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E-M:/ Sierra Club Lobby Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    FOR MORE INFORMATION:
April 21, 2005                                                              Gayle Miller
Sierra Club Legislative Coordinator
                                                                                    (517) 484-2372 - phone
                                                                                    (517) 420-7198 - cell
Wednesday was a big day for 5th graders of Wealthy Elementary School in East Grand Rapids. The school?s 70 students, along with about 20 teachers and parents, traveled to Michigan?s capitol to learn to be citizen lobbyists.
The students added to the efforts of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, which conducted its spring Lobby Day on April 20. Ninety members of the nation?s largest grassroots environmental organization lobbied on three different environmental issues and had scheduled meetings with over 85 legislators.
The students also met with legislators and helped the Sierra Club educate lawmakers on a critical problem facing Michigan ? factory farms. The students did their own research about factory farms and paid drop-in visits to legislators? offices in small groups to share their knowledge. Over lunch, the students met with their own House Representative, David Hildenbrand. Senator Sikkema chose not to meet with the students, but sent an aide.
Michigan has more than 200 factory farms in operation, which are causing severe water and air pollution in rural communities across the state. Between the efforts of the students and Sierra Club lobbyists, all 148 House and Senate offices were provided information about factory farms, an issue the state has largely ignored for years.
According to Sierra Club director Anne Woiwode, ?While they represent an extremely small percentage of all Michigan?s 53,000 farms, factory farms dump millions of gallons of untreated animal sewage into Michigan streams and lakes each year and cause horrific air pollution. Rural residents, including family farmers living near these industrial facilities, have experienced debilitating health impacts, such as hydrogen sulfide poisoning and chronic lung illnesses.?
The health and environmental impacts of factory farms are often topped off by a catastrophic drop in property value, as homes near the facilities become un-marketable due to their environmental and health impacts.
On the way home from Lansing, one carpool of students took a detour past a factory farm. In front of the facility, the students posed for pictures in front of a sign that warned about biohazards. According to their parent driver, ?the kids were holding their noses because it stunk so bad!!!?
Gayle Miller
Conservation Program Coordinator
Sierra Club
109 E. Grand River Ave.
Lansing, MI 48906
ph - (517) 484-2372
fax - (517) 484-3108

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039 
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com