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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>

For Immediate Release                                   	CONTACT:
Thursday, May 3, 2001                                               Anne
Woiwode 517-484-2372
							Conan Smith, MEC 517-487-9549
							Patty Cantrell, MLUI 231-882-4723


LANSING – The United States Environmental Protection Agency has delivered
the State of Michigan a one month notice to cease its defiant refusal to
enforce federal and state clean water laws on concentrated animal feeding
operations (CAFO).  This position comes as a result of a petition by the
Sierra Club, the Michigan Environmental Council, the Michigan Land Use
Institute and two individuals to withdraw the State of Michigan’s authority
to administer clean water laws.

“The EPA’s stance demonstrates what citizens, local governments and
environmental groups have been saying all along - that factory farms pollute
our waters at an alarming rate and need to be environmentally responsible
like everyone else,” said Anne Woiwode, Director of the Michigan Sierra
Club.  “Citizens and local governments have demanded environmental
responsibility from the DEQ for years, but the Engler Administration has
been more interested in protecting polluters than the public.  Today we take
a major step in forcing the State to do its job protecting the environment
and not shielding polluters”

In a letter delivered today (dated April 26th ) the EPA states that problems
with Michigan’s current voluntary system for controlling water pollution
from CAFOs “pose a threat to public health and water quality,” and that
“unpermitted discharges (from CAFOs) have killed fish and caused the State
to declare pollutants in surface water an imminent threat to public health
and welfare.”  The letter states that the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality (MDEQ) “is required to issue NPDES permits to CAFOs,”
and must submit a plan by May 23, 2001 “for CAFO permitting, compliance
evaluation, and enforcement.”

The EPA’s position begins to bring to a peak a major battle between the
environmental groups, citizens and local governments on one hand and the
MDEQ and CAFOs on the other over whether state and federal clean water laws
would be applied to factory farms in Michigan as they are in all other
states.  These laws require CAFOs to have clean water permits.  The groups
have strongly criticized the States replacement of a permit system with a
voluntary system by which the state waits until after water contamination
occurs to take any action, if any. CAFOS store millions of gallons of manure
in open air cesspits and later spread toxic levels of the manure waste on
fields.  Like EPA, Michigan environmental groups believe the self-regulation
system is woefully inadequate for protecting the public health.

The environmental groups and local people promise to continue to push the
State to do its job. “Protecting our water is not voluntary,” said Conan
Smith, Land Programs Director for The Michigan Environmental Council.  “The
MDEQ allowing polluters to determine the quality of our water is

 “We see this as a positive step back to a prudent regulatory approach to
large facilities that have a propensity to pollute water ways, especially
since regulatory authority was taken from local government in 1999, and in
it place were put these ineffective voluntary compliance measures,” said
Dave Maturen Trustee for Brady Twp in Kalamazoo County.

"The public needs legally enforceable water quality permits for livestock
factories just as businesses use contracts to protect their financial
interests," said Patty Cantrell of the Michigan Land Use Institute. "The
state's honor system of voluntary guidelines gives away Michigan's greatest
asset -- water."

Full EPA letter is below:

                                   UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
                                                              REGION 5
                                                   77 WEST JACKSON BOULEVARD
                                                       CHICAGO, IL

                                                     APR 2 6 2MI
Reply to the attention of


Russell J. Harding, Director
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Post Office Box 30473
Lansing, Michigan 48909-7973

Subject: Petitions to Withdraw the Michigan NPDES Program

Dear Mr. Harding.-

Thank you for your October 16, 2000, and March 30, 2001, replies to the
September 15, 2000,
letter from Francis Lyons to you. With the September 2000 letter, the United
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 5, provided an interim report
from our review
of Michigan's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
program for
concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  We are conducting the
review in response to
the petitions several groups of Michigan citizens and two individuals
submitted to EPA in which
they asked us to withdraw the Michigan NPDES program.  The September 2000
letter and
interim report reflect our findings that (1) the Michigan NPDES compliance
evaluation and
enforcement program for CAFOs is seriously lacking in several respects and
(2) Michigan's
NPDES permit application form and procedures do not provide for the
submission of
applications by CAFOs as required by Michigan's administrative rules for
wastewater discharge

We appreciate Michigan's commitment to voluntary approaches for protecting
public health and
water quality from the manure and wastewater generated by animal feeding
operations, as well as
Michigan's practice of responding to discharges from animal feeding
operations after they occur.
EPA supports voluntary approaches for protecting public health and water
quality from the vast
majority of animal feeding operations.  At this writing, we are considering
Michigan's request for
federal grant funds to support a recent enhancement to Michigan's voluntary
approach, the
Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).

Even though we have received your letters, and have participated in several
conversations with
the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) regarding the
findings in the
interim report, we remain concerned that the MDEQ still has not responded to
the findings in the
report and our September 2000 request for a description of the actions MDEQ
has taken or will
take to resolve the problems with its NPDES program for CAFOS.

Problems with the Michigan NPDES program for CAFOs pose a threat to public
health and
water quality.  Manure contains up to 150 pathogens that are a risk to human
health.  In addition,
it is IO to 200 times more potent than treated human sewage in removing
life-giving oxygen from
water.  According to MDEQ's request for a grant to support the MAEAP,
"animal feeding
operations raise significant concerns related to storing and disposing of
manure" and
mismanagement of manure can result in ... significant adverse impacts on
water quality, as well
as public health." These statements are consistent with information
available to EPA, Region 5,
which shows that unpermitted discharges by CAFOs in Michigan have killed
fish and caused the
State to declare the pollutants in surface water an imminent threat to
public health and welfare.
Michigan and interstate waters continue to be at risk of these and other
problems.  For example,
during inspections of five Michigan CAFOs conducted in January of this year,
our inspectors
observed unpermitted discharges at four of the CAFOS. MDEQ participated in
three of the
inspections in which unpermitted discharges were observed, and we provided
information to
MDEQ on the fourth CAFO from which our inspectors observed unpermitted
discharges.  EPA,
Region 5, has taken enforcement action against one of these CAFO dischargers
and is
considering follow-up action for the others.

The fact that EPA has not taken final action on the petitions does not mean
MDEQ should tarry
in resolving the problems described in the interim report.  Furthermore,
while EPA recognizes
that there are ongoing discussions regarding the proposed revisions to the
federal clean water
regulations for CAFOS, MDEQ should not be deterred from aggressively
pursuing the issuance
of NPDES permits to CAFOs that are subject to the existing, 25-year old
regulations.  Under the
Clean Water Act and EPA's 1973 approval of the Michigan NPDES program, MDEQ
is required
to issue NPDES permits, to CAFOS.

By May 23, 2001, please respond in writing to the findings in the interim
report and, more
specifically, with your plans for CAFO permitting, compliance evaluation,
and enforcement
consistent with MDEQ's responsibilities under the Clean Water Act.  When we
receive your
reply, we will be in a better position to determine what course of action to
follow with regard
to the petitions.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter of
vital importance to both
MDEQ and EPA.  We look forward to receiving your reply.

David A. Ulrich
Acting Regional Administrator

cc:    Mr. Daniel Wyant, Michigan Department of Agriculture
       Mr. David Hamilton,Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
       Mr. A. Michael Leffler, Michigan Department of Attomey General
       Ms. Alison Horton, Sierra Club
       Ms. Patty Cantrell, Michigan Land Use Institute
       Ms. Lana Pollack, Michigan Environmental Council
       Dr. and Mrs. Larry Bailey

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