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E-M:/ Bad CAFO Bills PASS Michigan Senate -- onto the House

Contrary to the requests of the environmental community, the sustainable agriculture community, the public health community, many local units of government and the Granholm Administration,  the Michigan Senate has voted to PASS the CAFO DEREGULATORY PACKAGE OF BILLS: SB 501, 503, 504, 447 & 448.  The votes were fundamentally party line votes (Rs in favor of the bad package, Ds against), with the exceptions of Senator Barcia, who voted for the package and all the bad amendments, and Senator Patterson who not only voted against the package but requested his name be removed as a co-sponsor.


SB 502 did NOT get voted on today -- while it is still alive and on the Senate calendar, it is possible that the sponsor, Senator Birkholz, decided not to try to run a bill whose only purpose would be to intimidate citizens out of offering complaints against CAFOs to the DEQ. 


Extensive amendments, both good and bad, were considered and debated, with some being added and others rejected, but the net effect of the amendments attached was to do nothing to mitigate the worst features of the bills.  The package of bills itself underwent extensive debate, much of which will be recorded in the Senate Journal when it is printed on line later today or tomorrow (go to www.legislature.mi.gov and select “Journals” from the left side bar, or go to http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(ulivepzda45mne55x35pr3ja))/mileg.aspx?page=Journals and select the Senate Journal for June 20).


Particular appreciation goes to the Senators that led the fight against these lousy bills: 


Senator Glen Anderson offered an amendment to prohibit the application of liquid manure wastes to frozen ground (defeated)


Senator Ray Basham offered a substitute of his proposed legislation, SB 444, for SB 504 -- this would put a moratorium on all new or expanding CAFOS (defeated)  Senator Basham also spoke eloquently against the full package of bills.


Senator Liz Brater offered two amendments to SB 448: one that would require water quality testing upstream, downstream and at field tile outlets annually with a requirement that violations of water quality standards in those tests would lead to “enhanced water quality protection monitoring program” (defeated); and a second that states “a person can bring a cause of action for any reduction in property value against the owner or operator of a large CAFO if they can demonstrate that they owned the property before the establishment of the large CAFO and the value of their property has dropped due to its proximity to the large CAFO.” (defeated).  Senator Brater spoke forcefully and well to both of these issues and to the terrible impact of these operations on the people who live next to them.


Senator Gretchen Whitmer spoke against the whole package, pointing out that the voluntary MAEAP standards are good, but according to USEPA they fall far short of the protection provided by NPDES permitting.  She noted that no one there was opposed to a successful livestock industry in Michigan, despite what some of the proponents of the bills were claiming, but that that industry must not be given a free pass to pollute.


Senator John Gleason opposed the bills, noting that there were good things in some parts of the bills, but that the tie-bars of the bad bills to the good ones meant he would oppose the full package.


Senator Bruce Patterson said little but his request that he be removed as a co-sponsor on SB 504 spoke reams.


More later --







Anne M. Woiwode, State Director, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter  - 109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906

517-484-2372    fax 517-484-3108 -- anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org 

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter celebrating our 40th Anniversary on September 9, 2007

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