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E-M:/ deq budget needs fixin'

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

MEC today called today for changes in the proposed year 2000 DEQ budget to
protect water, track out-of-state waste, and safeguard children's health.
The Senate DEQ subcommittee will make decisions on these and other issues
next week.  Concerned citizens may contact committee members Sens. Loren
Bennett, Harry Gast, Walter North, Alma Wheeler Smith, and Ken
Debeaussaert.  Contact information can be found on the MEC website at the
address listed at the end of this message.

Following are our comments on the DEQ proposed budget:

Proposed Environmental Investments
S.B. 364
March 3, 1999

The executive recommendation for DEQ appropriations for fiscal 2000, while
a useful start, lacks several critical elements necessary to protect our
water, track out-of-state solid waste, and guard public health.  MEC
respectfully recommends the following initiatives:

St. Clair River/Lake St. Clair Watershed Initiative: Funding is needed to
assist both St. Clair County and Macomb County to implement water pollution
identification, control, and public health protection programs.  We
recommend $100,000 be made available to each county for a total of
$200,000, for these local water protection efforts.  

Beach Monitoring:  Michigan's beach monitoring programs depend on the
capacity and funding of local health departments.  Matching funding should
be made available from the Surface Water Quality Division to close gaps and
create a statewide public beach monitoring system to protect public health.

Pollution Prevention Assistance:  Several higher education institutions
have agreed to offer internship programs, with low overhead costs, to
conduct P2 audits of small and medium-sized businesses. DEQ agreed to this
initiative in 1998 but it was vetoed.  Funding should come from $300,000
from the waste reduction fee restricted account. Further, the Community
Pollution Prevention Fund created by a 1996 act now has over $50,000
available to make grants to local units of government.  We urge you to
appropriate these monies.

Environmental Ombudsman:  State government has a business ombudsman and DEQ
has a small business clean air ombudsman.  Citizens seeking information on,
or to comment on DEQ permits and rules have no such help.  A $100,000 line
item should be created within the Environmental Assistance Division for an
ombudsman to assist in response to citizen inquiries. 

Environmental Enforcement-Out of State Waste:  There are 20 FTEs in DEQ
environmental enforcement, more than 200 in DNR conservation enforcement.
An increase of six FTES ($420,000) should be appropriated to DEQ's criminal
investigations and earmarked for activities including, but not limited to,
spot checks of out-of-state waste entering Michigan for landfilling, and
wetlands enforcement.
Children's Health Protection:  The Legislature has requested the DEQ review
the adequacy of current pollution standards to protect children's health.
The Governor referred this to the Michigan Environmental Science Board with
a report due June 30, 1999.  The fiscal 1999 earmarking of $100,000 from
the Great Lakes Protection Fund should be continued in fiscal 2000 to
implement the Board's recommendations.

Boilerplate Items: We encourage you to consider boilerplate language for
the following issues:

 Public notice and comment on Great Lakes diversion proposals;
 Implementation by DEQ of the community right to know initiative;
 DEQ development of a list of jurisdictions sending waste to Michigan
whose disposal standards are less stringent than Michigan's;
 Require DEQ to promulgate rules for the $90 million Clean Water Fund
created by Proposal C that provide for funding of diverse water resources
(impaired urban waters, inland lakes, high-quality rivers and streams in
northern Michigan, Lake Superior).

Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912

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