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E-M:/ MEC - Capitol Update - DEQ Budget

The Senate Appropriation Subcommittee has scheduled its first meeting on the Department of Environmental Quality budget for fiscal year 2001-2002 for Tuesday, April 24, at 3:00 p.m.  The hearing will take place in the Senate Appropriation Room located on the 3rd floor of the Capitol Building.  The Committee has scheduled an overview of the budget for that day and public testimony.  The budget started in the House and is now in its second chamber.  A copy of the latest version can be obtained at:

The Michigan Environmental Council is raising the following issues in the budget discussions:

1. Environmental Enforcement - The House included language that requires the department to prepare a report on the number of inspections conducted under certain programs and the compliance rate discovered in those inspections. (actual language appears at the end of this message - Sec 1103).   We encourage people to contact the committee members urging that they retain that language in the final budget proposal.  The reasons we think this is important are:

· Basic problem: The department cannot tell us for any of their programs the rate of compliance of our environmental laws.

· The department is admitting that they do not track on a division-wide basis the results of environmental enforcement inspections.  Without data on the number and nature of environmental violation, the legislature cannot make intelligent decisions regarding to how to allocate funds among the various functions of the department.

· In this time of term-limited legislatures we must do a better job at making sure the department gathers and reports data on a more systematic basis so that future legislators can track trends and determine the best way to allocate resources.

· This department is suffering from a credibility problem.  A good portion of the residents of the State of Michigan question whether this department is protecting them from pollution and other environmental harms - this report will help answer that question.

2. Tire Derived Fuel - We have proposed language to place a one-year moratorium on the issuance of new permits to burn tire-derived fuel.  During the one-year period the department would conduct health studies to determine if emissions from facilities were causing damage to public health or natural resources.

3. Health impacts from nuclear power plants - A recent health study has exposed potential problems for residents leaving in the vicinity of nuclear power plant.  The study was conducted by Joseph Mangano, an epidemiologist at the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP), a non-profit research group in New York City. ("Improvements in local infant health after nuclear power reactor closing" was published in Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology (2000, 2, 32-36), a professional, peer-reviewed research journal). The study showed significant reductions in mortality and cancer incidence for fetuses, infants and small children after nuclear plant closings.   The "Tooth Fairy Project" of the RPHP is the first ever to address the health effects of in-body radioactivity near nuclear power reactors.  Mangano's findings make clear the importance of collecting and analyzing baby teeth from Michigan counties near nuclear power reactors.  The presence of  strontium-90 (Sr-90) in the teeth of Michigan children would help determine whether radioactivity is connected to the health patterns Mangano has identified.  We will be seeking funds of help support these efforts.

The members of the Senate Appropriation Environmental Quality Subcommittee are:

Senator Loren Bennett, chair
Senator Harry Gast
Senator Walter North
Senator Alma Smith
Senator Ken DeBeaussaert

There address is:

P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Environmental enforcement language:

Sec. 1103. With funds appropriated in part 1, the department shall prepare a report for environmental enforcement programs including air and water emissions of pollutants, waste treatment storage and disposal, waste transportation, and land and water management for fiscal year 2000-2001. This report shall include the following data for each program: the number of permit holders and facilities, the number of permit applications received and granted, the number of received complaints, the number of on-site inspections, the number of inspections that discovered noncompliance with environmental protection laws and the nature of the violations discovered, and the number of conducted criminal investigations. This report shall be submitted to the senate and house appropriation subcommittees on environmental quality on November 30, 2001, and an updated report on September 30, 2002.

Prepared by:

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