Government Held to Different Standard in Environmental Matters

Hayes discusses Kalamazoo River spill on WWMT

If a private company were responsible for the mistake that led to the discharge of over 570,000 gallons of wastewater into the Kalamazoo River this week, there would likely be public outrage, but because the government is responsible, most seem to turn a blind eye.

Mackinac Center’s Director of Environmental Policy Jason Hayes explained to WWMT/News Channel 3 that there’s a “clear double standard” when an environmental disaster is caused by government rather than a private company.

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“Enbridge, because of a pipeline leak, had spilled oil into that same river, gets a $177 million judgement against it,” Hayes said, referring to a recent consent decree following the 2010 pipeline rupture. “What happens when government does this sort of thing is people just sort of shrug their shoulders and say, ‘What are you going to do?’”

The partially treated wastewater spilled after an alarm failed to alert workers at a reclamation plant that water levels were rising. According to Wood TV, the alarm did not go off because a sensor was set improperly. Though the spill forced a no-contact order in and around the river, there has been little-to-no backlash for the contamination.

Hayes said government agencies and localities should face repercussions and be held responsible when they contaminate and pollute the environment.

Watch the full interview with WWMT here.

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