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E-M:/ NEWS FROM SIERRA CLUB - DEQ PLAYS FAST AND LOOSE



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Enviro-Mich message from "Daniel Farough" <daniel.farough@sierraclub.org>
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News from
Michigan Sierra Club
109 East Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906 Phone (517) 484-2372 Fax (517)
484-3108

For Immediate Release                                   	CONTACT:
Thursday, January 03, 2002	                                    Anne Woiwode
517-484-2372


DEQ PLAYS ‘FAST AND LOOSE’ WITH
CLEAN WATER AUTHORITY

AGENCY DEFIES EPA DEADLINE FOR ANIMAL FACTORY PERMITTING, RISKS PROGRAM
REMOVAL BY FEDS


LANSING – The State of Michigan missed an already extended December 31st
deadline from the US Environmental Protection Agency to submit a plan to
issue water permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
Missing the deadline and failing to enforce clean water laws means the USEPA
will begin removal of the entire clean water program.
“Director Harding is playing fast and loose with the State’s Clean Water Act
authority, said Anne Woiwode,” Director of Michigan Sierra Club.  “But more
importantly, he is gambling with the health and welfare of Michigan
residents by refusing to enforce environmental safeguards.”

Meanwhile, environmental hotspots that are the result of DEQ and Harding’s
defiance continue to surface in areas all around the state.  Recently, tests
results taken downstream of Hartland Farms, a dairy CAFO near Hudson in late
November showed surface water contamination levels at 570,000 E.Coli per
milliliter or as high as 1,900 times State maximum total body contact
levels.  Hartland farms adds itself to a laundry list of animal factory
polluters in almost every region of the state.  “Harding spends too much
time in Lansing and not enough time in the communities impacted by his
policies, said Woiwode.  “Animal Factory pollution will not be cured by
Harry Potter-like fantasies or pretend games.  Harding needs to come out of
Lansing and talk to the people who are at risk.”

Woiwode said that the Sierra Club expects, based on the Engler
Administration record, that even if the state meets the deadline, the
program proposed will fall far short of minimum requirements for protecting
drinking and recreational water quality near CAFOs in Michigan.  “Sierra
Club is eager to see the state finally come into compliance with the law,
but we have no illusions that the permitting plan the Administration might
propose will address the full extent of the problems with Michigan’s
program,” according to Woiwode.  “However, as the Hartland Farms mess
demonstrates once again it is long past time for the state to act to protect
its citizens from deadly water contamination caused by animal factories.”
Sierra Club has also brought citizen lawsuits against two CAFOs in Michigan
and given notice of intent to sue against three others based on water
quality violations.

The EPA deadline was established in a letter sent October 26th by Region 5
Administrator Thomas Skinner to Michigan DEQ Director Russell Harding. The
letter from Skinner states that discussions were ongoing between state and
federal officials on water permitting and CAFOS in Michigan.  Skinner agreed
to the state’s request for a delay until after the Michigan Farm Bureau
annual meeting, “to work to with the Michigan agricultural community on an
acceptable CAFO plan.”  The letter also says that MDEQ would promote the
proposed CAFO permitting plan at the Farm Bureau meeting. To date, state
officials have not publicly discussed the EPA’s deadline or their plans
regarding compliance with the mandate.

If the state fails to meet the December 31st deadline, the EPA letter says
that no later than January 15th the federal agency will publish and seek
public comment on their draft final report reviewing the state’s delegated
program under the Clean Water Act.  The report follows a September 2000
Interim Report, which found the state’s program to be “severely lacking.”
Release of the report and solicitation of public input would be the next
step toward withdrawing the state’s authority to run the Clean Water Act
regulatory program in Michigan.  Withdrawal of the state’s delegation would
mean all water permitting and renewals will be taken away from the state and
put under US EPA’s control.

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