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E-M:/ MEC - Capitol Update - 5/7/01

Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Budget – HB 4257

The Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on the MDEQ will hold a hearing on Tuesday, May 8 at 3:00 p.m. to make decisions on what provisions to include the next year’s budget. The MEC is advocating that the following provisions be included:

1) Environmental Enforcement – The House included language that will require the department to prepare a report on the number of inspections conducted and whether those inspection find compliance with Michigan’s environmental laws or not.  A Lansing State Journal editorial on Wednesday (5/2) stated, “This is an extremely reasonable, useful addition to the law. The House has approved such legislation. The Senate should concur.”   The department opposes the language.

2) Children’s Health - A recent study exposed potential health problems for children living in the vicinity of nuclear power plants.  The study showed significant reductions in mortality and cancer incidence for fetuses, infants and small children after nuclear plant closings.  A non-profit agency involved in the study is now trying to expand their database by collecting baby teeth from areas downwind from Michigan facilities.   MEC requests that $40,000 from the Low-level Radioactive Waste Authority be used to solicit the collection of baby teeth from areas surrounding our four reactor sites to assist this research designed to protect children’s health.

3) Raid on Pollution Prevention Money – The MDEQ budget uses $800,000 waste reduction fee revenue for permitting and data processing purposes.  According to statute, waste reduction fee revenue must be used for pollution prevention activities that are designed to reduce the generation and disposal of hazardous waste.

4) Tire-derived fuel – Language has been proposed 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 comprehensive health studies to determine if emissions from facilities were causing damage to public health or natural resources.

Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Budget – HB 4259 - The Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on the MDNR will hold a hearing on Tuesday, May 16 at 3:00 p.m. to make decisions on what provisions to include the next year’s budget.

Department of Transportation (MDOT) – SB 239 -  The House Appropriation Subcommittee on Transportation will be holding another meeting Tuesday (5/8) at 10:30 a.m.  Among other items, MEC is advocating for a pilot program for the use of rubberized asphalt (that utilizes scrap tires).  

The Public Act 51 subcommittee of the Transportation Committee that is exploring how transportation funds are divided will be meeting on Tuesday (5/8) at 1:00 p.m.

House Conversation and Outdoor Recreation Committee  - Aquatic Species Conservation

On Thursday (5/3) the Conservation Committee began hearings on HB 4150 and HB 4151 that codifies current law on aquatic species and grants additional authority to the Natural Resources Commission and Director of the MDNR.  Including in the expanded authority is the ability to regulate the taking of aquatic species, allow catch and release for certain species, and the ability to establish license fees.  Hearings may continue next week.

Any thoughts on this legislation should be forwarded to James Clift, Policy Director at MEC.

House Land Use and Environmental Committee - On Tuesday, (5/8) at 10:30 a.m. the committee will continue work on HB 4028 that allows municipalities to streamline the condemnation of areas of spot blight within their communities.

At 11:30 a.m. they will hold a joint meeting with the house Local Government and Urban Policy Committee for a presentation on land use planning.

Prepared by:

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