[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Sierra Club calls on State to do its job on Animal Factories permitting

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:
Wednesday, November 28, 2001                                Anne Woiwode
							After 4 p.m. Wed: 517-243-3648 (cell)

“Day of Reckoning” at Farm Bureau Convention

TRAVERSE CITY – The Sierra Club today demanded that the State of Michigan
end its’ “policy of malign neglect” toward contamination of Michigan’s
waters with feces, urine and other animal factory wastes.  The environmental
group called on DEQ Director Russ Harding and MDA Director Dan Wyant to use
their platform at the Michigan Farm Bureau’s annual meeting Thursday to
pledge that the state will end its defiance of state and federal water
pollution laws. The two state agency heads will appear on a panel to discuss
water pollution permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
along with spokespersons for US Environmental Protection Agency and the
Sierra Club.

“This has gone on long enough,” said Anne Woiwode, Director of the Michigan
Sierra.  “How many more victims, how many more degraded lakes and rivers,
how many more rural communities will your agencies turn upside down before
you do the right thing?” For more than three years Michigan has refused to
require water pollution control permits for large-scale animal factories,
despite increasing reports of pollution from animal factories and growing
legal pressure from environmental groups and the US Environmental Protection

According to Woiwode, Michigan’s animal factories are increasing rapidly in
both number and size in the face of the state’s “malign neglect” towards
families and communities downstream.  Hundreds of unregulated animal
factories now dot the landscape of southern Michigan, with more being built
or planned to take advantage of Michigan’s lax policies.  A single animal
factory, known in law as a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), by
definition produces as much raw, untreated sewage waste as a city the size
of Traverse City.  Waste from animal factories contaminates the air,
threatens surface and groundwater drinking water sources with pathogens,
pollutes fisheries and recreational waterways, and puts the health and well
being of families and communities throughout rural Michigan at risk.

The state’s defiant stance has led to a dramatic escalation in the growth
and expansion of animal factories during the past few years, with millions
more gallons of raw animal sewage threatening Michigan’s waterways each
year.  Farm families and other rural residents have created local groups
throughout lower Michigan to try to protect their watersheds, homes, and
quality of life in the face of the State’s refusal to protect them or their
communities.  Rural residents in Lenawee, Kalamazoo, and Isabella Counties
and elsewhere have organized to force the State to do its job, but have
failed to see any meaningful response from state officials.  All have seen
water quality degraded and their lives turned upside down by the State’s
failed program for dealing with animal waste.

In 1999 the Sierra Club, Michigan Land Use Institute, Michigan Environmental
Council and two citizens petitioned the EPA asking that the agency strip
Michigan of its delegated authority under the Clean Water Act due to its
failure to properly enforce the law with regard to animal factories.  Such a
move would have far-reaching ramifications for all sorts of industries
including chemical and paper companies, as well as municipal sewage
treatment facilities, who would be required to go through EPA to get water
permits currently handled by the Michigan DEQ.

The EPA investigated Michigan’s Clean Water Act program and in a report
issued in September 2000 found it  “severely lacking.”  The EPA has
repeatedly demanded that Michigan come into compliance with federal law by
requiring permits for animal factories.

“This is the day of reckoning for the State,” said Woiwode.  “Denial won’t
clean the lakes or solve the problems facing the effected families and
communities.  Only enforcing the law can do that.  If the State won’t do it,
then its time to take this bad cop off the beat,” said Woiwode.

Anne Woiwode, Staff Director
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"