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E-M:/ Highway Lobby PAC Contributions

Enviro-Mich message from Patrick Diehl <patmec@voyager.net>

For Immediate Release		Contact:  Lana Pollack 517-487-9539
October 28, 1998				   Alison Horton 517-484-2372

The Highway Lobby Puts Urban Sprawl in the Fast Lane;
Environmentalists call for Campaign Finance Reform

Citing a new study of campaign contributions from Michigan road building
interests, the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and the Sierra Club's
Mackinac Chapter today called for campaign finance reform by the year 2000.
 The environmental organizations' study reported that the Highway Lobby
outspent mass transportation and railroad interests by a ratio of 10 to 1
on Michigan legislative races in the past four years.

"This study reveals one reason why it is so hard to get support for
investment in public transportation and why it's so hard to stop costly
construction projects that lead to urban sprawl," said Lana Pollack,
President of MEC.

A growing coalition of environmentalists, farmers and urban dwellers is
gaining strength in the State Capital but has yet to pass any legislation
that would curb construction of massive new highway projects or eliminate
any of the other taxpayer subsidies of new infrastructure investments for
strip malls and large lot housing developments.

"Instead of focusing exclusively on environmental issues, perhaps we should
be spending more of our energy pushing for campaign finance reform," said
Alison Horton of the Sierra Club.  "With campaigns awash in so much money,
it's no wonder we have to work so hard to make sure that our voices aren't

With contributions totaling $554,775 from the Highway Lobby - in relation
to the $50,490 spent by alternative transportation interests - there is
little chance for a balanced approach to Michigan's transportation needs in
the coming years.  Money was evenly distributed among Republicans and
Democrats, and many of the top recipients were legislators who sit on
transportation committees.  The Highway Lobby also contributed evenly to
soft money accounts; Democrats received $87,335 and Republicans $85,410.

While the environmental groups support fixing and maintaining our current
road system, they cite projects like the recently-started Grand Rapids
South Belt Freeway and the proposed Petoskey Bypass and Traverse City
Bypass as examples of new highway construction that is unnecessary, costly
and environmentally damaging.

The MEC/Sierra Club study did not include political action committees
(PACs) representing construction, engineering, car dealers, oil companies
or auto companies, since they have an indirect interest in road building.
If those PACs were included, tht total would have been much higher.


Patrick Diehl
Associate Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive, Ste. 2A
Lansing, Michigan 48912
(517) 487-9539
(517) 487-9541 fax
e-mail: patmec@voyager.net

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