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E-M:/ Ten years fail to bring reform



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Enviro-Mich message from Sue Julian <sjulian@provide.net>
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It's been ten years since the Engler's Environmental Code Commission
compiled all environmental laws into NREPA but omitted drain code
legislation because of the conflicts with the Inland Lakes and Streams
Act and the Wetland Protection Act.  We are into a new administration
and a new century but the drain code bill (SB 217 S-4) which was voted
out of the Senate Ag Committee on Thursday, Feb. 26, is headed to the
Senate floor with no more environmental protection than it has had
through all of the past legislative attempts to get this bill passed.

There has been an effort to characterize this as a modernization of the
old PA 40 of 1956, but, in fact, it still represents the philosophy that
conventional drainage trumps environmental concerns.  If passed, it will
establish this as the principle for Michigan's management of its water
resources. Issues of surface water pollution, urban sprawl, ground water
recharge, fish and wildlife management, Great Lakes protection and
appropriate watershed management are all swept up in this 220 page,
complicated legislation.

As in previous legislative sessions, legislators in Lansing are likely
to vote without ever reading the document.  Essentially the same bill
was defeated in the Senate in 2000, by a combination of concerns over
taxation, increased power of drain commissioners, and water quality
issues that  persuaded Senators on both sides of the aisle that this was
the wrong direction to go.

Michigan's environmental community needs to rally once again to defeat
this bill.

Nothing has changed despite almost 300 amendments added by Sen.
VanWoerkom's Ag Committee.  For specific bill information, contact the
Michigan Drain Code Coalition, c/o Sue Julian, 248-634-3513 or
sjulian@provide.net.




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