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E-M:/ press coverage of saginaw bay settlement

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

Today's coverage of the $28 million settlement of federal and state claims
against General Motors, Saginaw, and Bay City for damage to Saginaw Bay is
an indictment of the Lansing press corps.  If our press continues to feed
pablum developed by spin merchants to the public, how will citizens ever
know the truth?  Here are a few facts conveniently ignored by DEQ and the

1.  The state suit which was settled was filed in 1994 under the polluter
pay law, gutted by the Legislature in 1995.  If today's weaker law were in
place the DEQ, whose management supported the gutting, might never have
been able to bring a state lawsuit.

2.  It was Attorney General Frank Kelley who insisted on bringing the
lawsuit when DEQ management objected.  Unfortunately, because of his recent
surgery, Kelley was unable to attend yesterday's press conference, while
the DEQ Director, who initially opposed the lawsuit, reaped the headlines.

3.  The federal government and Superfund law again served as a backstop for
weak state environmental policies. When DEQ (which was then DNR) balked at
the litigation, the threat of the feds "going it alone" helped hold the
state in line.  But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of
Justice were trampled in the news coverage by gloating DEQ officials.

4.  The DEQ Director is reported as saying that the settlement shows how
alternatives to costly litigation can result in real environmental
benefits.  How, exactly, would this settlement have resulted if the
Attorney General and feds had not threatened a lawsuit?  Lawsuits are what
produced $28 million or more in public benefits.

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

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