving the suffocating, chemical-laden air in southeast Detroit, the Lansing cabal was smiling on plans to increase toxic emissions from a steel plant and an oil refinery, prior to the disaster in Flint.
Ancient, corroding pipelines throughout the state have gone uninspected; or have been inspected, found to be deficient and then ignored. Under the Granholm Administration, one such line ruptured, polluting wetlands, tributaries and the Kalamazoo River itself.
In 2014, either reckless, inattentive permitting or wink-and-a-nod permitting on the part of MDEQ concerning a huge construction site near East Grand Traverse Bay resulted in sediment clouding the bay and threatening pristine aquatic habitat after rain. MDEQ had allowed the construction contractor to strip the vegetation off 160 acres all at once.
Citizen reports of excessive pathogens and nutrients running off industrial-scale livestock feeding operations, supported by water samples, have been routinely ignored by MDEQ, which pleads lack of staff and budget, following reductions required by the governor and colleagues in the legislature.
In 2011, false reports concerning court-ordered sewage sludge production at the Detroit wastewater treatment plant, bearing upon pollution of the Detroit River and Lake Erie, went undiscovered by MDEQ, although an amateur (this writer) could find them.
Health risks associated with toxins and pathogens in Michigan’s numerous, polluted Areas of Concern are marginalized in MDEQ’s rush to be rid of the stigma that inhibits profit.
So much for ‘Pure Michigan.’