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E-M:/ Deja vu: Env. bonds for reelection boost -Reply



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Enviro-Mich message from Tracy Mehan <MehanG@mail.state.mi.us>
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I am pleased that Anne grants that "...it can be expected that there
is in fact some benefit to the environment from this idea."  In fact,
the half a billion dollars earmarked for environmental bond projects
will yield many benefits.  Looking at those areas with which I am
most familiar, nonpoint source pollution and toxic sediment
remediation, there is much to recommend the proposal to all of you. 
$50 million is aimed at reducing nonpoint source pollution, or
runoff, which readily conceded by most observers to be the single
biggest impairment of water quality today. EPA only allocates 1,7% of
its budget for this important area.  On sediments, the $25 million
earmarked is a hard-number, bottom-up figure designed to move
cleanups in Areas of Concern(AOCs) with Remedial Action Plans(RAPs)
on the Great Lakes and elsewhere in those situations where there is
no liable or potentially responsible party to do the cleanup. 
Polluter pays is still the rule.  I urge your serious consideration
of the proposal.  Thanks.

>>> <anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org>
-
1/25/98
11:02
PM
>>>
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Enviro-Mich
message
from
anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Proposed Bond: What do you think?

The Detroit News today reports a plan that will be announced in the
Gov's
state o' the state (SOS) regarding a $500 million bond for a handful
of
environmental programs.  Since the ever stealthy press manipulators
in the
Governor's office assured that this announcement would come out over
the
weekend to minimize a chance for immediate substantive reactions and
public
discussion (give an exclusive story, tell reporters not to ask for
comments
until Saturday a.m., etc.), I would like to urge the folks on
Enviro-Mich to
offer up their reactions and responses, and open a dialogue on this
issue.
Below are some of my initial thoughts:

Clearly the Governor's handlers know that he is vulnerable on the
environment
in this upcoming election year, and have sorted through the bag of
tricks left
from previous administrations to try to build a false front to last
at least
until November.  As details come out it will be easier to judge the
independent merits of this proposal, and it can be expected that
there is in
fact some benefit to the environment from this idea.

However, this proposal is more than a dollar short, is many years too
late,
and comes on the back of an overall environmental policy structure
that has
been eviscerated by the policies of this would-be election year
environmental
saviour.  It is important for Michigan citizens to recognize that the
seven
years of the Engler Administration to date have witnessed a
relentless
and disturbingly effective campaign to reduce the reality of
environmental
protection in Michigan, and that the success of this effort has
resulted in
collatoral damage to the public's expectations for actually
performing that
protective role.  Thus, while it will clearly be the goal of this
administration that we all do so, we cannot consider such a proposal
anywhere
near being on par with the Quality of Life Bond Issue in the 1980's.

This proposal, at first glance a warmed over, smaller and weaker
version of
what was passed by the voters during the Blanchard administration, is
an
astounding back pedalling job in an administration that for several
years has
done its best to steal every other funding source it could find to
fund the
brownfields clean ups.  In effect, this bond proposal is a long
overdue
admission of the Engler Administration's total failure to find a
funding
source for brownfields clean up after the Governor fought very hard
to take
responsible parties off the hook for the clean up of their own
contaminated
sites. The Engler administration gave industry what it wanted by
gutting the
Polluter Pay law a few years ago, and now, betting on short term
memory loss
of the public, is foisting the price tag onto the unsuspecting
taxpayers,
while packaging it as an innovative strategy.

This proposal will beg to be compared positively with the Quality of
Life Bond
Issue, but let us not forget how much the landscape has been changed
by the
actions of this Governor during the past 10 years.  Substantive
public input
is gone from the agency that will handle this fund -- this Governor
in fact
went to great lengths to wrench the environmental clean up programs
and other
regulatory programs out of an integrated agency and shield them from
public
input.  In addition, with public shut out and the Big Brother
attitude of the
administration that assures that talented, committed staff cannot
speak up
about failures to enforce the law, it is virtually impossible to tell
whether
the application of the funds will be done as a result of political
whim or
independent, objective assessment of both need and alternate sources
of
funding.

It is always good to see that environmental issues are so compelling
that even
the most anti-environmental Governor in Michigan's history feels it
necessary
to throw a bone in this direction. But Governor Engler must be judged
on his
record as a whole, and not just whether his polling numbers are of
concern,
and the political operatives are in patch up mode.

AW


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==============================================================
ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/

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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