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E-M:/ good news on the right to know

Enviro-Mich message from davemec@sojourn.com (Dave Dempsey)

The Legislature appropriated $250,000 in special funding sought by
environmental groups as part of the 1997-1998 budget for the Department of
Environmental Quality that is now on Governor Engler's desk.  The money is
earmarked to staff a program and provide increased, meaningful information
to the public from both the federal Toxic Release Inventory and the state's
annual wastewater reporting program under the Critical Materials Register.
DEQ suspended reporting under the state program last year because it
eliminated the one staff position assigned to the program.  But experience
with the federal TRI program has demonstrated that disclosure of pollution
releases is an effective spur for industrial pollution prevention.  The
state program covers many materials not reported through TRI, and requires
reporting of some persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals like mercury
at levels missed by the federal law.  Senators Alma Wheeler Smith and
George McManus crafted the funding item.

Also in the DEQ budget bill (S.B. 167):

*       $250,000 for research on the exposure of Michigan citizens to
endocrine-disrupting compounds;

*       First-time funding for community drinking water protection through
such initiatives as wellhead protection and source water assessments;

*       $100,000 in grants for river and stream cleanup projects by local
organizations (sponsored by Rep. Bob Brown);

*       A centralized tracking system for citizen complaints on oil and gas
and wetlands permit violations;

*       $500,000 for water quality monitoring, including $250,000 for local
projects. Proposed by the Governor in his initial budget recommendation,
this helps respond to environmental groups' call for restoration of cuts
that left the DEQ, in the Auditor General's words, unable to tell whether
water quality is improving or deteriorating.

*       A required report by the DEQ on how it is complying with the
Freedom of Information Act.

These initiatives will help protect children's health, strengthen the
public's right to know, and ultimately reduce pollution.  Citizens should
encourage the Governor to sign S.B. 167 and approve these items.  His
e-mail address:  "migov@mail.state.mi.us".

Dave Dempsey
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
(517) 487-9539
(517) 487-9541 (fax)

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