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E-M:/ MEC Capitol Report - October 7, 1999

Enviro-Mich message from James Clift <jamesmec@voyager.net>

October 6, 1999

Action this week:

Environmental Quality Report – The Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality on September 30, 1999 issued its first Environmental Quality
Report designed to give the public a status report on the “progress”
made by the MDEQ to clean up and protect our natural resources.
Unfortunately, the document reads more like promotional material for the
Department than a serious discussion on the state of Michigan's

Although the report documents emission reductions that have occurred
since the 1960s, it is lacking in its discussion of the challenges faced
by the state in the 1990s. For example, the Report uses Toxic Release
Inventory (TRI) data that shows declines in releases to the air and
water, but does not mention that our total generation of toxic waste is
still increasing.  No mention is made of problems such as urban sprawl
and global warming.

MEC believes the report should be a document that articulates the
challenges faced by the residents of Michigan and establishes goals we
should be working to achieve to improve our quality of life. We plan to
provide feedback to the Department to encourage the development of a
more user-friendly report in the future.  We hope to generate a
discussion of appropriate environmental indicators on our web page:
www.mienv.org.  (It will likely take us a week or two to have this up
and running).

The report can be downloaded from the MDEQ web site at:
www.deq.state.mi.us.  Feedback on the report can be sent to MEC (Attn:
Michele Scarborough) or e-mailed us at mec@voyager.net.

SB 462 - The Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs
committee took up SB 462 on Tuesday September 28, 1999 to require the
MDEQ and MDNR to publish a report of environmental Indicators every two
years starting in 2001.  No mention was made of the report that was to
be issued two days later (so much for open government).  MEC supported
the bill but recommended that the department take public comment on
appropriate indicators.  That concept was not included in the bill.  The
bill passed the Senate on October 5, 1999.

Powers of the Attorney General  - House Bills 4905, 4906 and 4924

The House Constitutional Law and Ethics Committee held a hearing on a
series of bills designed to weaken the power of the Attorney General.
House Bills 4905 and 4906 would prohibit the Attorney General from
bringing any action against the state. HB 4924 would render Attorney
General opinions advisory and non-binding on state government.  MEC
submitted public comments opposing all three bills.

Under the current system if any action is taken that may lead to
pollution, impairment, or destruction our natural resources the
Department of Environmental Quality or the Department of Natural
Resources may bring an administrative, civil or criminal proceeding, to
stop such activity.  In addition, the Attorney General may bring an
action directly to protect our natural resources.  We support this dual
system of protection.  However, under HB 4905 and 4906, if a state
department were involved in the action that is bringing about the
destruction of the natural resources, such as issuing a permit, the
Attorney General would be prohibited from taking any action.

MEC believes the Office of the Attorney General should have the right to
fully represent the people of the State of Michigan regardless of who is
a litigant in the matter.   In addition, we think the current system for
issuing opinions is cost effective, avoids unnecessary burdening of the
courts, and has resulted in high quality opinions (upheld 99.7% of the

The Constitution of Michigan makes the Office of the Attorney General an
elected position.  We believe it is inconsistent to recognize the
importance of the position by making it elected on a statewide basis,
then in statute make the office subservient to the Office of the

HB 4280 and HB 4281 – Regulation of Postproduction Costs  - The House
Conservation and Outdoor Recreation on Thursday took testimony on these
bills which include recommended language for postproduction costs in
future leases. They also include some notification requirements
regarding the division of postproduction costs in current leases.

Scheduled for action:

Joint Committee of Senate and House Appropriations – DEQ Subcommittees –
Wednesday, October 13, 1999 at 8:30 am
Room 351 Capitol Bldg.

Clean Michigan Initiative – Executive Recommendations

The administration has released its updated recommendation on Clean
Michigan Initiative bond spending. The recommendations include the first
round of spending for water quality monitoring, water resources
protection and pollution prevention activities. The department has added
an additional $11 million in the areas of voluntary storm water permits,
failing on-site septic systems and protecting high quality waters. This
brings the department total to $28 million on programs designed to
improve water quality in the state.

In addition, its recommendations include further spending for Brownfield
Cleanup and Redevelopment, Waterfront Redevelopment, Contaminated
Sediment Cleanup and Pollution Prevention.   MEC will still be raising
concerns regarding using borrowed money for water quality monitoring and
pollution prevention funds for lawnmower replacement and environmental

Prepared by:

James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539

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