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E-M:/ Water Protection Campaign Launched Today



Citizen Groups Urge Lansing Legislators to Stop Polluter Free Ride

Community and environmental groups today announced a new campaign to protect Michigan’s waters from pollution and warned that unless lawmakers act on proposals for enforcing the Clean Water Act the state’s Great Lakes, river and streams will continue to receive direct pollution discharges.

The Stand Up for Michigan’s Waters campaign announcement comes as lawmakers consider funding alternatives for a permit program that regulates pollution discharges into Michigan’s waterways. The Granholm administration has proposed shifting the financial burden from taxpayers to polluters to fund The National Pollution Discharge Elimination permit program.  Lawmakers, however, are studying other proposals to eliminate fee revenues that could put the state’s program for regulating water pollution discharges in jeopardy.

The campaign was launched with news events in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Oakland County and Macomb County. Clean Water Action, League of Conservation Voters-Michigan, PIRGIM and Sierra Club are among the organizations spearheading the effort. The groups announced a web site—www.michiganswater.org—that gives Michiganders information about the campaign.

Currently, taxpayers pay for the permit program that monitors pollution dumped into Michigan waterways. Nearly 1,500 facilities are discharging free of charge statewide.

The Stand Up for Michigan’s Waters coalition today called on policy makers in Lansing to adopt funding proposals and reforms that discourage pollution and strengthen enforcement of environmental laws.

Groups called for permit fees similar to programs in nearly every other state. Clean Water permit fees help discourage pollution by charging for pollution and ensures fair funding of the program. In addition, permit fees will help to adequately fund proper monitoring and enforcement of the Clean Water Act in Michigan.

As a result of inadequate funding, weak enforcement has created an atmosphere where polluters feel comfortable breaking environmental laws. A study of recent EPA compliance data found 36% of all major facilities in Michigan were in serious violation of the Clean Water Act.

Current legislation being considered in the House and Senate would set fees for pollution discharges based on the pollution being discharged and increase the public’s right to know about pollution discharged into Michigan’s waterways. The coalition called on Legislative leaders including Senator Ken Sikkema, Senator Patricia Birkholz and Representative Ruth Johnson to take action on these proposals.

To contact the campaign go to:  www.michiganswater.org