Michigan Coal Ash Bill Concerns Contractors, Land Owners - Part 1

Michigan residents, in many ways, are connected to the environment. Between the Great Lakes and national parks, there is a lot of natural beauty to be proud of. This is exactly why issues related to the environment are likely to spark conversation.

Right now, there is a growing buzz over a bill working its way through the Michigan legislature. If the bill passes, construction companies would be able to use coal ash remnants from power plants for use in a larger number of projects than currently allowed. Proponents of this bill indicate that allowing "beneficial use" status for coal ash would divert this waste from landfill. On the other hand, reports indicate that others have raised concerns about water contamination and subsequent harm caused to property owners.

Midwest Energy News reports that issues are being raised about the side effects of mixing coal ash into cement for construction purposes. Understanding that the ash contains heavy metals like arsenic and lead, some fear that the contaminants could leach into drinking water supplies. If this happens, then property owners affected by the issue would face losses in value.

At this point, critics of the proposal are concerned that property owners do not have to consent to the use of coal ash in construction projects. As such, they may not be made aware that their property value could take a hit as the result of contamination. Responding to this concern, supporters of the effort have pointed to existing protections in contract law.

There is a lot up in the air in relation to this bill -- people don't know what to expect from legislation in motion. Property owners planning construction projects may need assistance to determine if they are protected against unwarranted losses in value due to heavy metal leaching. Not only that, there are certainly overarching health concerns associated with water contamination.

The issues tied up in this legislative proposal are very complex issue and deserve additional coverage. In a forthcoming post, we will look at the ways in which construction contractors can remain in compliance with environmental and land use laws.

Source: Midwest Energy News, "Michigan seeks to expand use of coal ash, but at what cost?" Andy Balaskovitz, May 19, 2014

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