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E-M:/ News Release: 'Ring Out' Pollution Subsidies

For Immediate Release                                    Contact: Anne Woiwode 517-484-2372
October 1, 2003                                                                           Cyndi Roper 517-203-0754
                                                                                                      James Clift 517-487-9539

Message To Lawmakers:
'Ring Out' Taxpayer Subsidies For Polluters

(Lansing)  Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and Michigan Environmental Council today greeted Michigan’s 2004 Fiscal Year by calling on the Legislature to enact pollution permit fees to fully and fairly fund the Department of Environmental Quality 2004 budget.   “On this first day of the new Fiscal Year, we are calling on Michigan House and Senate members to ring out taxpayer subsidies for polluters, and ring in pollution permit fees to fully fund protection of the health and well-being of Michigan’s families and communities,” said Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club’s Michigan Director at a press conference the organizations held in Lansing today. 

Swift passage of permit fee bills by the Legislature is critical to pay for FY2004 DEQ programs to regulate surface water discharges (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES program), groundwater discharges and stormwater discharges.   However, the three groups are calling for critical amendments to the NPDES permit fee bill, SB 252, to fix potentially fatal flaws.  The environmental groups are calling for amendments to SB 252 which remove an arbitrary timeline for permit issuance which undermines DEQ’s current efficient handling procedures, a phase in of increased fees to fully fund the NPDES program in 3 years, requirements for annual inspections of major permitted facilities, and funding for pollution prevention programs to move industry toward elimination of toxic discharges into Michigan’s waterways.

Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action’s State Director, emphasized the overwhelming public support throughout Michigan for making water polluters pay for state water pollution programs.  Standing next to stacks of signatures from tens of thousands of Michigan citizens supporting permit fees, Roper introduced a Clean Water Action Scorecard Vote Alert that includes a ballot asking legislators to commit today to how they will vote on the proposed amendments.  “The people of Michigan have spoken loud and clear on their desire to see pollution permit fee legislation enacted,” Roper said.  “Michigan Legislators must listen to their neighbors and friends who are demanding that water polluters pay the full cost of enforcement, monitoring, compliance and pollution prevention.”

James Clift, Policy Director for Michigan Environmental Council explained that the current version of SB 252 eliminates requirements for reporting stored and discharged toxic materials to the DEQ, posing a serious threat to communities.  “Fire fighters and other first responders will face serious risks from unknown toxic materials stored at locations where they are fighting fires, floods or other emergencies,” Clift said. “The proposed elimination of the mandatory reporting of materials from Michigan’s Critical Materials Register is a poison pill that threatens to block this essential legislation.” 

A large blank vote chart on SB 252 prepared by Clean Water Action was displayed to show how votes by the Members of House will be tracked when the legislation comes to the House floor.

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

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