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E-M:/ Nordhouse settlement -- New information raises questio



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Friends:  our omnipotent list caretaker suggested we repost this -- sorry for
those who are seeing it again -- Anne Woiwode

To Enviro-mich:  The following press release was put out today by Sierra Club.
Please contact us if you have questions -- The article is not attached but we
can provide it by FAX if you wish to have a copy.



For Immediate Release                   Contact: Alison Horton or Anne Woiwode
Tuesday, May 6, 1997                            517/484-2372

              Sierra Club Calls for Investigation:
 Gross Overvaluation in Michigan's Largest Takings Settlement 
                     Should Not be Ignored

LANSING -- Saying that, as long as there is a higher court to appeal to, no
information is ever irrelevant, the Sierra Club today called for an
investigation of the 1995 Nordhouse Dunes takings settlement with Miller
Brothers Oil Company and other oil development in terests.

Although the Governor's office and the Attorney General's office shrugged off
a newly public report on the value of the possible oil resources under
Nordhouse Dunes in today's Detroit Free Press as irrelevant, taxpayers will
perhaps be more concerned.

In an article to be published Wednesday in the Michigan Sierra Club's
quarterly publication, The Mackinac, the environmental organization calls for
an independent investigation of Gov. Engler's abrupt settlement with the
Miller Brothers and apparent failure to inform the Legislature as a whole of
critical information during the ensuing weeks of lobbying for approval of the
controversial settlement.  "The legislature was being asked to decide whether
to appropriate funds for a settlement that carried a $90 million price tag in
the end or to refuse such an overvalued settlement," commented Alison Horton,
director of Sierra Club's Mackinac Chapter.  "And the door to a Supreme Court
appeal was wide open.  The public des erves to know why that appeal wasn't
made when the lower court ruled based on gross overvaluation."

In a paper presented to a March, 1997 symposium of the Society of
Professional Engineers in Dallas, Texas, experts in oil and gas valuation, who
had analyzed t he value of the mineral rights for the State, raise enormous
questions about the outcome of the lawsuit.  Thomas Stauffer, John Gustavson
and M.R. Silverman found an astronomical overvaluation of the mineral reserves
based on flawed calculations and assumptions.  Their final report went to the
State on September 23, 1995.  On September 25, the Governor signed a
settlement agreement with the principal party in the lawsuit, Miller Brothers,
based on the gross ove rvaluation.

"Today, out-of-control takings lawsuits are looming like a black cloud over
Michigan.  The Minden Bog and the K&K Construction lawsuits are cases in
point," according to Horton. "The Nordhouse Dunes settlement has set the stage
for taxpayer ripoffs and blatant disregard of environmental laws.  An
investigation is long overdue."

An advance copy of the Mackinac article, authored by Anne Woiwode, is
attached (2 pages).  Thomas Stauffer's phone number in Washington, D.C., the
Stauffer pap er,  and extensive background information is available from the
Sierra Club.

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ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"
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