I hope this finds all of you well. I had planned to write about challenges facing Michigan and environmental lawyers—and that was before the coronavirus pandemic erupted. Michigan’s environmental challenges have not gone away, although our recent focus, understandably, has been elsewhere. These challenges, some present, some further off, include:
Rising waters. The Great Lakes are all rising, with Lake Michigan setting a record in March. Inland waters are also affected, and even the ground in many areas is close to saturation. Waterfront homes, roads, and other infrastructure are threatened, and shoreline activities are being curtailed, all challenging our ability to protect these resources in conjunction with their human use. At least four parts of NREPA are involved, as well as state and federal administrative programs. And these protections have never been administered in such a time-sensitive situation.
Climate change secondary impacts. You are all especially familiar with existing and projected effects of climate change. Michigan, at least, is projected to retain a temperate climate for several decades until at least 2100, as well as having abundant fresh water and being well above rising oceans. Sounds like a pretty nice place to move to, especially in light of projected conditions elsewhere, and several million people may wish to become Michiganders. If that happens, the pressure to develop will be intense, precipitating another string of resource use conflicts that will be decided in the Legislature, agencies, and judicial system.
Read Full Article