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E-M:/ FW: "See No Evil"



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Enviro-Mich message from Rob Perks <rperks@peer.org>
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MEDIA RELEASE


For Immediate Release
March  30, 1999

Contact: Tom Leonard, Executive Director
  (616) 451-3051
  (616) 451-3054 


WMEAC CALLS FOR STATE REVIEW OF MICHIGAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS

At a meeting of the Board of Directors of West Michigan Environmental
Action
Council held March 17, 1999, the following statement was approved
unanimously:

"In September, 1998, the Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility  (
PEER ) published a white paper entitled "See No Evil:  the Gutting of
Michigan's Wetlands Protections, " documenting political manipulation of
environmental regulation within the Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality.  Among numerous charges made in the report were the following: 

x DEQ upper management openly pressures field staff to back off on
enforcement
cases and ignore wetlands violations.
x Lansing supervisors intervene in cases awaiting trial and overturn
staff-
issued permit denials.
x The administrative split between the DNR and DEQ has effectively
removed
enforcement capability from within the purview of the DEQ.
x Criminal prosecutions for wetlands violations in 1996 dropped to
nearly half
the average number of cases per year between 1991-1995.
x The DEQ'S current developer-friendly, permit-friendly policies have
enabled
elected officials to intervene inappropriately in ongoing enforcement.

"Following upon the wetlands report, PEER released the results of its
survey
of all DEQ employees.  A 41.6% rate of return was documented for this
survey.
Preliminary results of the survey have demonstrated serious concerns
about the
direction the Department has taken.  Most especially the results point
to an
unprecedented unreadiness and incapability on the part of the DEQ to
enforce
Michigan law as it relates to natural resource protection.

"West Michigan Environmental Action Council therefore calls upon the
Michigan
legislature to undertake a complete investigation of all the charges
contained
in the PEER documents, inviting public testimony, in order to identify
what
actions may be necessary to provide assurance to the people of Michigan
that
the state's natural resource protection and conservation goals are being
met.
It further calls upon the legislature to provide guarantees of
protection from
reprisal to any state employee who may come forward with information
pertinent
to its investigation."










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