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Enviro-Mich message from "Dave Dempsey" <davemec@voyager.net>

Press Release

For immediate release: 		Contact: Jessica V. Revere (202) 265-7337
Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Key Findings & Recommendations Removed

Washington, DC- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) cut
major portions from a staff evaluation of its wetlands mitigation program
prior to publication, according to documents released today by Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  After removing nearly a
third of the report, DEQ published the remainder and issued a press release,
falsely declaring it "is improving its wetlands mitigation program."

"This is the anatomy of a bureaucratic damage control operation," stated
PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch whose organization posted the censored
sections of the report on its web site. "DEQ cannot be serious about
improving its dismal performance in protecting wetlands if it is unwilling
to take an honest look at the dimensions and causes of its problems."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded DEQ a grant to assess how
well it has been able to replace wetlands lost through authorized
development.  Prior to submitting the report to EPA this past February, DEQ
managers cut nearly 20 pages from the 77page report, including key
recommendations for improving the program, such as:

	Deny permits lacking proper documentation rather than issue
"incomplete" or conditional permits;

	Create compliance staff positions to conduct follow-up inspections
and take prompt enforcement action when violations are verified and

	Obtain adequate "financial assurances" or bonds to cover the costs
of promised projects prior to issuing permits.

Even with these changes and despite the glowing agency press release, the
final report was very critical of DEQ performance, concluding that more than
four out of five projects were out of compliance with permits conditions,
nearly three of four wetland mitigations were unsuccessful, and one in seven
promised wetland replacements were not built at all.  Yet, DEQ managers also
chose to remove findings documenting improperly granted permits, the effects
of no performance standards and how new rules are aggravating already severe
staff shortages and three of four mitigation projects receive no follow up
by DEQ regulatory staff after permit issuance.

-- 30 - -

The original staff report, completed in December 2000, was obtained by the
Michigan Environmental Council through a public records request.

Censored portions of the DEQ wetlands report are posted on the PEER web page
at (pdf file): http://www.peer.org/michigan/MI_Wetlands_highlighted.pdf

The censored, final version of the report, "Michigan Wetland Mitigation and
Permit Compliance Study," February 2001, can be found on the DEQ web site
at: http://www.deq.state.mi.us/lwm/grt%5Flakes/wetlands/mitstudy.htm

Dave Dempsey
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
517-487-9539 (phone)
517-487-9541 (fax)

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