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E-M:/ Roadkill Design Award AND Legislature's Greatest "HITS"



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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News from the Sierra Club
300 N. Washington Square, Suite 411, Lansing, MI 48933   Phone: 517/484-2372   F
ax: 517/484-3108

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 22, 1999                       
Contact: Alison Horton or Anne Woiwode   (517) 484-2372

 Legislature Leaves Trail of Environmental Roadkill Behind at Summer Recess
 Sierra Club Responds with Roadkill License Plate Contest

LANSING -- At the State Capitol, today, the Michigan Sierra Club announced the
winners of its Michigan Roadkill License Plate Design contest.  They also
unveiled Greatest "Hits" On Michigan's Legislative Highway: Environmental
Roadkill in the 1999 Legislative Session.  The Sierra Club, collaborating with
the Michigan Environmental Council, identified more than a dozen times in the
first six months of 1999 that this legislature moved to do real harm to the
environment.

"The Legislature has lost touch with what the people of Michigan value,"
charged Alison Horton, director of the Sierra Club's Mackinac Chapter.
"Passage of a roadkill license plate bill while pro-environment legislation
was being bumped off all along the way this session signals just how absurd
and how deeply disappointing the legislature's performance has been."  The
Sierra Club's license plate design contest gave outraged citizens an outlet
for their frustration with the legislature's agenda on the environment.

With the help of Roger the Roadkill Deer, the Sierra Club presented first
prize in the contest to Bob and Joyce Woolever of Au Gres and Honorable
Mention to Thom Peterson of Grand Haven for their colorful, if unappealing,
entries for a new states peciality plate design.

The Sierra Club contest and the entries submitted by contestants were a
commentary on the deplorable track record of the 1999 Michigan Legislature on
environmental and conservation issues.  "Somehow the State House saw fit to
pass 85 to 18 a bill to establish a special license plate to fund roadkill
cleanup on our highways while the Legislature turned its back in vote after
vote and committee after committee on protection of wildlife and natural
areas, cleanup of dirty lakes and dirty air, and the funding citizens wanted
when they voted for the Clean Michigan Initiative last year," observed Sierra
Club's Horton.

"It's a travesty, asking Michiganders for extra money to shovel up roadkill
while special license plate proposals to protect our natural heritage and for
clean water go nowhere in this legislature," commented Anne Woiwode, program
director.  "We are calling on legislators to listen carefully to the
environmental concerns of their constituents while they are at home this
summer.  When they return to Lansing in September they need to clean up their
act on the environment."

For instance, they have yet to find a dollar of the new environmental bond
money to appropriate for clean up of Lake St. Clair.  They gave the timber
industry priority among all the other users of our state forests.  They
refused to take steps to assure that health warning about eating fish are
properly distributed with fishing licenses.  (A list of 15 assaults on the
environment launched in the 1999 legislature to date is attached.)

"Removing roadkill from our highways, like fixing potholes, is a basic
service taxpayers should be able to expect from their state," observed Sierra
Club's Roadkill Roger.  "When people buy a special piece of Michigan's future,
they deserve to be investing in a future where open space is not all lost to
sprawl, where wildlife has a place to live, where forests are healthy, where
the air and water are clean and fresh.  You would think the Michigan
Legislature could do better than this."

The winning contestants in the Sierra Club's roadkill plate contest will
receive a copy of the Michigan Roadkill Cookbook and the tire-treaded T-shirt
off the back of Roger the Roadkill Deer.  The Sierra Club's Mackinac Chapter,
with over 16,000 members in Michigan is committed to protecting our
environment for our families and for our future -- and to holding our public
officials accountable for environmental stewardship.

####


GREATEST "HITS" ON MICHIGAN'S LEGISLATIVE HIGHWAY: ENVIRONMENTAL ROADKILL IN
THE 1999 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$10,000,000 FOR FURNITURE -- $ 0 FOR LAKE ST. CLAIR Michigan Legislators will
enjoy brand new office furniture when they move into the new Legislative
offices later this year as a result of a supplemental appropriation (HB
4075),  but they didn't have time to appropriate any funds from the voter
supported Clean Michigan Initiative (HB 4065) to go to clean-up of Lake St.
Clair or any other Michigan waterways.  With the first beach closings of the
season already behind us, Michigan citizens can stand on the shoreline
pondering that the Legislature is poised to approve funds to monitor
contamination so we will know just how much clean up is needed but not being
done.

STATE FORESTS OR STATE TREE FARMS?  For the third year in a row, the Michigan
Legislature put the timber industry ahead of all other forest users by
mandating a minimum level of timber to be marked for timber harvest (855,000
cords in FY 2000) on our State Forests in the Department of Natural Resources
appropriations bill (SB 370). While throwing a bone to those concerned about
wildlife and recreation in the forests, the budget won't have the needed
funding to make sure the mandated timber levels aren't hurting other forest
uses.  This mandated level is suited to help keep the deer numbers at
abnormally high levels so that the taking of deer with trucks, cars and other
vehicles will continue to be a major pastime on Michigan roadways.

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS TRUMP HABITAT PROTECTION Senator Loren Bennett
evidently concluded that the Michigan Natural Features Inventory was doing
too aggressive a job of trying to protect rare and sensitive species when a
major contributor to the Senator's campaigns had his permits to build a golf
course brought under scrutiny for threatened and endangered species. Senator
Bennett pushed through amendments in the Senate to the Department of
Environmental Quality appropriations bill (SB 364) and the Department of
Natural Resources appropriations bill (SB 370) which threatened the survival
of the program.  House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Representative
William Byl and the members of his committee brought reason back into the
discussion in the House, and in the end prevailed with a common sense
resolution of concerns.

DEQ LUST LAXITY LEADS TO LEGALIZED LEAKS IN LAKES There is more than one way
for an agency to correct it's failure to properly implement laws, as the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality taught us this year.  The DEQ
erred a few years ago in their understanding of a law that allowed the flow
of contaminated groundwater into lakes and streams without Clean Water Act
permits.  DEQ employees thought that meant gasoline from leaking underground
storage tanks (LUST) could also flow freely into lakes and streams without
any permits as well.  Instead of asking for funding for enforcement to
correct this error, the DEQ asked that the law be "fixed" to make their
failure to enforce the law the new standard (HB 4471).

DIRTY AIR GETS THE VOTE OF THE HOUSE Maybe if the five straight days of
violations of the smog standard in most Michigan cities in the Lower
Peninsula had happened BEFORE the vote, Michigan Legislators would have voted
the other way.  As it was, on June 1st 78 members of the House decided to
support a resolution opposing the implementation of federal air quality
standards designed to reduce emissions of smog causing air pollutants.

HOUSE SAYS DON'T TELL ANGLERS AND FAMILIES ABOUT TOXIC FISH When an editor for
the Detroit Free Press wrote about visiting six stores where fishing permits
are sold and only one of them giving her the required public health
advisories on eating and preparing fish, Representative Laura Baird thought
the Legislature needed to provide clear direction that fish advisories must be
d istributed to anglers by vendors of fishing permits. The requirement would
cost nothing, and the DNR would conduct random audits to see how well
compliance was occurring. While half of her colleagues agreed, the Baird
amendment to the DNR Appropriation bill (SB 370) failed by one vote to become
part of the law.

BUSINESS SAYS PUBLIC CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT Senator Ken
Sikkema proposed that the Department of Environmental Quality be required to
annually report on the status and trends related to the State's environment
and natural resources (SB 462).  Representatives of the business community
considered this legislation potentially dangerous, saying that members of
public who had access to such information could not be trusted to use the
information without causing hysteria.

HOUSE GIVES OIL INDUSTRY THE ONLY WORD ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE Maybe
Representative Larry DeVuyst, chairman of the House Conservation and Outdoor
Recreation Committee didn't notice those five individuals who had submitted
cards to testify in opposition to HR 98, a resolution asking the US Senate not
to support implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.
After allowing the representative of the American Petroleum Institute to
speak on behalf of the DEQ, the Chairman dispensed with following the Open
Meetings Act and moved immediately to a vote of the committee on the
resolution without allowing the opponents to speak. Among those blocked from
speaking were members of the faith community who had traveled from throughout
the state specifically to attend the hearing.

LONE RANGER GUARDING MICHIGAN FROM OUT OF STATE WASTE Representative Liz
Brater proposed an amendment to the Department of Environmental Quality
appropriations bill (SB 364) to put eight Conservation Officers on staff to
police the out of state waste being imported into Michigan.  Her amendment
was downsized, giving just one full-time-equivalent DEQ CO to police all of
Michigan's borders for violations on our laws regarding out of state waste.

TOO CHEAP TO ADOPT*A*STREAM What do you do with a very popular  program that
doesn't cost much and encourages thousands of citizens to participate in
cleaning up our rivers and streams?  If you are the Michigan Legislature you
tube it.  A mere $50,000 cut from the DEQ budget, with ripple effects knocking
out funding for effective voluntary action all over the state.

LEGISLATORS SAY YES TO URBAN SPRAWL!  Representative William Byl proposed that
the Legislature direct the DEQ to consider impacts of grants and technical
assistance on urban redevelopment and existing infrastructure through
boilerplate language in the budget (SB 364).  It was the first, highly
visible policy action on the implications of state spending on land use and if
it had passed, would be the first time "a state agency would have to think
about whether its actions promoted wise land use--or financed expensive
sprawl." (Detroit Free Press editorial, 6/9/99). Instead, bowing to
tremendous pressure from lobbyists for development interests statewide, the
full House dropped the language not once, but twice, as Representative Pan
Godchaux also tried to add the language.

LEGISLATORS JUST SAY NO TO ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE Representative Derrick Hale
proposed that the Legislature direct the DEQ to convene a Task Force on
Environmental Equity and Justice (SB 364).  The purpose would be to determine
if state government environmental policies, permits or other actions unduly
burden economically disadvantaged or low-income communities. Evidently most
House members just don't want to know, because they just said no to this task
force.

MICHIGAN OKAYS MORE TOXIC WASTE INJECTION WELLS Representative Ray Basham
proposed that the state not issue any permits in the next fiscal year to
allow a multi-source commercial hazardous waste disposal well in Michigan (SB
364).  His proposed amendment was shot down, opening the way for a permitting
a well that is expected to receive significant amounts of toxic waste from
out of state.

MICHIGAN'S IMAGE ON THE NATION'S HIGHWAYS: ROADKILL ACCELERATES; NATURAL
HERITAGE AND CLEAN WATER STALLED Your opportunity to buy a license plate that
would partially fund the cleanup of roadkill along Michigan's highways (HB
4081 & 4082) moved one step closer to becoming a reality, while license
plates which would allow Michigan citizens to support grossly underfunded
natural heritage programs (SB 179 & 180) and protect clean water (HB 4163 &
4164, SB 84 & 85) languish in committee this first six months of the 1999
Legislative Session.  Both highway funds and game management funds could go
to remove carcasses from the roadways since state policies to increase the
number of roads and the number of game animals have greatly contributed to
the escalation of roadkill during the last several decades.  At a time when
the Legislature is happy to debate how to give back a "surplus" in our
state's budget, they are forcing environmental interests to fight over
relatively small sources of funds like the specialty license plates to provide
funding to critically underfunded programs.

Prepared by the Mackinac Chapter of the Sierra Club 300 N. Washington Square,
Suite 411 Lansing, MI  48933 (571)-484-2372 June 22, 1999



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