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E-M:/ Healthy Schools Bill



Environmental Groups Support Healthy Schools Bill

DETROIT, MI-Nine environmental organizations joined Rep. Belda Garza,
D-Detroit, today in announcing support for a Healthy Schools bill that for
the first time regulates the construction of Michigan school buildings on
contaminated and polluted land. 

Garza's legislation, HB 5320, would prevent new Michigan schools from being
built on contaminated property and establish regulatory standards for
existing schools already constructed on contaminated land.  At present there
are no monitoring requirements to ensure school children are not exposed to
contamination in the soil and air.

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and eight other organizations
endorsed Garza's bill, resulting from concerns surrounding the construction
of Beard Elementary School in southwest Detroit, during a press conference
in southwest Detroit.  

Lana Pollack, president of MEC, citing concern over potential neurological
and developmental damage to children, said students in Michigan's poorest
neighborhoods stand the greatest chance of exposure to damaging toxins." We
know that all children are at risk," she said, "but some children are at
greater risk."

Pollack said parent groups, health professionals and teachers must be
enlisted in the fight to make Michigan's schools healthier.  

State Board of Education member John Austin spoke in support of the bill and
complained about the lack of accountability for children's health and
safety. "We are not going to let our children learn in a contaminated
environment," Austin said.   

Also speaking in support of the bill was House Democratic Whip Buzz Thomas,
Rep. Hanson Clarke, both of Detroit, and Chris Kolb, ranking Democrat on the
House Land Use and Environment Committee.   Garza's bill has been referred
to Kolb's committee where a hearing may be scheduled as early as January
2002. 

Other groups who endorsed the bill included:   Detroiters Working for
Environmental Justice; Clean Water Action; the League of Conservation
Voters; Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice;
Southeast Michigan Sierra Club; Public Interest Research Group of Michigan;
Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision; and the Ecology Center. 

Links to today's news coverage of the Healthy Schools bill:

http://www.freep.com/news/locway/garza19_20011119.htm

http://www.detnews.com/2001/schools/0111/19/c01-347349.htm

More Information:
David Holtz
Environmental Media Coordinator
david.holtz@sierraclub.org
 

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