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E-M:/ Env Groups Petition EPA to Remove MI Primacy over Water



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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News Release
Michigan Sierra Club and
Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign

For Immediate Release:
Monday, November 1, 1999

Contact:
Anne Woiwode or Alison Horton, (517) 484-2372
Patty Cantrell, MLUI, (231) 882-4723
Megan Fowler, Sierra Club, (415) 977-5627

Sierra Club and Michigan Groups Call for Action
Michigan Seen as Worst in Nation in Protecting Public from
             Factory Farm Pollution

LANSING   At the State Capitol, today, Michigan environmental groups
were joined by the Sierra Club's National Clean Water Campaign when
they announced that they are petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to revoke the state's authority to administer the Clean Water Act
in Michigan.  The petition was filed in a move to protect Michigan
residents from the growing problem of factory farm pollution.

The Michigan Sierra Club, the Michigan Land Use Institute and the
Michigan Environmental Council took this extraordinary step for three key
reasons:

          One, the Engler Administration is opening Michigan's doors to the
     large factory farm corporations which are shopping for places to
     locate and pollute.  

          Two, Michigan is aggressively campaigning to rally others across
     the country to defy national efforts to address the often catastrophic
     pollution from factory farms.  

          Three, the Administration and the State Legislature are now racing
     to enact S.B. 205 to bar local communities from stepping in to
     prevent factory farm pollution problems, despite the reality that the
     state is running the worst program in the nation for protection of its
     waters and public health from livestock operation pollution.

Sierra Club experts who have witnessed the devastating pollution that
industrial livestock factories have caused in their own states came to
Lansing to urge Michigan to rein in these polluters rather than let them
roam free.  "It is absurd that Michigan would ignore the evidence of this
industry's destructive practices and choose to protect corporate agri-
business instead of Michigan families," said Ken Midkiff, Coordinator of 
Sierra Club's National Clean Water Campaign.

The Michigan Land Use Institute released a report this year, State Opens
Gates, Waterways to Livestock Factories, based on a three-month
investigation by Patty Cantrell, MLUI's economic analyst, which revealed a
"clear pattern of pollution, harm to natural resources, and official
neglect..."  Cantrell commented on the need for EPA intervention, "It is the
Engler Administration that has invited the federal government into
Michigan to oversee large livestock operations by refusing to serve
Michigan residents with reasonable regulation of livestock factory
hazards." 

Michigan farmers and communities are already living with factory farm
nightmares according to farmers and township officials who joined the
environmental groups today.

"The Engler Administration and legislators are threatening Michigan with a
pollution nightmare," said Anne Woiwode, program director for
Michigan's Sierra Club.  "Instead of protecting Michigan's rivers, streams
and lakes from livestock waste contamination, the state's politicians are
working to strip the only remaining authority to do so from our
communities." 

Factory farms are creating the largest water pollution crisis in the nation. 
Waste from these livestock factories routinely leaks, spills, and runs off
into our waters.  The EPA estimates that 35,000 miles of rivers are
polluted with livestock waste.  Recently, millions of gallons of livestock
waste merged with floodwaters in North Carolina creating an
environmental catastrophe.

Ten years ago, North Carolina was doing little to protect the public from
these polluters.  As a result, hog operations overran the eastern portion of
the state and have been the cause of massive waste spills, fish kills, and
contaminated drinking water. 

"If Michigan continues to protect corporate agri-business interests over
public health, the state is as good as inviting North Carolina's polluters to
Michigan," warned David Knight, state lobbyist for the North Carolina
Sierra Club.  "After Hurricane Floyd, the governor of North Carolina has
said that flooded out facilities can't rebuild .  They're going to go looking
for a place to land.  Don't let it be Michigan."
      
States like Missouri, Mississippi, and North Carolina have realized the
damage that the industry has caused and they are taking action to prevent
future destruction.  "Michigan should follow suit," Midkiff urged.

The environmental group petition, delivered today to EPA Administrator
Carol Browner, stated that the Michigan DEQ has aggressively resisted
EPA direction to bring polluting facilities under a water pollution (NPDES)
permit; that the Right to Farm Act has improperly limited authority of the
MDEQ to enforce water quality laws; that Michigan is failing in its legal
obligations to prevent discharge of wastes in state waters; that Michigan
has ignored its obligation to provide for public input regarding factory farm
operations; and, that Michigan has failed in its responsibility to inspect and
monitor factory farms.

"The livestock factory industry poses a real risk to our waters and our
public health," concluded Woiwode.  "We believe the Engler
Administration and the Legislature have a responsibility to protect
Michigan residents and our environment.  We are asking the EPA to ensure
that they do."
 
Speaking today at the State Capitol were Ken Midkiff, Coordinator for the
Sierra Club National Clean Water Campaign, from Missouri; David Knight,
State Lobbyist, North Carolina Sierra Club; Louie Miller, Legislative
Director, Mississippi Sierra Club; Patty Cantrell, Economic Analyst,
Michigan Land Use Institute; Dave Maturen, Brady Township official,
Kalamzoo County; Bernadette Fletcher of Ionia City; Jerry Burns, a third
generation farmer; and Anne Woiwode, Program Director, Michigan Sierra
Club.

                        ###





SUMMARY of the EPA Petition submitted by Sierra Club, Michigan Land Use
Institute and Michigan Environmental Council on November 1, 1999:

The State of Michigan is failing to meet its obligations under the Clean Water
Act with regard to protecting surface and ground water from contamination
caused by CAFOs. The Administrator of EPA ˘may withdraw program approval when
a State program no longer complies with the requirements of this part, and
the State fails to take corrective action.÷ The following criteria have been
met for withdrawal of MichiganĂs program approval under the federal Clean
Water Act:

Failure of the State to promulgate or enact new authorities when necessary; 

Allegation: The Michigan DEQ has aggressively resisted EPA direction to bring
the Bruinsma Farms, Inc. under a (NPDES) permit.

Action by a State legislature or court striking down or limiting the State
authorities

Allegation: The Michigan Right to Farm Act has improperly limited the
authority of the MDEQ to enforce federal and state water quality laws and
regulations.

Failure to exercise control over activities required to be regulated under
this part, including failure to issue permits

Allegation: The State of Michigan is failing to abide its legal obligation to
prevent discharge of wastes into the surface and ground waters of the State.

Failure to comply with the public participation requirements of this part.

Allegation:  The State of Michigan has ignored its obligations for public
participation in the portion of the program relating to concentrated animal
feeding operations.  In addition, the Michigan Right to Farm Act has a
chilling effect on citizens filing complaints against livestock factories.

Failure to inspect and monitor activities subject to regulation

Allegation: The MDEQ has abrogated its responsibility to inspect and monitor
activities associated with concentrated animal feeding operations that are
subject to regulation.

ADDITIONAL CONCERNS:

Pending State Legislative Action to Remove Local Controls over CAFOs:

The Michigan Legislature is poised to further weaken the last remaining pillar
of regulatory authority over CAFOs in Michigan, local government ordinances,
by adopting Senate Bill 205.


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