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E-M:/ Update: Harding Meeting with Industry Group

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

As of Tuesday afternoon the meeting had not been cancelled by the MDEQ.
Keep monitoring environ-mich regarding the public rally scheduled for
Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. at Detroit Metro Airport.

Press release issues earlier today:

For Immediate Release   Contact: MEC - James Clift 517-487-9539
April 25, 2000     EWG - Mike Casey 202-667-6982

Groups Will Try Opening Now-Secret Meeting of Industry Lobbyists and
States' Environmental Officials Targeting Key Clean Air Protections

LANSING, MI - The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and the
Environmental Working Group (EWG) of Washington, DC today demanded the
public be admitted to a meeting on April 27 of top environmental
officials from several states.

The meeting, which had been arranged in secret and is currently closed
to the press and the public, was exposed by the Detroit News and covered
by The Washington Post last week.  According to the news accounts and
meeting planning documents, polluting industry lobbyists originally
planned to attend the meeting which is slated to discuss how to derail
the US Environmental Protection Agency’s current efforts to cut air
pollution from dirty utility plants.

 “If Russ Harding, Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality, wants to work on political campaigns between now and November,
he should take a leave of absence. This looks to me like a thinly
disguised meeting in which utility and industry representatives are
cutting backroom deals on what industry will get in exchange for their
political contribution,” stated Lana Pollack, President of MEC.

The presidential campaign of Texas Governor George W. Bush has denied
any knowledge or involvement in the meeting, despite an earlier
commitment from Governor Bush’s top environmental official, Robert
Huston, to attend.  Mr. Huston or his staff also appear to have
participated on at least one conference call to plan the meeting, and
industry lobbyists supporting the Bush campaign had planned to attend.

The coordinator of the meeting, Russ Harding, Governor John Engler’s top
environmental official, had originally wanted the utility industry to
pay for the meeting, but dropped the idea when officials from other
states suggested he might draw harsh scrutiny from the press for that
financing arrangement.

EWG President Ken Cook invited himself to the meeting and posted
registration materials on the Internet at his organization’s web site,
www.ewg.org.  Cook, Pollack and a film crew will try entering the
meeting room and sitting through the proceedings.

"This is an outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars, and Russ Harding
should come clean about how much of our money he’s spent on this effort
to date," Cook said.  "This entire meeting is geared to promoting the
interests of dirty utility lobbyists at the expense of public health -
even when we know that cutting air pollution saves more in health and
productivity costs than polluting industries spend to clean up their

Prepared by:
James Clift
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48912

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