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RE: E-M:/ Gerald Henning and MDA failure to respond: LSJ today



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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Ms Sandell - 

I in no way want to suggest it is appropriate for anyone to curse or
yell at state employees, or for that matter anyone, who is doing their
job. The tragedy here is that through a conscious set of policy
decisions made by the Engler administration and the Legislature, victims
of CAFOs were given NO way to address the horrific health, wellbeing and
even fiscal impacts on them and their community.  During the Engler era,
the ONLY state entity that provided real relief was the Tax Tribunal,
which has repeatedly found that neighbors of CAFOs deserve to have their
property taxes reduced because the stench took away their use of the
outdoors.  I hope that is not the case for you -- that the stench
doesn't send you to the hospital with hydrogen sulfide poisoning, or
force you to live on oxygen, or make you vomit when you go outside, or
seep through the walls even when the windows are shut so you can't sleep
at night and get sent to the hospital with a hacking cough, or make it
impossible for you to escape because no fool would buy your home and put
up with the same.

John Klein begins to get at, below, the issues, which are well beyond
those of the sights, sounds and smells of traditional agriculture.  It
is wrong to think of these operations as somehow just bigger versions of
traditional dairies, or that any CAFO is just a big farm operation.
These are industrial operations that, through the technologies used and
scale, take manure and turn it into a putrefied, toxic waste material in
an anaerobic cesspool, then spread this unbelievably horrific mess on
hundreds of acres of lands, in many cases year round. The "smell" is
more than just the manure smell many of us grew up with -- in both
intensity and content, it is a threat to health, property and even the
sanity of people near by.

It is absolutely correct that the state employee who is, in this case,
hearing the voice mail message, does not deserve to be insulted or
attacked.  But ironically, only because of this does Mr. Henning's story
become a front page story in the Lansing State Journal.  The fact that
he and his family have been assaulted by the pollution from the neighbor
for years was not enough to get this kind of attention to his plight
before.  What kind of message does that send to the public?  Doesn't the
state have an obligation also to assure that the rights of all its
citizens are protected equally, and that CAFO operators are not "more
equal" than others?  Couldn't the MDA officials have used the same
energy to try to solve the problems, so that after the first few calls
Mr. Henning was beginning to see some resolutions?  Despite claims to
the contrary, the neighbor who provoked these calls as recently as last
fall spread wastes on fields next the Henning property while harvesting
was underway, sending one person to the hospital with hydrogen sulfide
poisoning.  The phone messages that supposedly brought about the charges
against Mr. Henning came shortly after this incident. It is hard to
envision this as progress being made to address the problems.

I do want to note that the DEQ under Jennifer Granholm and Steve Chester
is beginning to address some of the CAFO pollution issues and deal with
concerns from the public, but the air issues have continued to be the
cause of total confusion about authority, enforceability, etc.  However,
they are forced to play catch up on this daunting issue, and they still
don't even know where all the CAFOs in the state are.

Anne Woiwode

******************************** 



I'm with the DEQ and live across from a farm which doesn't operate on
this scale, but we have plenty of manure smells when the wind comes from
upstream.  I consider it a tolerable tradeoff for living outside the
city limits (and this is NOT meant to start the sprawl discussion
again!).  Since the news coverage and Anne Woiwode's note took opposite
points of view over who's more disagreeable, I was just throwing out a
question whether Mr. Henning had gone above the heads any of those he
had trouble with  and your note answers that question.

I prefer to think that we who care about the environment and about other
people are on the same side.  Whether MDA or DEQ let the ball drop on
this, I don't think that threatening some poor clerk who logs phone
calls accomplishes anything.  

>>> John Klein <john@winpublishing.com> Jun 23, 2003  1:51 PM >>>
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Enviro-Mich message from John Klein <john@winpublishing.com>
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I am not sure which Michigan agency Susan Sandell is with, but the MDA 

has provided no adequate response to anyone in the area concerning the 

odor from these CAFOs. Every MDA department director, every local and 

appropriate legislator, every health department and even the Michigan 

Agriculture Commission ( I personally attended their meetings) have  
been informed of the devastation these CAFOs have inflicted upon their 

neighbor. We have been ignored. Mr. Henning's frustration is clearly  
understood.

I had 4 straight days last week of being unable to open my windows,  
more in the previous weeks. When I filed a complaint through the  
"proper channels" called the MDA, they informed me that since these  
farms are in "escalated enforcement" they will not respond to any  
complaints "odor or water". They say it is in the hands on MDEQ. They 

have washed their hands of these CAFOs.

When I call the MDEQ Air Quality Division, they tell me it is not in  
their jurisdiction. Nothing happens. Please tell what you would do.

For 16 years, there has never been an odor problem. When the CAFOs  
moved in, the problems began. More than 70 million gallons of feces,  
urine and milkhouse waste is spread on the local ground annually.  
Unfortunately I feel Mr. Henning frustration is just the tip of the  
iceberg.

Please move in with me and invite your friends over for a nice cookout 

this weekend. Of course, you'll want to pray for the correct wind  
direction. If not, you can call them, apologize, and tell them not to 

come over as we have to do.

Please imagine yourself living with these odor problems everyday and  
thank you for trying to understand.

On Monday, June 23, 2003, at 12:57 PM, Susan Sandell wrote:

>
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> --
> Enviro-Mich message from "Susan Sandell" <SANDELLS@michigan.gov>
>
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> --
>
> I wonder whether when courtesy failed (presuming he started that way)
 
> he
> attempted to go up the chain of command in MDA or through his
> legislator
> rather than trying to get action through threats.  Speaking as a
> faceless state bureaucrat, I don't respond very positively to verbal
> abuse either  I wonder how many others have been motivated by it,
> government or private sector.  However, if I'm not doing my job (or
if
> someone thinks I'm not), it's perfectly legitimate to go to my boss,
my
> department director, or a legislator to call me on it.  He handled
his
> complaint inappropriately and should be big enough to take the 
> consequences.
>
>>>> "danderso" <danderso@remc4.k12.mi.us> Jun 23, 2003  9:58 AM >>>
> Alternatively, if you really prefer to avoid Mr. Hennings situation 
> hire a  competent lawyer with some integrity and sue the cow crap out
 
> of
> them. Of course, that costs a lot of money. Maybe Mr. Vermuelen, 
> compassionate soul that he is would be willing to do some pro-bono 
> work.
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: Kenneth Vermeulen
>   To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net ; anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org 
>   Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 7:09 AM
>   Subject: Re: E-M:/ Gerald Henning and MDA failure to respond: LSJ 
> today
>
>
>   Alternatively, if you really prefer to avoid Mr. Henning's
situation,
> avoid discharging firearms in the direction of others, and avoid
using
> profanity on recorded messages.
>
>   Ken Vermeulen
>>>> "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org> 06/22/03 10:56AM
>>>>
>
>
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> --
>   Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" 
> <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
>
>
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> --
>
>   E-M folks:
>
>   The story about the Ingham County Prosecutor going after Gerald 
> Henning,
>   the 82 yr old farmer from near Hudson, MI, because of his
frustrated
> and
>   irritated voice mail messages on the Michigan Department of
>   Agriculture's Right to Farm complaint line shows up on the front
page
> of
>   the Lansing State Journal today.  Over the course of almost three 
> years,
>   Mr. Henning lodged complaints with a virtually entirely 
> non-responsive
>   MDA, while the problems continued totally unabated.
>
>   The LSJ story focuses on the free speech issues, and drastically
>   understates the horrific environmental and health consequences of 
> the
>   CAFO next door that caused and continued to fuel Mr. Henning's 
> response.
>   Prosecuting Gerald Henning is a classic case of blaming the victim
> --
>   the MDA folks who filed the complaints and the prosecutors should 
> have
>   been forced to live in his house during the worst episodes before 
> they
>   brought charges against him. If you want to know what life has
been
> like
>   in the Hudson area for Mr. Henning and his neighbors with 10 CAFOs
>   having plopped down there, go to www.nocafos.org which is the
website
> of
>   the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan
>   (ECCSCM).
>
>   The Lansing State Journal story is at:
>   http://www.lsj.com/news/local/030622_obscene_1a-10a.html
>
>
>   <<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->>
>   Anne Woiwode, Staff Director, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
>   109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48906
>   517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108  anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org 
>   visit the Mackinac Chapter on the web at 
> http://michigan.sierraclub.org
>
>
>
>
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and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
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