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E-M:/ Deadline Passes on EPA ultimatum to State

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

News from
Michigan Sierra Club
109 East Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906 Phone (517) 484-2372 Fax (517)

For Immediate Release                                   CONTACT:
Thursday, May 24, 2001                                  Anne Woiwode or Dan

Showdown Begins Over State's Failure to Enforce Clean Water Laws

Michigan Water Program Ignoring Animal Factory Pollution

LANSING - The battle between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
and the State of Michigan was raised to new heights yesterday as the
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) defied an ultimatum from EPA to
fix its water quality program, a program that fails to protect public health
and Michigan's waters from animal factory pollution. The ultimatum was in
response to a petition to EPA to withdraw Michigan's delegated authority
under the Clean Water Act. Sierra Club, Michigan Land Use Institute,
Michigan Environmental Council and Larry and Neva Bailey submitted the
petition in November 1999.

Animal factories concentrate thousands of animals in confined areas creating
as much waste as medium sized cities - only animal factory waste is not
treated.  As a result animal factories can make lakes and rivers unsafe for
human contact, cause fish kills, poison drinking water sources, and breed
antibiotic resistant bacteria.

"Animal factories are polluting Michigan's air and water and threatening our
public health while the state sits back and watches from the sidelines,"
said Anne Woiwode.  "The DEQ's water quality program is a hollow shell that
is designed to protect polluters at the expense of the public."

After 1 1/2 years of investigations, the EPA finally gave Michigan 30 days
to develop a plan to protect Michigan waters from animal factory waste or
have its authority to administer Clean Water laws revoked.  Those 30 days
ended Wednesday, May 23rd. As a result, Michigan could be the first state to
have its authority over clean water laws revoked by the EPA.  Such an action
would have a domino impact on all permittees  including major corporations
like Dow Chemical.

Some of the major failings of the Michigan program include:

    FAILURE TO PREVENT POLLUTION - Instead of preventing pollution before
it enters our environment, the Michigan program depends on citizens to
complain after damage to lakes, rivers and drinking water has occurred,
putting the public in harms way unnecessarily.
    MONITORING SYSTEM FAILING - Despite evidence that Michigan is
witnessing a massive influx of unregulated animal factories into the state,
the DEQ has no inventory to provide statistics on the number or size of the
facilities, thus preventing effective monitoring and enforcement programs.
a voluntary, complaint based system to enforce environmental laws against
animal factory pollution. According to an Environmental Working Group
report, in 2000 Michigan had the third worst enforcement program for clean
water act violations, making voluntary compliance even less defensible.
    IGNORES STATE AND FEDERAL LAW - Both state and federal law require
animal factories operating in Michigan to have permits.  The DEQ refuses to
issue permits because they know that permits provide a framework public
input and awareness of animal factories, for enforcing environmental laws
and assuring public health protections. All Michigan's neighboring states
have committed to come into compliance with federal requirements.

"The DEQ can still choose to adopt an effective Water Program that
emphasizes pollution prevention, strengthened enforcement and monitoring
programs that respect the law by requiring water quality protection permits
for these animal factories," said Woiwode.  "This is the Great Lakes State,
and our citizens deserve an efficient and effective system, not one that
can't monitor, can't enforce and as a result can't prevent pollution. If the
state of Michigan is not up to doing the job and doing it right, maybe its
time to find someone who will."

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