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E-M:/ kelley files to overturn deq wetlands decision



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Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>
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Attorney General Frank Kelley today filed a petition in Ingham County
Circuit Court asking that the decision of a DEQ administrative law judge on
a wetlands permit be overturned.

The extraordinary action was taken, Kelley says in the petition, because
the ALJ's "analysis is contrary to any reasonable construction of [the
law], the intent of the statutory scheme, sound public policy, and the
corresponding federal regulations."

The move supports arguments made by environmental groups for the last
several years that the state wetlands program is deteriorating rapidly and
has been skewed to reward developers and permit applicants over resource
protection.  MEC intends to forward Kelley's petition to U.S. EPA Region V
for consideration in its ongoing review of the Michigan wetlands program.
In September MEC, Sierra Club and Lone Tree Council asked EPA to broaden
its review of the Michigan wetlands program.

The petition addresses a permit ordered issued August 12, 1998 by the DEQ
administrative law judge in Chesterfield Township, Macomb County, to fill
12.2 acres of wetland in order to build 112 condominium units.  Incredibly,
the administrative law judge found that housing is a "wetland-dependent"
activity under state law because the developer insisted on building a
100-plus unit complex and there wasn't enough room on the parcel of land to
build such a large project without destroying wetlands.  As Kelley points
out:  "It is not essential that a housing complex be constructed in a
wetland..."

Observers have said that if the ALJ's ruling were permitted to stand, it
would quickly become impossible to deny any permit application if the
applicant wanted to destroy wetlands.  Therefore, Michigan's wetland law
and program would become moot.


Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
davemec@voyager.net
http: www.mienv.org

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