Animals, by and large, don‘t make messes in their own nests. We do, and we have made bigger and more costly messes in industrial states like Michigan than just about anywhere else. P> And as a result, we have vast amounts of severely contaminated land. Partly, this was because we didn‘t know any better, back in the early industrial days of the automotive industry.
Even in my misspent youth in the 1960s, guys would go to a vacant lot, change the oil in their hot rods, and pour the old stuff onto the ground. Nobody knew quite how terrible that was.
Now think of the pollution produced by all those automotive plants, some of which are now a century old, places where the ground is full of nickel and lead and cadmium. There are many places that have essentially been unusable because the expense of cleaning them up was more than the value of the land.
However, we got some good news about all this this week. President Obama and General Motors are establishing a huge, $836 million-dollar trust fund for environmental cleanup at now-closed GM sites. Not surprisingly, more of this money is going to be spent in Michigan than anywhere else. This involves more than fifty sites in Detroit, Pontiac, Saginaw, Willow Run, and of course Flint.
They hope to get this all going by the end of the year.
By the way, the General Motors in this project isn’t the one that builds cars, but its unlovely twin, Motors Liquidation, Inc, the corporation the government established to sell off and liquidate the unwanted and bad parts of the old GM.
In another bit of good news, we’re told that this shouldn’t cost any new taxpayer dollars. When it was established as part of last year’s government-sponsored bankruptcy, Motors Liquidation was given $1.2 billion to close up shop, and this money would be the lion’s share of that. This should be especially good news for Flint.
The very first cleanup site scheduled is the sprawling and now-abandoned Buick City complex, which includes hundreds of acres.
In many cases, cleanup will include not only treating and removing contaminated soil, but demolishing abandoned factories themselves. This is essential, of course, if Flint or any of the other cities involved hope to lure new development there.
There has been talk of building a so-called intermodal transportation and distribution center at what was Buick City.
Governor Jennifer Granholm wants to see the areas being cleaned up become clean energy manufacturing sites.
That’s a worthy goal, but right now I’d guess most cities would be content with anybody reputable who would open a business and put some of their citizens back to work.
Initially, I was doubtful that this $800 million would be enough money to clean up all the polluted GM sites, but they say it’s more than enough. If that turns out to be so, I have an idea.
This is taxpayer money anyway, and I would like to see the rest of it used to start cleaning up old Ford Motor Company sites.
Pollution is pollution. The more we get rid of, the better off we will be. Not to mention all the unborn generations to come.