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Debbie's Blog

Dingell Update: 08.08.2023

Dear Friend,
Congress is out for August and I just finished the first whole week at home. Just been getting around, visiting facilities and businesses in the district, participating in meetings, digging into issues like utilities, power outages, the environment, veterans, guns, river dams, caregiving, and more. Celebrated National Night Out in multiple communities, hosted formal Congress in Your Communities, and visited the normal farmers markets, summer festivals, picnics, and just being present. Seeing friends, listening to many, understanding what people care about, trying to help where I can, and yes, some smiles and good food too. 
Here are some of the issues I am working on and what I am trying to do.

Power Outages
Well, if you live in the 6th district, there is a good chance you have lost power in the last month. Last week’s storm appeared to be the worst, people were without electricity for days, a restaurant closed in Ann Arbor because they simply couldn’t make it anymore, multiple people asked if we cannot keep their refrigerator running in a storm, or how are they going to charge an electric vehicle. People are simply fed up, and I get it. Where I live, I lost power about six times this year between snow and ice storms, and summer severe thunderstorms. Something does need to be done. It’s simply unacceptable that businesses, families, seniors, and so many others are struggling. Fire chiefs are dealing with real danger of fire and damage but cannot get their phones answered by DTE. I call DTE frequently on behalf of many and ask questions. I am very committed to demanding answers, and understanding the why, but more importantly, how this gets fixed and what we can do with policy to address it. 
Last week, I met with ITC, an energy transmission company, to learn more about the importance of transmission and resiliency and how they are protecting their systems. We discussed reliability issues with the power grid and your frustration with constant outages, the importance of increased funding through the Inflation Reduction Act to address these infrastructure and power grid concerns, the development of power grid reliability for the future of mobility, and how ITC works proactively to address outages, and more. I also have spoken with the Michigan Public Service Commission about holding Public Service Commission hearings so people can tell them directly what is happening and how they are being impacted. I have also spoken about DTE coming into communities and answering questions. This is one of the most important issues I am addressing right now. If you have a story you want to share, please do. And I commit to you that this is an issue I am staying on every day.

Climate Change and Extreme Heat
When we talk about weather, you cannot ignore the fact that our country and our world is experiencing extreme, first of its kind, heat. The climate is increasingly becoming more and more impactful to humans, animals, and all kinds of wildlife alike. This summer is breaking heat records across the board, but Republicans continue to attack the historic climate investments included in the Inflation Reduction Act. Between sweltering heat across the southern hemisphere of the United States, rising temperatures in our oceans, and devastating storms across the country, this is no longer an issue in the background. We must act now, or we risk losing so much of what we have worked to protect through efforts like the Endangered Species Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and much more. 
We are also in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, which is made worse by climate change, that’s threatening the future of some of America’s most treasured species. A report has recently found that 49% of bird species worldwide have declining populations, and monarch butterflies have declined 85% in two decades. This should alarm all of us. We must protect these species for future generations.
Extreme heat is not the only factor. As we discussed already, Michigan has been hit with devastating storms that are impacting communities of all kinds. These storms will continue in frequency and intensity without continued climate policies, and I urge everyone to stay updated with weather advisories and follow instructions to stay as safe as possible. We had more Canadian smoke again which aggravates everyone’s breathing, particularly those with asthma and other lung diseases. 

Veterans and PLEASE NOTE PACT Act Deadline: 8/9/2023

I am spending a lot of time with veterans this month. They need our support. Last week, we held a successful PACT Act town hall and workshop for veterans who may have needed help applying for backdated benefits or clarification on other VA benefits. We urge you to make sure you submit an intent to file by this Wednesday, August 9th, if you believe you were affected by toxic substance exposure.
I have met with veterans throughout my district and listened to their stories. I’ve seen men and women who have sacrificed so much and shown immense courage and bravery be reduced to tears out of desperation, pain, and hopelessness. We couldn't wait another second to deliver on our promise to care for these veterans when they return home. For more information or to see your qualifications for PACT Act benefits, click here
The VA is here to serve you and your needs, and I encourage you to reach out to my office with any questions regarding how you can receive the care you deserve. Mental health is healthcare, period. And it is our duty to protect and support the brave veterans who did the same for us and our country. And if you know of someone who is in trouble, suffering from PTSD, depressed, frustrated, isolated, or alone, there are many resources we can help connect you to.
Sunday, I joined many Washtenaw veterans who paid tribute to one their fellow members who died by suicide last weekend. This was devastating, heartbreaking news for the community. I actually knew him, and he was loved by his unit and his post. Those there were simply sad, wondered what could have been done, and want to keep anyone else they can from getting to this point. We all need to care about this issue and continue to support those who have supported and protected our country.

Pollution throughout the Sixth District and Letter to EPA Requesting a Status Update on BASF Remediation Efforts

The state of Michigan, and especially the sixth district, has too much experience dealing with harmful pollution. It is something I remain focused on every day. These harmful environmental issues are causing devastating effects to the ground, water, and air in this state. I am working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to bring these pollution sites to the highest priority. But I need you all to keep speaking up. I know that this contamination is impacting different communities in different ways and the way we get them cleaned up is by working together. Here is a status update on some of the bigger ones:
I recently held a community update forum regarding Gelman Plume. This site has needed cleaning up for decades and we are slowly making progress now (too slow for me but we are moving forward.) We should be hearing more from both EPA and EGLE later this year as it relates to the assessment of a National Priorities List designation.
Other issues continue to need our attention. Recently, I sent a letter to the EGLE and the EPA asking them to address chemical pollution from McLouth Steel site. You all have been reporting to me for several months about seeing white-colored leachate along Jefferson Avenue and in Monguagon Creek. I have raised these leachate concerns directly with EGLE and EPA, as you know, but while I appreciate EGLE’s efforts to keep me informed on the McLouth Steel site, I am concerned more attention and focus on this issue is needed. According to a recent report, state of Michigan officials have identified the substance, which was released from this site in March 2023, as calcium hydroxide. State officials have also reported dead fish in the Monguagon Creek and caustic pH levels high enough to cause skin burns. We are continuing to work with the state to protect human health and the surrounding environment and I want answers to how it is going to be addressed. I want action, not more words.
Last Tuesday, I sent a letter to EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore requesting a full status update on the efforts to control contaminated groundwater at the BASF site in Wyandotte. This outreach follows a letter I sent more than a year ago urging escalated enforcement and robust community outreach to protect Downriver residents from contaminated groundwater releases entering the Detroit River. Regarding the long-term barrier wall solution, it is my understanding that EPA has decided to add an additional step in this process and has requested BASF to submit a 60 percent design proposal for EPA’s review. This, it appears, will result in a longer schedule than EPA originally projected as it relates to the design approval process. With these added delays, I have real concerns that construction will not begin this year. While I acknowledge there is no simple solution to this issue and will take time to do right, the time it has taken to finalize a long-term remedy is frustrating and for me, too long.
Protection of the quality of our air, water, and land is a shared priority. I will continue to work with EGLE and EPA jointly to ensure the public is fully informed and protected. To submit a drinking water concern to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, click here. To report an environmental emergency, click here. And as always, please let my office know as well.

National Night Out

Last week, communities throughout the sixth district held National Night Out events to help members of the community come together to meet local law enforcement and emergency response teams. National Night Out is always an important event and I heard lots of honest, engaged conversations about various issues throughout the community. These events matter because they allow people to get to know each other better and understand one another in a very different setting. Relationships matter and they help build trust.

COVID-19 Cases Increasing Nationwide

More people are testing positive for COVID after months of falling cases. We need to be aware, especially those with underlying conditions and other health concerns. Cases are up in the area and Hospitalizations have been increasing across the country since July with the average number of hospitalizations at 6,448, a 12.6% increase in just two weeks. The last thing we need is another surge, so I encourage everyone to stay safe and follow CDC guidelines to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Gun Violence and Domestic Violence

Last week, we witnessed another horrific domestic violence shooting and the death of woman who had asked for a protective order. These cases are always difficult for me because they bring back many memories, and I know what it is like to live with the fear that someone with a gun could use it at any time. I thank the police and EMS for their prompt response to this situation, but domestic violence situations are most dangerous when there’s a gun present. I am fighting for policies to protect survivors from gun violence. And I am very concerned about the pending Supreme Court case that will decide whether individuals subject to domestic violence orders can possess firearms.
Domestic violence is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to address effectively, but there are things that each of us can do to make a difference. Educate yourself: Learn about the signs of domestic violence, the dynamics of abusive relationships, and the available resources for victims.

- Support survivors: If you know someone who is experiencing domestic violence, offer support and let them know they are not alone. Encourage them to seek help from local domestic violence organizations or hotlines. Keep yourself safe, too. Situations can escalate out of control. 
- Listen without judgment: If someone opens up about their experiences, provide a safe and supportive space for them to share. Avoid blaming or judging them, and instead, believe and validate their story.
- Be part of the effort to raise awareness: Use where you are, who you are, and your voice to raise awareness about domestic violence. Share accurate information, debunk myths, and challenge societal norms that contribute to violence and abuse. Take some time to learn about your local organization, since many need help. 
- Volunteer or donate: Support local domestic violence organizations by volunteering your time or donating resources. They provide crucial services such as emergency shelters, counseling, legal assistance, and more, and are very low on resources. If you suspect someone is in immediate danger or at risk of harm, contact emergency services right away. They may be afraid to.

Photos of the Week

There is no shortage of fun during a Michigan summer. Rain doesn’t dampen the spirit and the temperature was perfect last week. From farmers markets (fruits, vegetables, and flowers are bountiful!), car shows, Buy Michigan festivals, Dearborn Homecoming (yes, I went home!), jazz festivals galore, concerts, UAW Local 900 annual picnic, Ann Arbor pride, county fairs, and so much more. I couldn’t be happier to be home. Keep letting me know when you have things I should attend. I am so pleased that many of our paths have crossed, and I hope to see more of you over the next few weeks. Your thoughts are so important to me, and I am thankful for each one of you who engage and share whatever is on your mind. Have a good, safe week! D2

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