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E-M:/ News Release: Lawmakers Weaken Health Protections



Title:
News Release

Monday, September 29, 2003
For Immediate Release


Contacts:   
Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action, 517-490-1394
        James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council, 517-487-9539

       
Proposed Legislation Weakens Public Health Protections
Taxpayers Still Subsidizing Legal Water Pollution in the Millions of Dollars

Lansing — A House committee voted to strip a critical protection for Michigan’s waters last week.  Public health and safety will be weakened if this bill passes, and taxpayers will continue to subsidize legal water pollution, is the warning from environmentalists and public health advocates.

The legislation would eliminate the requirement for facilities to report on the storage and usage of the 64 most dangerous chemicals used to the Critical Materials Registry.  Of these 64 dangerous chemicals, 35 are known to cause cancer. 

If the repeal of this important and longstanding requirement is not removed, environmentalists and public health advocates will ask lawmakers to vote “No” on the legislation.  These groups have been pushing for water pollution legislation that makes polluters pay and supports pollution prevention and serious monitoring and enforcement.

“This is a giant step backwards for Michigan and an outright slap across the face to the public,” said Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action’s State Director. “To make lawmakers have to decide between voting against reducing taxpayer subsidies for water pollution or to remove a longstanding right to know law is unconscionable.”

Michigan’s House of Representatives is poised to vote on legislation this week that would require the roughly 1,400 water pollution (NPDES) permit holders to pay a fee that would partially fund a permit program required by the U.S. EPA.  With this permit, facilities can legally discharge pollutants such as cyanide, lead and mercury, into Michigan’s waters. 

The public has been clear and vocal on its desire to see pollution permit fee legislation enacted.  Over 45,000 letters and hundreds of calls and emails have been sent in the last year.  Citizens have urged lawmakers to pass strong legislation to reduce water pollution and specifically, the one million pounds of toxic chemicals dumped in our waterways each year, through pollution prevention efforts and serious monitoring and enforcement.

Designed to help the state identify and track users of particularly hazardous materials, the annual wastewater reporting requirement to the Critical Materials Registry was originally known as the "truth in pollution" law. It was first signed it into law in 1970 by former Governor Milliken. During the Engler Administration, the number of toxic materials to be reported on the Critical Materials Registry streamlined from over 300 to just 64. Now Michigan is facing a complete elimination of this reporting requirement.

The bill, SB 252 (H-1), has already passed the Senate, but was dramatically altered in the House Government Operations Committee last week. 

The clock is ticking to fight for water pollution law improvements. The legislature has an October 1 deadline to approve next year’s budget.

###

-- 
David Holtz
Communications & Development Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
holtzmec@voyager.net
517-487-9539 ext.12 
517-487-9541 fax


-- 
David Holtz
Communications & Development Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
holtzmec@voyager.net
517-487-9539 ext.12 
517-487-9541 fax

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"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."
-- Horace Mann