Michigan’s Lead Drinking Water Protections Upheld By Court

DETROIT, MI – The effort to squash Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule, passed to prevent future disasters like Flint’s lead drinking water crisis, was rejected today by the Michigan Court of Claims. The ruling ended all legal claims outlined in the complaint from cities and water utilities aimed to dismantle the nation’s strongest lead standard, which restricts lead in drinking water and requires the removal of lead service lines throughout the state.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (GLELC) filed three amicus briefs in March, June and August 2019, in support of the Michigan law. The following is a reaction from both organizations:

Jeremy Orr, Staff Attorney of the Safe Water Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Today, the court ruled to protect access to safe, affordable drinking water for all Michigan residents, a long-deserved basic human right. For years, residents suffered through a litany of trauma, unknowingly poisoned whenever they drank from the tap. We may not be able to reconcile the past, but the ruling is an important step towards righting a wrong that inflicted an already overburdened community. The Michigan rule stands as the most protective drinking water standard in the nation—all Americans deserve similar protections, so the state rule should serve as the minimum example for federal lead action.”            

Nick Leonard, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center:

“With its latest ruling, the Court of Claims has ruled that Michigan’s Lead and Copper rule is legal in every way. We hope that the water systems will now turn their attention to implementing the Rule and ensuring their residents have safe drinking water, rather than continuing their fight to strike down the country’s most protective lead and copper rule.”

The lawsuit opposing Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule was filed by the Great Lakes Water Authority, City of Livonia, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggin, Oakland County Commissioner Jim Nash, along with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and the Oakland County Water Commission.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (GLELC) is a Detroit-based nonprofit that offers community education, policy support, and various legal services to address environmental, resource, & energy issues affecting communities in and around Detroit, all over Michigan, and throughout the Great Lakes region. Visit GLELC at www.glelc.org.



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