Today, Governor Rick Snyder appointed Heidi Grether, the former executive of BP America, as the new director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Grether is the currently the deputy Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE).
BP is responsible for one of the largest marine oil spills in history after an oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in 2010. In her former role at BP, Grether was in charge of supervising Gulf Coast restoration efforts. In April 2014, BP claimed that cleanup was substantially complete, but the United States Coast Guard said that a lot of work remained. Reports from individuals on the Gulf Coast indicate the same.
While the administration is attempting to greenwash the appointee, enviro and other justice organizations around the state aren’t taking the bait.
“I am infuriated but not shocked that Snyder chose to appoint someone who had a hand in one of the worst man-made water disasters and cleanup failures in history to head the MDEQ,” said Melissa Mays, Flint resident and activist with Water You Fighting For and Flint Rising. “We have spoken with residents who are still affected by the BP disaster and they expressed concern that Flint water will also not get cleaned up properly. As we sit here in Flint, still unable to safely use our water, reading about who Snyder handpicked to run the MDEQ, we see those fears are more likely to be realized.”
“Snyder’s decision to yet again side with corporate polluters over protecting peoples’ health and safety continues to show his callous indifference to the suffering of Flint families and all Michiganders that have been harmed by the culture of putting the bottom-line first at the MDEQ,” said Lynna Kaucheck, senior organizer with Food & Water Watch.
And in our own office, CACC board member and volunteer coordinator Jennifer Raymond was quoted as saying, “Snyder’s actions clearly underscore the need for grassroots environmental efforts as our civic leaders are clearly not prioritizing the needs of the environment around us.”