In 2018, Gretchen Whitmer laid out a “water plan” that aimed to “protect Michigan’s drinking water” from commercial withdraws.

Whitmer targeted Nestle, which was “abusing our water here in Michigan,” she said, by withdrawing about 360,000 gallons per day to bottle and sell through its Ice Mountain brand.

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“When it comes to Nestle, I don’t believe that they should be taking the water out of our ground and selling it, and I want to stop that,” Whitmer said during a gubernatorial debate in October 2018.

Six years later, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is currently promoting a “winning investment” for taxpayers in Big Rapids, where Chinese Communist Party-linked battery component manufacturer Gotion plans to withdrawal about 715,000 gallons of groundwater per day to feed the electric vehicle industry.

The battery component plant comes as part of a business incentive package inked by the Whitmer administration that will also divert $715 million in taxpayer subsidies to the company.

“I have a picture of me with her,” Peggy Case, board president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, told ProPublica of her meetings with Whitmer ahead of the 2018 election. “And yes, she was very strong, she was going to really help us out.”

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The nonprofit had twice sued Nestle over the company’s water withdrawals in Mecosta County, and Whitmer leveraged the situation to garner support for her campaign. Then something changed.

“She’s basically kind of ignored us for the last six years. Which is sad,” Case said. “I mean, she didn’t ignore us before the election.”

Since Whitmer took office in 2019, at least nine bills have been introduced to make good on her vow to stop or better regulate the massive commercial water withdraws, and exactly zero have gained traction.

Even after Democrats seized control of all branches of Michigan government in 2022, Whitmer’s allies in the Legislature have focused on other priorities, from expanding abortion to restricting lawful gun owners.

“She’s done some good work, but there’s so much more to do,” Rep. Rachel Wood, D-Grand Rapids, who sponsored some bills, told ProPublica. She contends Whitmer “has been diverted from the fundamentals” by the pandemic, dam failures, and other issues.

Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia, told the news site she’s hopeful to see future bills in the environmental committee she chairs, but admitted there’s no timeline for that to happen.

“First, she said, the Legislature needs to undo the limits put in place almost two decades ago on the ability of the state’s environmental agency to update water quality rules and standards,” ProPublica reports.

Meanwhile, CCP Gotion is forging ahead with plans to build its 3 million square foot facility in Green Charter Township, which will siphon millions of gallons of water per year from two wells in neighboring Big Rapids Township.

CCP Gotion Vice President Chuck Thelen worked to dispel concerns about the environmental impact from the facility during a panel discussion in late April.

“I’ve heard dozens of speculation topics and scare tactics really designed to make people believe Gotion will destroy the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

“Here’s one I like: We will pump all the water out of the water table. Suck the water, drying up the wells surrounding us. The truth is, our water consumption will be roughly 715,000 gallons per day. That is 50% of the pump capacity that’s at the current wells on the Big Rapids Township property.”

Thelen said he “would assume” such a draw “would be safe for the environment.”