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E-M:/ Clean Michigan Initiative - HB 4305 - Update



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Enviro-Mich message from James Clift <jamesmec@voyager.net>
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Michigan Environmental Council - Capitol Update

The House of Representative passed HB 4305 the supplemental spending
bill for the Department of Environmental Quality authorizing the next
round of authorized spending from the Clean Michigan Initiative bond
program approved by the voters last November.

MEC was pleased that the committee significantly increased funding for
water cleanup programs (details below) and included the following
changes from the administration recommendations:

Water Quality Monitoring

HB 4305 (H-1) - authorizes the use of 50% bond money and 50% general
fund money to support the water quality monitoring $3,000,000 line
item.  The administration requested $3 million per year from bond money
($45 million over the next fifteen years).  MEC supports the split
between bond money and general funds to support water quality
monitoring.

Public Act 287 of 1998 states that funding for water quality monitoring
will be the first priority for expenditure of money in the fund.
However, the act sets no minimum or maximum spending level for water
quality monitoring as was done for most other programs. The current
language complies with the “first priority” language of PA 287 of 1998
in that it insures water quality monitoring activities are fully funded
in FY 2000.

MEC recognizes that water quality monitoring data is critical to the
operations of many state programs.  MEC’s main objection is that water
quality monitoring is an ongoing responsibility of the department and
thus should be funded by sources other than bond money.   We believe it
is fiscally irresponsible to borrow money for ongoing staffing
responsibilities during good economic times.

This decision will allow an additional $1.5 million of bond money to be
used for cleanup activities as envisioned by the voters.  When voters
were polled on their preference between spending money for water
clean-up activities versus monitoring, cleanup activities were favored
58% to 23% (May 1999).

Clean-up programs

HB 4305 (H-1) includes, and MEC supports, the following funds for
clean-up activities over the next two years:

Contaminated lake and sediment cleanup $5,220,000
Voluntary stormwater permit grants  $3,000,000
Failing on-site septic    $5,000,000
Protecting high-quality   $3,000,000
Illicit storm water connection grants  $5,000,000
RAPs and LAPs implementation grant $5,000,000
Conservation reserve enhancement  $3,000,000
Abandoned well management grants  $1,200,000
Volunteer river, stream cleanup  $   100,000
Sub-total      $30,520,000

On the floor of the House, Rep. Callahan offered an amendment that was
adopted to require that the department track all expenditures of the
clean water and non-point source cleanup funding by watershed.
Distributing state funds in a piecemeal approach hurt local efforts to
coordinate activities on a watershed basis. This amendment should
improve coordination of efforts and may give a better indication of
which programs are most effective.

Beach monitoring

MEC member groups have identified the following three questions as the
most important regarding the quality of Michigan's water:
    1) Can I drink the water?
    2) Is it safe to swim in?
    3) Can I feed the fish I caught to my family?

Until now the state has largely ignored #2, pushing that responsibility
onto local units of government.  HB 4305 (H-1) requires the DEQ to begin
monitoring beaches at State Parks and recreation areas and to establish
an internet site to post any required health advisories.  MEC supports
these provisions.  This policy recognizes that when the state grants
public access to a water body it comes with the responsibility to insure
the water is fit for its intended uses.

HB 4305 (H-1) also included $100,000 in matching funds for volunteer
river, stream and creek cleanup program.  MEC believes this program is
important in maintaining public support for clean-up activities.

Pollution prevention

HB 4305 (H-1) includes, and MEC supports, $1 million for household
hazardous waste collection, and $1 million for regional pollution
prevention grants. We believe these were the types of program envisioned
by Michigan voters when they approved the bond money for pollution
prevention.  They assist residents in the disposal of oil-based paints,
solvents, cleaning products and pesticides avoiding the pollution that
would result from improper disposal.  The bill also authorizes $1
million of pollution prevention money for environmental education.

The subcommittee removed the $1.5 million small-engine / lawnmower
trade-in program.  MEC did not believe that the lawnmower program would
have resulted in significant enough emission reductions to justify the
use of bond money.  No program was substituted in place of the small
engine program at this time.

In its place, MEC has advocated for an Energy Bank to make zero-interest
loans available for energy efficiency programs.  These zero-interest
loans would be made available to schools and local units of government
to implement energy efficiency programs.  Funds would be repaid out of
money saved through reduced energy usage.  This program was recommended
by Governor Engler’s Mercury Pollution Prevention Task Force.

The bill includes over $80,000,000 in authorized spending.  In addition
to the programs mentioned above the bill includes:

Environmental Response
Brownfield grants and loans    $13,000,000
Waterfront development     $30,000,000
Sub-total      $43,000,000

Pollution Prevention
Environmental Education   $1,000,000
Household hazardous waste collection $1,000,000
Regional pollution prevention grants  $1,000,000
Retired engineers technical assistance $   500,000
Sub-total     $3,500,000

Administration     $   600,000

The bill has been sent to the Senate, where the Senate Appropriation
Committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday (12/7) at 2:00 pm. MEC
urges Michigan residents to contact their Senators to support the above
decisions so they are not removed from the bill.  It is unclear at this
time whether the  Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on the DEQ will hold
a hearing on the bill. (the subcommittee is chaired by Sen. Loren
Bennett, P:517-373-7350, fax:517-373-9228,
e-mail:senlbennett@senate.state.mi.us).


Prepared by:
James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539



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