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Re: E-M:/ Everybody look what's going down



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Enviro-Mich message from "David Zaber" <dzaber@chorus.net>
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Folks,

Janis wrote:

"I understand that the "necessity" decision (that a project is needed) MAY
preceed an environmental analysis, but the project itself cannot; under HB
4806, any petitioned project MUST conduct an environmental assessment, must
minimize (and the word "mitigate" is to be added as a cleanup amendment
next week) environmental impacts.  Sure is better than the process we have
today, which is NO ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AT ALL!"

Response:

But by the time the project is proposed, the time period for public appeal
is over.  Not only is 14 day window for appeal totally inadequate for
projects that can be as large as construction of a new drain , but the
window
closes before one has any substantive knowledge of the issues associated
with
a specific project.  Why? Because the environmental assessment is the
location for information related to the project's environmental impacts.
Without the information that should be contained in an EA, the public really
has no options for review of the data that drain commissioners and drain
boards use in their decision.  Issuing the EA after all opportunities for
public challenge via the administrative process are exhausted is contrary to
sound public decision-making and sets a seriously flawed precedent for other
destructive activities.

This precedent alone outweighs the benefits of a requirement for an
environmental assessment.  Particularly since there is no guidance for
preparation of the EA (i.e. like the Federal National Environmental Policy
Act -NEPA).


"Mitigate" is also questionable when it comes to the impacts of drainage.
Really, how does one mitigate for the dewatering of a remnant black spruce
bog near Stockbridge, MI? Or the extreme flow regimes that follow
channelization and drainage?  After all, dewatering and drainage means a
fundimental change in one of the most basic ecological processes that can
affect a piece of land.  The point here is that you really cannot mitigate
the adverse ecological affects that occur with a large proportion of the
activities allowed under the bill.  Even if mitigation is required, the
public - those who must bear the economic and ecological costs of bad
projects - has no administrative recourse to ensure that mitigation actions
are taken and will be effective.

Forcing taxpayers to pay for drainage twice, once via any assessments they
may be levied for a project and again because the public's lands must also
pay for projects.  This taxation "double jeopardy" accompanies the very real
incentive for projects that begin the subdivision and sprawl cycle already
seriously damaging ecosystem health throughout the state.

While there are a few benefits of the proposed bill over the status quo,
they are simply far short of what is necessary to effectively manage
Michigan's "drains".   And again we should remember, for Ms. Bobrin and a
few other Drain Commissioners, the need for ongoing and meaningful public
participation and oversight is not as great as it is for the majority of the
state's Drain Commissioners.  However, for those Drain Commissioners who
don't know the difference between a Unit Hydrograph and a Unicorn, or those
who couldn't care less, the need for enforcable mechanisms of public
involvement is paramount.  Particularly in a state like Michigan where
political and governmental conservation leadership has largely been lost.

Remember what William Jennings Bryan, an anticorporate Democrat endorsed by
the Populists who lost the presidential election to William McKinley, the
Republican nominee, who outspent his rival by more than 10 to 1 said in
1896, "One of the most important duties of government is to put rings in the
noses of hogs."  Unfortunately, this bill only has a ring for the public's
sniffers.


David J. Zaber
dzaber@chorus.net

(p.s. thanks to today's New York Times op-ed page for the WJB information)

----- Original Message -----
From: Janis Bobrin <jbobrin@Bizserve.com>
To: Julie Stoneman <juliemec@voyager.net>
Cc: <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Sent: Saturday, December 04, 1999 10:55 AM
Subject: Re: E-M:/ Everybody look what's going down


> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from jbobrin@bizserve.com (Janis Bobrin)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>  I understand that the "necessity" decision (that a project is needed) MAY
> preceed an environmental analysis, but the project itself cannot; under HB
> 4806, any petitioned project MUST conduct an environmental assessment,
must
> minimize (and the word "mitigate" is to be added as a cleanup amendment
> next week) environmental impacts.  Sure is better than the process we have
> today, which is NO ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AT ALL!
>
>   We're throwing away some great progress by looking for all or nothing.
> Remember, the alternative to this bill is not a better one; it's the
> current Code of 1956, which will stay in place for a long time---given
> current legislature and gov.----if we let this chance slip by.
>
> And, we do not HAVE to wait another 40 yrs. to look at the code again; I
> say, let's take the advances offered in HB4803, and go for more asap.
>
> Terry Lodge's suggestion---read it for yourself---is a great one.  But
also
> be sure to read the CURRENT LAW.  I think the improvements, though perhaps
> not all we would wish, are dramatic.
>
>
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