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E-M:/ engler signs deq budget with improvements proposed by mec and added by legislators

Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>

	Governor Engler yesterday signed H.B. 5589, the DEQ budget for 1999.
Although his initial budget proposal offered little change from current
spending, MEC worked with legislators to add a number of environmental
protection and pollution prevention initiatives.
  	At MEC's request, State Rep. Paul Tesanovich (D-L'Anse) proposed two of
the items.  The Legislature okayed the earmarking of $100,000 from the
state's Great Lakes research fund to determine whether current DEQ
pollution standards protect children's health.
	Also approved was $150,000 to require the DEQ to establish data bases
accessible to citizens on trends in air and water pollution and waste
generation and rates of compliance with environmental law in communities.
Numerous studies have shown that such right to know programs stimulate
pollution prevention as industrial plant neighbors work with businesses to
reduce their impact on community health.
	In 1997, Engler vetoed a similar proposal authored by MEC.
	State Rep. Derrick Hale (D-Detroit) also fought for $125,000 to hire two
new environmental conservation officers, initially targeted at policing
laws against illegal dumping of trash in cities.  The state has only 15
such officers to enforce all environmental laws.
	State Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith (D-Ann Arbor) was responsible for several
additional improvements to the DEQ budget.  She won agreement from Senate
leaders to add a requirement to the budget bill drafted by MEC requiring
DEQ to hold hearings on any new proposals to divert Great Lakes water and
to develop a strategy to combat such diversions in the 21st Century.
	But Engler vetoed another proposal by Sen. Smith to put $300,000 into a
new cooperative internship program linking Michigan universities and
businesses, despite a commitment from DEQ to support this proposal.
Students from engineering and other disciplines would staff plant sites and
help the businesses identify pollution prevention opportunities.
Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912

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