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E-M:/ DEQ FORCED TO CUT ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS



Dear Michigan – PLEASE LOOK AT THIS PROPOSAL TO REDUCE DEQ PERMIT REVIEWS FOR INLAND LAKES AND STREAMS!

 

As most of you know, the DEQ’s budget has been slashed repeatedly over the past few years.  Budget cuts and subsequent staff reductions threaten to reduce the DEQ’s ability to uphold the public trust and protect our natural resources.

 

One immediate consequence of this affects the permit review process, which uses professional and knowledgeable agency staff. This process includes assessment of impacts from proposed activities, and allows the least damaging alternatives to be identified and exercised.  Such review is essential to ensure protection of our valuable water resources.

 

Unfortunately, given their dire lack of funding, DEQ is proposing to suspend environmental review for certain activities on inland lakes and streams, if environmental review and authorization can be provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  As such, DEQ has issued a Public Notice for a Temporary General Permit for Specified Minor Activities Authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Lakes and Streams.

 

In some cases, Michigan’s waterways suffered substantial environmental impacts from large projects.  However, the vast majority suffer from numerous “minor” activities that ultimately create substantial cumulative impacts, akin to “death by a thousand cuts”.  Removal of review by the DEQ for certain activities will surely result in additional degradation and destruction of our water resources, because this General Permit will provide an institutional “rubber stamp” on projects that would otherwise be reviewed.

 

Please take a moment to review this notice and comment directly to DEQ.

 

It is also VITAL that your voice be heard by the Michigan Legislature and the Governor, who hold a responsibility to the citizens of Michigan to ensure that programs providing essential protections to our water resources have adequate funding.  Here is the notice:

 

LAND AND WATER MANAGEMENT DIVISION DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT REGARDING PROPOSED TEMPORARY GENERAL PERMIT FOR DESIGNATED MINOR ACTIVITIES AUTHORIZED BY THE U.S. ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS IN LAKES AND STREAMS.

Pursuant to Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams; and Part 303, Wetlands Protection; of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, the MDEQ’s Land and Water Management Division is proposing to issue a Temporary General Permit (GP) to authorize certain minor activities in inland lakes and streams and Great Lakes connecting channels, where the activity is authorized by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE).

 

Parts 301 and 303 authorize the issuance of GPs for categories of activities that are similar in nature, will cause only minimal adverse environmental effects when performed separately, and will have only minimal cumulative adverse effect on the environment. The MDEQ and the USACE have distinct but parallel responsibilities for regulation of dredge and fill activities in certain waters in Michigan under respective state and federal laws. The MDEQ is proposing to limit staff review of specified categories of these regulated activities on a temporary basis, where environmental review and authorization can be provided by the USACE. If this GP is approved, permit applications that meet specified conditions and criteria in the waters defined in the GP will typically receive automatic approval without significant review by MDEQ staff contingent upon approval by the USACE. This measure will allow remaining staff time to be used to address other regulatory requirements and is made necessary by reductions in the Land and Water Management Division budget. When the Temporary GP expires after a two year period, the impact of this action on the environment and on the regulated public will be evaluated.

 

The detailed draft GP can be found at www.michigan.gov/deqinlandlakes, or may be requested from the address given below. Written comments should be submitted directly to: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Land and Water Management Division, P.O. Box 30458, Lansing, MI 48909-7958 to the attention of Peg Bostwick. All comments must be received by Wednesday, May 28, 2008. Information contact: Peg Bostwick, Land and Water Management Division, 517-335-3470.

 

Jennifer McKay, Policy Specialist

and

Dr. Grenetta Thomassey, Policy Director

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

PH: 231-347-1181 FX: 231-347-5928

www.watershedcouncil.org

Email: jenniferm@watershedcouncil.org

grenetta@watershedcouncil.org