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E-M:/ Tuesday Morning Environmental Duty



Apparently the Michigan Senate is expected to take up the
deregulation package for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
Tuesday morning. 

Your duty as a Michigan environmentalist and conservationist
is to pick up the phone and call your Michigan state senator to
tell them to vote NO on the CAFO deregulation package.

Please make an effort one more time to call your Michigan state
senator and urge a NO vote on the CAFO deregulation package
and particularly on Senate Bill 504.

You can find your Michigan Senator here:

http://senate.michigan.gov/   Under "find your senator" on the left....

Tell your Senator:

Large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Michigan should all
be under permit requirements, even if they haven't had a prior proven
discharge.   Senate Bill 504 allows most Michigan CAFOs to escape permit
requirement that come into effect July 1, 2007.   Under Senate Bill 504 only
the most extremely large of all CAFOs in the state....perhaps a dozen facilities
at most that are at least 5 times the size threshold for a large CAFO...would
be required automatically to have a permit.   All other facilities that did not
have a discharge which has been proven to cause a water quality standard
violation will escape permit requirements.   Even facilities who had a discharge
who subsequently get "verified" by the Department of Agriculture would have
an "off ramp" to avoid having to renew their permits when the term was up.

Once CAFO facilities escape such permit requirements, all records of
their performance and compliance with best management practices and their
plans become secret documents at the Michigan Department of Agriculture....
and exempted from the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

Senate Bill 504 weakens Michigan law by allowing precipitation-related discharges
of animal waste pollution to Michigan streams, lakes and rivers.   This means that
CAFO operators escape enforcement if animal waste applications followed by
rains or spring thaws lead to pollution of surface waters with biohazardous, fish-killing
pollution.

Senate Bill 504 attacks Michigan's landmark Environmental Protection Act passed
in 1970 by creating a presumption in law that a so-called "verified" nutrient management
plan at a CAFO means that nothing the CAFO does can cause impairment of
natural resources.....unless a Michigan DEQ inspector is on the scene to take a water sample
to show a violation of water quality standards at the time when a CAFO operator
pollutes with animal waste discharges.   Citizen monitoring and challenges would not count as the only
party who could rebut this presumption would be the DEQ Director.   This completely
trashes the Environmental Protection Act rights of Michigan citizens to challenge
impairment of natural resources.   The "verification" process may only be a one day visit
every three years to a MAEAP facility to confirm a CAFO facility nutrient management plan
conforms to voluntary requirements.

Senate Bill 504 is an attack on Federal Clean Water Act technology-based effluent limitations and
conservation practice standards.   Under Senate Bill 504, there must be proof
that an animal waste discharge caused a water quality standard violation before
such a discharge could trigger a requirement to get a CAFO discharge permit.  This
is directly conflicting with effluent limitation requirements under the Federal Clean
Water Act and longstanding court decisions under that Act.  

Senate Bill 504 transfers many inspection duties from the MDEQ to the
Michigan Agriculture Department.  However, a Senate Fiscal agency
document indicates that the Agriculture Department is only planning to hire
2 additional full time equivalents to handle inspection and verification activity....thus
leading to an ineffectual program to address hundreds of facilities in the state.
All such inspection and verification activity and files on such facilities would be
secret and exempt from FOIA.   The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance
Program (MAEAP) plans, verification and activities would all be a secret
program, shaded from public review and scrutiny, in the hands of an agricultural
promotion agency with no public accountability or ability to audit the program activities.

The MAEAP program itself doesn't have any provision for CAFO operators to conduct
regular water quality monitoring on either wastewater discharged or on surface
waters of the state around their facilities.   So any reliance on MAEAP to ensure that
water quality standards are protected is seriously misguided.

The definition of "nutrient management plan" in Senate Bill 504 excludes any direct
mention of protecting groundwater from CAFO waste.

Under Senate Bill 504, if MDEQ finds a CAFO waste discharge and it is
able to prove a water quality standard violation, then MDEQ is removed from
the remaining enforcement process and the Department of Agriculture takes
the lead to require revisions of nutrient management plans.

Finally, Senate Bill 504 creates a priority for the expenditure of Clean Water
Act Section 319 non-point source grant control funds to areas and MAEAP
facilities, rather than directing such funds towards the sites with the greatest need.
This then forces public money to further fund secret and non-accountable activities
at so-called MAEAP-verified CAFO operations.

Regards,  Alex Sagady
 

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

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

657 Spartan Avenue,  East Lansing, MI  48823 
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com
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