It’s not shaping up to be a good week for two proposed Chinese-affiliated electric vehicle battery plants in the Great Lakes State.
This means it’s also not a good couple of days for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, which has doled out billions of Michigan taxpayer dollars and other state and local tax incentives to lure the two manufacturing facilities.
On the heels of Monday’s announcement that Ford Motor Company was pumping the brakes on its Blue Oval collaboration with Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. in Marshall comes news of a major environmental lawsuit filed Tuesday against the controversial Gotion EV battery plant in Mecosta County.
Both plants are touted by Whitmer as critical to her MI Healthy Climate agenda.
Ford has not divulged entirely the reasons behind pausing construction of its Blue Oval facility. Gotion was informed Tuesday of an environmental lawsuit filed against it by Ecklund & Blando LLP on behalf of a coalition of Mecosta County residents and organizations.
In his Notice of Intent to Sue Under the ESA § 9 and the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, Related to Gotion’s Current and Anticipated Taking of Endangered Species and Destruction of Their Habitat, Attorney Robby Dube notes his clients claim Gotion is violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Michigan Environmental Protection Act as well as other claims, including:
“Crucially, the Gotion Property is also home to numerous endangered, threatened, and protected species. First and foremost, the majestic American Bald Eagle nests on the Gotion Property, making their homes in the very trees Gotion plans to tear down. Additionally, the Gotion Property houses a population of endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bees whose habitat will be destroyed by the construction of the Gotion Plant. It is also home to the even more endangered (and quite beautiful) Karner blue butterflies, who depend on the wetlands and its sole food source (the wild blue lupine) that grows on the Gotion Property to flourish. Further, the Muskegon River, which the Gotion Property effectively borders, is home to Elktoe, Black Sandshell, Slippershell, Round Pigtoes, Rainbow, and possibly Fluted shell mussels, with the Slippershell being listed as a Michigan endangered species and the Black Sandshell being listed as a Michigan threatened species. Additionally, the now-threatened snapping turtle resides in the Muskegon River within Green Charter Township. Finally, Dalziel Creek is a designated trout stream.”
The letter was addressed to Chuck Thelen, Gotion vice president; Deb Haaland, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior; Martha Williams, director, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service; Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel; and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Director Phillip Roos.
“Gotion has already begun utilizing large industrial trucks on the roads surrounding the Gotion Property, which cause significant area pollution through their operation and the dust and dirt they kick up,” Dube stated in his letter. “Further, Gotion is actively planning to begin taking down trees which serve as American Bald Eagle nests. Gotion is also planning to lay foundation and otherwise modify the ground upon which the wild blue lupine grows, destroying the sole food source of the Blue Karner Butterfly and the homes of the Rusty Patched Bumblebee,” he wrote.
Dube also noted his clients’ concerns over Gotion’s use of toxic and/or carcinogenic chemicals “lithium carbonate, coated spherical purified (aka synthetic) graphite, and iron phosphate. It is also likely to use N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), and styrene butadiene rubber (SBR). Gotion anticipates an intake of 715,000 gallons of water per day, and an output of 65,000 gallons of wastewater per day.”
Other chemicals and compounds listed by Dube include synthetic graphite and hydrofluoric acid.
MORE NEWS: 9PM: Rescue Michigan breaks down MIGOP chaos
“[T]he EPA specifically advises that NMP should not be released into the environment because it causes birth defects, cancer, and toxicity to the immune system and liver. SBR is a known carcinogen as well,” Dube added.
Ecklund & Blando is threatening the suit on behalf of clients Mecosta Environmental and Security Alliance, Lori Brock, Bruce Borkovich, and Larry Finkbeiner.
“The Gotion Plant is a massive industrial project being built on top of one of Michigan’s most pristine aquifers and wetlands, bordering waters of the United States, in an area inhabited by at least three endangered and protected species,” Dube wrote in his conclusion. “Thus, it has already, or will soon, take an endangered species in violation of the Endangered Species Act, and will harm the air, water, and other natural resources in violation of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act.”
Dube’s letter instructs Gotion to stop construction and seek the necessary national and state environmental approvals within 60 days, or Ecklund & Blando will file its lawsuit against the company.