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Engler "Comes Out" as GOP Enviro Hatchet Man

     From Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
     For Immediate Release, 10/9/96
     Contact: Alison Horton or Anne Woiwode 
          (517) 484-2372
Lansing, MI -- In press statements and speeches as a surrogate for Republican
Presidential candidate Bob Dole in the last few days, Governor John Engler of
Michigan has finally dropped the last pretense that he has concerns about
protecting the environment.  While Mr. Dole and the majority of his candidate
surrogates have ducked any mention of the environment, Engler has boldly
become the Republican Party's most outspoken proponent of gutting laws which
for 25 years have cleaned the air, improved water quality and the health of
the Great Lakes, protected National Parks and other public lands, and overall
improved the quality of life in Michigan and for all U.S. citizens.

According to Sierra Club spokesperson Alison Horton "while we deplore his
message and will readily refute all the unbelievable claims Engler is making,
at least it will now be clear to the American public and Michigan citizens
that Governor Engler has no interest whatsoever in securing and building on
the environmental gains of the last quarter century.  Finally, his rhetoric is
matching his record on the environment for the past six years as Governor."

Engler, according to his own press office, will be on tap tonight at the Vice
Presidential debate between incumbent Al Gore and challenger Jack Kemp, to
call attention to Gore's criticism of the automobile industry's environmental
record.  Engler will reportedly draw on Gore's best seller, "Earth in the
Balance" in which the future Vice President called upon the automobile
industry to move beyond the internal combustion engine to less polluting, and
less resource consuming transportation initiatives.  Presumably, Engler will
criticize the Clinton administration's efforts to improve auto efficiency, to
reduce smog producing emissions from automobiles, and other proposals of the
administration.  Engler may well attempt to point to a voluntary pollution
prevention effort his administration has promoted which has produced
negligible results after several years of existence.

In addition, in a report by Detroit Free Press columnist Hugh MacDiarmid
yesterday, the written text of an Engler speech to the Detroit Economic Club
trumpeted President Bill Clinton's supposed "radical and extreme
environmentalism," alleging the administration has "a secret plan to commit
the United States to new, binding international clean air mandates that could
cause global economic chaos."  The language, which evokes the extremism of
the Michigan Militia and other paranoid right-wing groups, was not actually
used in the speech, but its presence in the script of the speech denotes a
new level of radicalism in Engler's anti-environmentalism.

The Sierra Club noted the following examples of Engler administration' s
attack on environmental protection in Michigan:

*    Governor Engler started the job of eliminating public input at the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources by eliminating 19 boards and
commissions, then signed the death knell of public input by creating the
Department of Environmental Quality to handle all regulatory environmental
activities in 1995 out of reach of the one remaining public forum, the
Natural Resources Commission;

*    Governor Engler promoted passage of and signed into law this year the
nation's most drastic "environmental audit privilege" legislation, which gives
immunity from enforcement to known polluters and blocks public access to
information about contamination and pollution.  The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency has raised the possibility of a challenge to this law
because it violates federal law;

*    Governor Engler secretly negotiated a settlement to a lawsuit over oil
and gas rights under Nordhouse Dunes that resulted in a pay out of almost
$100 million and locked into place Appellate and lower court decisions that
open up the public treasury to further, unjustified takings payouts.  The deal
with major contributors to the GOP was forced through the Legislature and is
already resulting in undermining permitting and enforcement of environmental
and zoning laws and stacking up lawsuits;

*    Governor Engler gutted Michigan's Polluter Pay law in 1994, a bill he
supported as he campaigned for Governor in 1990, promising that sources of
funds would be found at the state level to pay for the clean-ups left by
taking responsible parties off the hook.  After attempting and failing last
year to raid the Natural Resources Trust Fund, a constitutionally guaranteed
source of funds for acquisition of recreational and ecologically significant
lands, no major source of funding has yet been found for the program, and as
competing demands for state tax dollars rise it appears many contaminated
sites will remain uncleaned up.