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Re: E-M:/ Sierra Club v. River Ridge Farms



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Enviro-Mich message from Isaac Elnecave <isaacmec@voyager.net>
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I didn't realize that attorneys got paid so little for their time.  I
would appreciate it
if people stopped clogging my email with their discussion of minutae.

Isaac Elnecave

Kenneth Vermeulen wrote:

> For the record, Aaron, I most certainly did NOT fail to mention that
> Ed was an investor in Agri-Investments.  I expressly DID identify that
> fact (please re-read my post).  The only reason that Ed signed the
> early Consent Judgment was because, at that time, he was operating the
> landfill located across the street from the Grand River Dairy, and
> happened to be the most convenient person to sign on behalf of
> Agri-Investments.  He had absolutely NO responsibility under the
> Consent Order, or for the activities resulting in the earlier release.
>
> >>> "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org> 06/20/02 07:02PM >>>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
> Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
>
> While not wishing to belabor this debate, nor bore Enviro-Mich
> readers, the
> following comments from our attorney, Aaron Isherwood, will provide a
> fitting endpoint for this debate- AW
>
>
> The Sierra Club's goal is, and has always been, to get Mr. Hanenburg
> to
> make improvements to his facilities to prevent future unlawful
> discharges
> of manure to Michigan waterways.  We are very pleased to have achieved
> that
> goal.
>
> Readers should be aware that Ken Vermeullen is a paid lawyer for Ed
> Hanenburg and, as such, a professional adversary of the Sierra Club.
> While
> we respect Ken's persistent defense of his client, his view is hardly
> an
> objective one.   It is not surprising that Ken would like readers to
> believe that the Sierra Club had nothing to do with the improvements
> his
> client is making at the River Ridge and White Acres facilities.
>
> For the Sierra Club, it is far more important that the improvements
> are
> being made than that we get the credit. Nonethless, to set the record
> straight, here are our responses to Ken's comments.
>
> First, while Ken is correct that many of the improvements being made
> at
> River Ridge and White Acres are the result of an EPA enforcement order
>
> issued after the Sierra Club announced its intent to file suit, he
> fails to
> mention that the Sierra Club is directly responsible for EPA's
> enforcement.
> (In contrast, despite a 15-year history of violations, the MDEQ has
> done
> nothing but issue slap-on-the-wrist consent orders that failed to
> prevent
> unlawful discharges of manure to Michigan waterways.)  If the Sierra
> Club
> had not brought the problems at River Ridge to EPA's attention, the
> agency
> likely would not have gotten involved.
>
> Second, Ken is correct that Mr. Hanenburg did not purchase the River
> Ridge
> dairy until 1991.  He fails to point out, however, Mr. Hanenburg was a
>
> parter in Agri Investments which owned the dairy in 1985 when it
> discharged
> over 1 million gallons of manure to the Grand River and that Mr.
> Hanenburg
> signed the consent order on behalf of Agri Investments for the
> resulting
> fish kill.  As such, he bears some responsibility, if not complete
> responsibility, for the pollution problems that occurred at the
> facility
> prior to 1991.
>
> Third, Ken is correct that Mr. Hanenburg made a contribution, in lieu
> of
> civil penalties, to GVWRI for water testing as part of his consent
> decree
> with the state.  Ken proposed to the Sierra Club that Mr. Hanenburg
> make a
> similar contribution as part of his settlement with the Sierra Club.
> We
> investigated GVWRI and concluded that such a contribution would help
> the
> Sierra Club's overall efforts to improve Michigan's water quality, and
> we
> therefore accepted Ken's proposal.  The Sierra Club deserves credit
> for
> forcing Mr. Hanenburg to make this additional contribution, which will
>
> provide important information about water quality and, we hope, will
> help
> to deter future violations.
>
> Finally, we must respectfully disagree with Ken's statement that the
> backroom dealings by the MDEQ and Mr. Hanenburg, which resulted in a
> slap-on-the-wrist consent judgment which was intended (but ultimately
> failed) to derail the Sierra Club's lawsuit, is "precisely how the
> citizen
> suit provisions are supposed to work."  In similar circumstances, many
>
> other state agencies have worked cooperatively with environmental
> groups
> that issue 60-day notice letters.  The MDEQ chose instead to work with
> the
> violator to try to derail the Sierra Club's enforcement.  As one
> federal
> court put in when discussing an environmental citizen suit provision,
> "Congress made clear that citizen groups are not to be treated as
> nuisances
> or troublemakers, but rather as welcomed participants in the
> vindication of
> environmental interests."  While many MDEQ staff have welcomed the
> Sierra
> Club's efforts, the agency as a whole has treated us more as
> troublemakers,
> even though, in theory at least, we are on the same side.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Aaron Isherwood
> Staff Attorney
> Sierra Club Environmental Law Program
> 85 Second Street, 2d Floor
> San Francisco, CA 94105-3441
>
>
>
>
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