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E-M:/ More grist re Granholm's bid to be Great Lakes Champion

Enviro-Mich message from Terry Lodge <tjlodge50@yahoo.com>

    In the interests of helping activists to
understand the just-proposed Granholm environmental
initiatives, I pass this story along.

    I'm an attorney in Toledo. The day before
Thanksgiving, 1999, I, along with several Michigan
antinuclear activists, met with two litigation section
attorneys in Granholm's office in Lansing. Our purpose
was to solicit the A-G's interest in taking the lead
to sue to stop the then-pending shipment by the U.S.
Department of Energy of mixed oxide plutonium (MOX)
from Los Alamos, NM to northern Ontario as part of an
ill-considered scheme by the U.S. and Russian
Federation to make nuclear fuel from decommissioned
nuclear weapons.

   We had identified many serious public health and
safety concerns from the scheme (including terrorist
threats), and there had already been considerable
public outcry about the proposed shipment, especially
from people in western Michigan. We feared that a
court challenge by grassroots citizen plaintiffs would
fail because of a lack of resources to take on a
lengthy legal battle against USDOE.

   The response from Granholm's representatives was
that Jennifer had to pick her battles very carefully,
and they cited an adverse court ruling in Wisconsin
between that state's Republican governor and his
Democrat attorney-general over a difference in policy,
which supposedly had given Wisconsin's governor
extremely tight control over the cases Wisconsin's
attorney-general could litigate. We were told that
Michigan's A-G was worried that if she took on too
many initiatives with which Engler's office disagreed,
it would be inviting a similar conflagration to that
in Wisconsin. 

    We responded that there had been literally
hundreds of Michigan opponents of the MOX shipment who
had provided written comments or turned out for DOE
public information meetings which had taken place in
the preceding 30 days; that even Engler's disaster
assistance personnel had expressed concerns over the
DOE's flimsy hazard responder notification
arrangements (this was during the Clinton era!); and
that if there were ever a bipartisan public health and
safety/enviro issue (especially one involving
conservative western Michigan voters), this was
certainly it. Nonetheless, the two
litigator-supervisors we met with said that to take on
such litigation might jeopardize the "independence" of
the A-G in selecting public interest issues to take to
court. And so they declined to get involved in the
suit which some of Michigan's best and brightest
grassroots activists later pursued (unsuccessfully,
although the plaintiffs did obtain an interim court
order holding the shipment off for more than a week). 

     I tell this story, not to debate the merits of
the MOX program, but to express that Michigan's #1 law
enforcement officer has a tendency to assess public
crises solely in terms of political (as opposed to
radioactive, in this case) fallout, coupled with a
troubling willingness to work within parameters set by
conservative politicians which are little related to
the genuine public interest.

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