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CLARIFICATION Re: E-M:/ Lawmakers undermine Michigan'senvironmental programs with budget cuts

Enviro-Mich message from "Daniel Farough" <Dfarough@house.mi.gov>


In the interest of clarification, folks should be aware that these attacks on the DEQ budget come specifically from Republican lawmakers and efforts to thwart these attacks came from Democratic lawmakers.  The GOP plan cuts more than $14.2 million from the budget, amounting to a 15 percent across-the-board reduction. It includes slashing $5.4 million from the DEQ general fund and eliminating 117 full-time employees.

Rep. Kolb, Rep. Rich Brown and other House Democrats vehemently opposed the cuts. Kolb offered an amendment to restore the 117 jobs and Brown put forth an amendment to restore the $5.4 million to the budget. Republicans rejected both measures and they were defeated along party lines.

The DEQ said the budget cuts would impair their work in a wide-range of environmental protection efforts. DEQ officials also projected that the cuts could possibly prompt the elimination or reduction of many key programs, including: the oversight of toxic air pollutants, including mercury and dioxin; efforts to enforce clean water laws;and, ability to inspect, monitor and respond to incidents involving radioactive materials.

Dan Farough
Press Secretary
House Democratic Communications

>>> <MOwens@pirgim.org> 6/18/2004 1:25:56 PM >>>
The full report can be found at www.pirgim.org 


For Immediate Release:
For More Information:

June 18, 2004
Brian Imus, PIRGIM, 734-662-6597


Lawmakers Undermine Michigan's Environmental Programs with Budget Cuts


Lansing * Proposed budget cuts debated over the last several weeks by the
Michigan Legislature will dramatically undermine clean air and water
protections, according to an analysis of budget data conducted by PIRGIM
(Public Interest Research Group in Michigan). 


The budget cuts come after several years of severe cuts in funding for the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). After inflation, MDEQ
has lost $75 million in funding since 1996, a decline of 18%. This funding
shortfall has reduced the effectiveness of key public health, safety, and
environmental programs.  The proposed budget cuts, including a 15% reduction
in general fund dollars and a mandatory 8% staff reduction, would make the
situation worse. For example:


*	Cuts to the Water Division would mean a loss of $1.6 million dollars
and at least 29 layoffs. A cut this size could mean the elimination of
compliance inspections and direct water sampling for all major industrial
facilities that discharge pollution into Michigan waterways.  The additional
pollution allowed by weakened enforcement could mean less pure drinking
water and more beach closings. 

*	Cuts to the Air Quality Division could lead to the elimination of
the Air Toxics Control Program. The program is critical to assess and reduce
the risks of air toxics like mercury, dioxin, benzene and other emissions
from industry and transportation. 

*	The Geological and Land Management Division would have to layoff 15
staff and do without nearly $900,000 in general funds. This could mean the
termination of Wetlands Assessment Services and Dam Safety programs
resulting in development in environmentally sensitive wetlands and dunes,
and no safety oversight for 800 dams across the state. 

"Michiganders will pay for these budget cuts with reduced quality of life,"
said PIRGIM's Program Director, Brian Imus. "These attacks by Lansing
lawmakers on public health and environmental programs could mean more beach
closings, more fishing advisories and more days when it is unsafe to breathe
the air."


In addition to the proposed general fund and staff reduction, the proposed
MDEQ budget could require the privatization of the state environmental and
drinking water laboratories.  This change could require significant costs
associated with decommissioning the state laboratory building and equipment
in Lansing and could compromise the performance of the department in
responding rapidly to spills and conducting criminal and civil


For more information and a full copy of PIRGIM's white paper analysis, "The
Effect of Funding Shortfalls on Michigan's Environment," go to
www.pirgim.org <http://www.pirgim.org/> 


# # #


PIRGIM (Public Interest Research Group in Michigan) is a non-profit public
interest advocacy organization, working throughout Michigan to preserve the
environment, protect consumers and promote good government. 

Brian Imus
PIRGIM State Director
122 S. Main St., Ste. 370
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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