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E-M:/ DEQ Citizen Oversight Commission Needed

Enviro-Mich message from Michele Scarborough <mec@voyager.net>

Yesterday the DEQ released proposed public involvement recommendations
prepared by the agency's Environmental Advisory Council (EAC).  Comments
on the recommendations will be accepted until October 31, 2003. Comments
should be e-mailed to  DEQ-EAC@michigan.gov.

Below is a statement by several members of the EAC about the need for a
DEQ citizen oversight board.



As members of the Department of Environmental Quality Environmental
Advisory Committee, we commend agency chief Steve Chester and staff for
soliciting the views of outside advisors on methods of restoring public
trust and confidence in the environmental
decisions of the department. That trust and confidence was shattered by
actions of the previous gubernatorial administration and DEQ management,
which deliberately excluded affected communities from decision-making
about air and water pollution, wetland protection, waste management and
other matters affecting public health and the environment.  This breach
of the public trust will be difficult to remedy.

Although the draft EAC recommendations, to which we contributed, are an
important step forward, they fall short of what is needed to assure
broad-based citizen participation in environmental decision-making, and
oversight of critical DEQ decisions.  The EAC will next be discussing
whether a citizen oversight body should be created to provide citizens a
direct role in DEQ decision-making. Late last year, more than 100
environmental and conservation groups representing hundreds of thousands
of Michigan citizens wrote then Governor-Elect Granholm to urge that she
support the creation of a citizen oversight board for DEQ. We were among
the letter's signatories. We continue to believe strongly that such a
board, with appropriate powers to consider public views and render key
decisions, is absolutely critical to the state's
constitutionally-mandated job of preventing pollution, impairment or
destruction of natural resources.

As the Governor and Director Chester review public response to the EAC
recommendations, we urge them to demonstrate continued leadership in
restoring Michigan's reputation for environmental innovation and
leadership by implementing the recommendations in the EAC report and
supporting the creation of a DEQ citizen oversight board.

Wil Cwikiel
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

Charles Griffith
Ecology Center

Lana Pollack
Michigan Environmental Council

Michele Scarborough
Member Services Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Dr., Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539
(517) 487-9541 fax

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