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E-M:/ DEQ Delegates Toxic Cleanup Decisions to Polluters

DEQ Delegates Toxic Cleanup Decisions to Polluters

Public Shut Out of the Process

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) criticized Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Russ Harding for proposing rules that allow polluters to keep secret the fact they have contaminated property.  Further, DEQ’s proposed rules delegate to the polluters virtually all decision-making authority regarding the cleanup of those toxic chemicals.  These rules are not authorized by law, and result in the DEQ completely failing to discharge its duty to protect the public by allowing polluters to make these decisions.

“The action being taken by the DEQ demonstrates their continuing failure to protect the residents of Michigan from the threats of toxic chemicals,” stated James Clift, Policy Director at MEC.  The proposed rules let polluters decide when to cleanup contamination, how to monitor toxic chemicals left in the soil, and when to tell neighboring property owners about contamination in their area.  “These rules are a recipe for disaster because they delegate to parties with a financial interest to skimp on cleanups all decision making authority with no oversight,” stated Clift.

The 340 pages of proposed rules under the Part 201 program are scheduled for only one public hearing, to be held today in Lansing (Forum Auditorium – Michigan Library and Historical Center, from 1-5 pm and 6-8:30 pm).  Representatives of industry received a closed-door meeting with Harding and other DEQ officials last week where they urged the department to further weaken DEQ oversight of cleanup activities.

According to Lana Pollack, president of MEC, these rules take government back 20 years in dealing with pollution issues. “We passed the Superfund legislation at the federal level and Polluter Pay at the state level to bring toxic contamination out of the closet and deal with cleanups it in a responsible manner,” stated Pollack.  “These rules ignore these laws and shut out members of the public who live in neighborhoods bordering these contaminated sites and are directly impacted by the decisions made.”

Submitted by:

James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48915
(517) 487-9539