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Enviro-Mich message from "Dave Dempsey" <davemec@voyager.net>


In Their Own Words, Citizens from Romulus, Inkster, Cadillac,
Manistee, Green Oak Township Tell Stories of DEQ Abuse of the Environment

For Immediate Release:
April 19, 2001
James Clift, MEC (517) 487-9539
Mary Beth Doyle, Ecology Center
(734) 663-2400

Hundreds of Michigan citizens converged on Lansing today to charge that the
State Department
of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is a renegade agency that protects polluters,
not the public
interest, and should be immediately reformed.

At a citizens hearing across the street from the Capitol building, residents
of communities from
all regions of the state told stories of harm to health and property as a
direct result of DEQ's
refusal to enforce existing law. They cited case after case of DEQ
management's hostility to
public participation in decision-making, and of collusion by the agency with
corporate polluters
and big developers.

Citizens also pointed to quantitative evidence of the rapid deterioration of
environment. Under the watch of five-year DEQ head Russ Harding, Michigan
has suffered:

      A 47% increase in out-of-state solid waste dumped in Michigan, and an
80% increase
      in Canadian waste exports to Michigan last year;

      The near tripling of hazardous waste imports into Michigan since the
early 1990s;

      A 17% increase in toxic emissions from utilities in Michigan from 1998
to 1999;

      A 71% failure rate among developers required by law to create new
wetlands to offset
      wetlands they destroy;

      A four-fold increase since 1998 in the number of monitored polluted
lake and stream
      acres designated as too polluted for designated uses

      A near doubling of the number of monitored lake acres contaminated by
high levels of
      mercury since 1998.

      Citing the overwhelming evidence that the DEQ has failed to protect
either Michigan's
      environment or its citizens, they called upon the Legislature to take
action, demanding
      new laws and legislative hearings to review DEQ behavior. Their reform
agenda for
      DEQ included:

      ·        The replacement of DEQ Director Russell Harding because of
his bias in favor of

      ·        Creation of a citizen panel to govern the DEQ;

      ·        Tougher laws to boost recycling and cut down on dumping of
out-of-state waste in

      ·        A mandate to DEQ to enforce anti-pollution laws vigorously;

      ·        Protection of children’s health as an underlying principle of
all environmental

      ·        Expansion of right-to-know programs to tell the public about
the environmental
         safety of air, rivers and lakes, beaches, and drinking water.

“Russell Harding demonstrated his contempt for the people of Michigan when
he told the
Romulus City Council the DEQ was going to license a hazardous waste
injection well before his
staff had even reviewed the company’s application,” said Romulus resident
R.P. Lilly. “Mr.
Harding is out of touch with what Michigan citizens want – a clean, healthy
environment and an
end to the use of our land as a dumping ground. He needs to be replaced.”

In conjunction with the hearing, citizens groups released a report,
Survivors of the DEQ,
which chronicles new abuses of the environment by DEQ management in
communities across
the state as well as the reform agenda. The third in a series of reports on
DEQ’s failure to
protect the public, the report is available on line at

“The people of this state have had enough of the anti-environmental policies
of the DEQ,” said
Lana Pollack, MEC President. “Their demands for reform will continue to grow
louder. The
Legislature should respond to them and restore Michigan’s tradition of

Groups signing on to the report included MEC, Sierra Club, Ecology Center,
Tree Council, Environmental Health Watch, Detroiters Working for
Environmental Justice,
Friends of the Detroit River, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition,
Clean Water Action,
Lake Michigan Federation, League of Conservation Voters Ed. Fund, HEAT,
Michigan Land
Use Institute, RECAP, Cadillac Area Citizens for Clean Air, MCATS, and
Sisters of St.
Joseph Peace and Justice Office.

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