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E-M:/ environmental action in the legislature



In an otherwise quiet week, the Legislature tackled two environmental
issues, both on Wednesday.

The Senate rejected on a 14-22 vote (but individual votes were not
recorded) a resolution offered by Sen. Loren Bennett to urge the EPA to
deny approval for PCB disposal in a Van Buren Township landfill.
Representatives of the firm owning the landfill lobbied furiously against
the resolution (SR 43).  Sen. Alma Smith amended the resolution also to
urge the DEQ to deny its approval, pointing out that Director Russell
Harding has actively advocated the disposal of PCBs at the site.

The House Conservation, Environment and Recreation Committee approved a
bill to regulate the land application of municipal sewage sludge on
Michigan agricultural lands.  S.B. 140 comes up for a vote in the full
House next week.  The bill would enable Michigan to assume primary
authority for regulation and oversight of sewage sludge application on
farms.  Proponents argue that the disposal takes place now with little or
no oversight and the bill would provide necessary funds and staff to
increase protection.  Concerned environmental groups argue that unsafe
levels of toxic metals and perhaps some organic chemicals may enter the
food chain or penetrate groundwater and increase public hazards.  They
argue for greater testing of the sludge and labeling of food grown on farms
where sludge is land applied. An amendment by Rep. Liz Brater to require
such labeling attracted only three votes in the Committee.



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