Lansing, MI – Michigan environmentalists today criticized yesterday’s budget deal between Governor Granholm and the Legislature, saying program cuts mean the state’s waters and other natural resources and the public health are being shortchanged. The budget includes only $56 million in general fund support, a nearly 50-percent cut from just two years ago.
“Environmental protection receives substantial lip service in Lansing, but when it comes to providing the funding necessary to protect our environment this budget falls far short,” said James Clift, Policy Director of the Michigan Environmental Council. “Elected officials in Michigan need to pass budgets that reflect the value of Michigan’s precious natural resources to ensure the state’s long-term economic viability.”
Among the funding gaps is the substantial shortfall in dollars for the state’s key water protection program, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The budget compromise includes only $3 million in water pollution discharge fees despite Governor Granholm originally proposing $7.2 million in fees. Those fees would have completely eliminated taxpayer subsidies for essential program operations. In contrast, Illinois recently enacted $25 million in water discharge fees to help fund its water program and to help offset other budget shortfalls.
Earlier this month, residents of St. Clair Shores were concerned about the thoroughness of the EPA’s recent $6 million PCB cleanup so they paid for and conducted their own sampling for PCBs in local canals and stormdrains. Although the EPA removed the PCBs to a level of 1 part per million (ppm), the citizen sampling results found up to 1,000 ppm remaining in the cleanup zone.
“It appears state lawmakers are satisfied with a system that increasingly forces Michigan residents to monitor pollution sources in order to protect themselves and their families from toxic exposures,” said Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director for Clean Water Action. “The legislature and the Governor seem content to give polluters their ‘permission slips’ to pollute but they are turning their backs on the real funding needs, which include monitoring, enforcing and eliminating the toxic discharges.”
For more information:
James Clift, MEC (517) 487-9539
Cyndi Roper, MEC (517) 490-1394