A bill working its way through the state legislature would make it much harder for state agencies to have regulations that are stricter than federal rules. That includes environmental standards—like how much lead is allowed in your drinking water.
State representative Triston Cole sponsored the bill. He says it would make Michigan more business-friendly and put more power in the hands of the legislature.
“This in no way stops Michigan from having rules and laws that are more stringent than federal guidelines," he said. "It just doesn’t allow internal bureaucrats from creating these without having the voice of the people heard.”
But environmental groups, like the Michigan Environmental Council, say federal standards don’t go far enough. James Clift is the council’s policy director.
“Most federal programs, they’re designed to be kind of absolute minimums," said Michigan Environmental Council policy director James Clift.
"They’re designed not necessarily to protect public health or safety but many times take into consideration a lot economic and other affordability questions. And really by design they were always done that way so states could decide, 'Hey, what’s best for our residents?'”
For some toxic chemicals, there is no federal standard. That’s case with 1,4 dioxane - which has been found in wells in Kalamazoo County and Ann Arbor.
State agency directors would have to prove there is a “clear and convincing need” to exceed federal standards. The bill has passed the state House. It now moves on to the state Senate.