Gov. William Milliken used the EPGA twice, both in 1970. In the days leading up the first Earth Day, the governor declared a state of emergency for Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River and banned all fishing in those waters, effective April 15. Two weeks later, he issued a similar order that banned commercial walleye fishing on Lake Erie. The governor cited concerns about the level of mercury in these waters.
The ban was controversial and sport fishing organizations filed lawsuits against Gov. Milliken. He responded by amending his initial ban and allowed for catch-and-release fishing on the waters, beginning May 30.
Although the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed an early lawsuit against the governor’s ban, declaring it “without merit,” lower courts would later determine the continued ban to be improper. Three courts ruled against Gov. Milliken, and the orders became unenforceable. According to the Detroit Free Press, one judge ruled the ban unconstitutional because “the governor’s year-old ban had been continued too long, and … the Legislature should have acted if there was still an emergency.”
Although Gov. Milliken never appears to have announced an official end to the emergency, he eventually opted for a different approach to mitigate concerns about mercury levels in these waters. The governor directed a regulatory agency to create rules about fishing safety and took a much more light-handed approach. Instead of banning fishing when mercury levels were relatively high, the state chose to post warnings about the potential dangers of eating fish and let people take their own risks.
Gov. Milliken next used the EPGA in response to disturbances at Eastern Michigan University in May 1970. This was a week after four students, while protesting the Vietnam War, were killed at Kent State University by members of the Ohio National Guard. Riots developed at EMU, and Gov. Milliken declared an emergency for the city of Ypsilanti. Fortunately, it was short-lived: He rescinded the emergency two days later.
 “Executive Order 1970-6” (State of Michigan, April 14, 1970), https://perma.cc/JE8F-AZW5.
 “Executive Order 1970-7” (State of Michigan, April 29, 1970), https://perma.cc/JF4M-PJCR.
 “State to Ease Fishing Ban May 30” (Detroit Free Press, May 21, 1970), https://perma.cc/2FJJ-6LAS.
 “Fishing Ban Legality to Face Test” (Traverse City Record-Eagle, Aug. 29, 1970), https://perma.cc/CQF7-U3ED.
 “Executive Order 1970-11” (State of Michigan, May 20, 1970), https://perma.cc/64TY-PFDQ.
 “State Court Upholds Fish Restrictions” (The Holland Evening Sentinel, Aug. 12, 1970), https://perma.cc/Z9WV-FBFM.
 “Judge Ordered to Clarify Rule Against Fishing Ban” (Detroit Free Press, Jan. 12, 1971), https://perma.cc/CT55-ZQC7; “Lake Fishing Ban Rule Illegal Again” (The Battle Creek Enquirer and News, March 4, 1971), https://perma.cc/ZT9U-VUZG.
 “State to Appeal Overturning of Fish Ban to High Court” (Detroit Free Press, April 9, 1971), https://perma.cc/FK57-9J9T.
 “Mercury Fish Rules Requested” (The Benton Harbor News-Palladium, March 6, 1971), https://perma.cc/4MRT-2PMZ.
 “State Junks Catch-Release Fishing Proposal” (Lansing State Journal, Nov. 22, 1971), https://perma.cc/DAX5-BPSM.
 “Executive Order 1970-9” (State of Michigan, May 13, 1970), https://perma.cc/74QV-5PDG.
 “Executive Order 1970-10” (State of Michigan, May 15, 1970), https://perma.cc/Y8PQ-N4Z6.