Photo of Erin Mette

Erin Mette

  • Hosted by Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
  • Sponsored by Anonymous, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
  • Service location Detroit, Michigan
  • Law school Wayne State University Law School
  • Issue area Environmental Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Erin worked to protect children in Detroit and Flint from home-based environmental health hazards by providing legal counseling and representation to affected families and advocating for policy that advances environmental justice.

For many residents of Detroit and Flint, their home is a hazard to their health. Home-based environmental health hazards include lead paint on the walls of older homes and lack of access to clean drinking water due to lead contamination and water service shutoffs. Many of the homes that contain environmental health hazards are the homes of children, who are especially vulnerable to the life-long health impacts these hazards cause. Because these hazards disproportionately affect children in low-income communities of color, whose voices have typically been excluded from the process of creating and enforcing the standards meant to prevent such harms, the health impacts pose a significant environmental justice issue that is not being adequately addressed by regulators, policymakers, or the legal community.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Fellowship period, Erin:

  • Drafted a request for a declaratory ruling from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services seeking a moratorium on water shutoffs and a requirement that public water systems restore service to all Michigan residents so that residents could wash their hands regularly and avoid leaving home to access water, critical actions for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus
  • Co-authored a report establishing the legal validity of income-based water rates in Michigan
  • Helped draft an amicus curiae brief in support of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and its defense of the newly revised Lead and Copper Rule, which was challenged by several water systems and municipalities–the rule was upheld in the Michigan Court of Claims
  • In partnership with several community organizations advocating for drinking water quality and water affordability, developed a legal services referral system to more effectively connect with and provide legal services to Detroit residents facing water service shutoffs and water contamination issues

Next Steps

Erin remains at her host organization, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, as a staff attorney. She continues to provide direct legal services, community education, and policy support to address home-based environmental health hazards and other environmental justice issues in Michigan.

Media

Protecting Children from Home-based Environmental Health Hazards

'Natural' choice: Wayne Law graduate is a Fellow at the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center

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