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E-M:/ Tour de Manure - Animal Factory Invasion of MI



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Enviro-Mich message from "Daniel Farough" <daniel.farough@sierraclub.org>
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Folks,

Thought I would post the press release from Saturday's Tour de Manure down
in Lenawee County, near Hudson.  The event was extremely well attended with
nearly 100 people giving up their Saturday to learn about the animal factory
invasion of Michigan and its environmental and public health impacts.  The
Detroit Free press ran a good commentary by Barbara Arrigo in the Saturday
edition.  Other stories can be found on Friday's MPR morning and evening
broadcasts and in papers around the state.

The local group we worked with, (ECCSCM) Environmentally Concerned Citizens
of South Central Michigan did a great job helping to organize the event and
in demonstrating the horribly destructive impact of unregulated animal
factories on Michigan's communities and environment.  Special thanks to
speakers Dave Dempsey, Liz Brater, State Representative Chris Kolb, John
Klein, Dr. Leland Wolf, and dozens of citizens for telling their own
stories.  Also, thanks to Judy Shazer, Lynn Henning and Janet Kaufman for so
much of the organizing work.

-Dan


Michigan Sierra Club
News Release
109 East Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906 – Ph: 517/484-2372 – Fax
517/484-3108


For Immediate Release:					Contact:
Saturday, June 2, 2001 					Anne Woiwode or
Dan Farough, Sierra Club (517) 484-2372

WHAT IS GOING ON IN RURAL MICHIGAN?

Tour Examines Impact of Animal Factory Invasion on Environment, Public
Health

STATE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCEMENT FAILURE

The Sierra Club and the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central
Michigan (ECCSCM) hosted a Tour de Manure of rural Lenawee County to
demonstrate the enormous environmental and public health damage that an
animal factory invasion is having on Michigan’s waters and communities.  The
60 plus participants saw damaged lakes and rivers and abandoned homes and
visited longtime community members who say it has become impossible to be
outside at certain times due to burning vapors from heavy concentration of
animal waste.

Animal factories are a known problem throughout the country and a growing
problem in Michigan because they concentrate thousands of animals in a
confined location, producing as much waste as medium sized cities, but
without public health regulations that cities obey.  As a result enormous
amounts of waste are being generated that are making lakes and rivers unsafe
for human contact, threatening drinking water sources, polluting the air and
lowering property values.  “The problem animal factories are causing in
Michigan is not diminishing, but growing,” said John Klein, President of
ECCSCM.  “Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties are the tip of the ice berg of a
looming
problem in Michigan unless action is taken immediately.”  The tour guides
presented numerous materials documenting enormous manure spills of up to 12
million gallons and contamination levels in nearby waterways reaching 130
times what is safe for human contact.  ECCSCM formed two years ago as a
result of this growing problem.

Environmental organizations like the Sierra Club contend that the State of
Michigan is inviting Animal Factories or “Mega Farms” as they are sometimes
called, by not enforcing environmental laws and by stripping local
governments of their power to protect community members from the harmful
impacts of animal factories.  “The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA)
and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) enforcement of
the Clean Water Act has been poor at best.  Meanwhile these animal factories
will continue to severely jeopardize our lakes, rivers and our quality of

life,” said Klein.“  “Animal factories profit by pollution,” said Dan
Farough, Public Education Coordinator for the Sierra Club. “They shop around
for states with the weakest environmental and public health protections and
Michigan is rolling out the red carpet.”

The State of Michigan’s refusal to enforce environmental laws, like the
Clean Water Act which requires animal factories to have permits has prompted
the Sierra Club, The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), the Michigan Land
Use Institute (MLUI) and other citizens to file a petition to EPA to
withdraw Michigan’s power to oversee clean water laws.  This action would
have far reaching impact for discharges to Michigan’s waters, including
companies like Dow Chemical.  “The State has failed to protect Michigan’s
waters and communities from pollution,” said Dave Dempsey, Policy Advisor
with MEC.  “Michigan either needs to get serious about protecting people's
health and waters or let EPA do the job.”

The groups predict that more and more groups, like ECCSCM will form as the
real world failure of DEQ policies are felt.    “My family has lived here
for seven generations and its time to fight back,” said Dr. Leland Wolf a
resident who was forced to abandon his home due to concerns of pollution
from a nearby animal factory.  “My children left their school, we left our
church and community all because the state won’t do it’s job.  When I return
I feel sadness for those who remain.”

As a result of the petition, the EPA has concluded a two-year study of the
Michigan program and found it “severely lacking” and “pose a serious threat
to public health and water quality.”  The EPA gave the State a 30-day
ultimatum to develop plans for animal factory permitting and enforcement.
The deadline passed on May 23rd, creating a showdown between the two
agencies.  In the meantime people like those in Lenawee County continue to
be caught in the middle and pay the price of damaged watersheds,
deteriorating air quality and abandoned homes.  “The important thing is that
the job of protecting communities from pollution gets done,” said Farough.
“The DEQ needs to come out of its ivory tower in Lansing and take action or
get out the way and let someone else do the job.”

The tour in Lenawee is part of a larger effort on the part of environmental
groups to educate the public on the growing environmental and public health
threats of animal factories.  Please contact the Sierra Club at 517-484-2372
or ECCSCM at 517-448-4973 for more information.

###





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