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E-M:/ State Plan to Abandon Wetlands Protection Undercuts New Great Lakes Effort

WASHINGTON - March 3 - Just as President Obama proposes a half-billion dollar partnership to improve the water quality of the Great Lakes in his ambitious new budget plan, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is moving to jettison key wetland protections in her state. The net result will be a huge loss of wetlands and water quality protections that will yield only minimal savings for the fiscally challenged state, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
In her February 3, 2009 State of the State speech, Gov. Granholm proposed to drop Michigan's 30-year old law for protecting wetlands, considered among the best in the nation:

"I will recommend returning enforcement of wetlands protections to the federal government where more staff exists to effectively safeguard our natural resources."

In fact, the federal agency that would be left with the responsibility, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is not staffed to assume the state role. More significantly, since the state wetland law is much stronger than federal laws, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality estimates the Governor's plan will -
  • Remove legal protections for nearly one million acres of Michigan wetlands - more than one-sixth of all the wetlands in the state that are classified as "isolated" and thus beyond federal jurisdiction;
  • Strip safeguards for wetlands adjacent to more than one-third (36%) of all Michigan streams; and
  • Leave wetlands surrounding more than 26,000 inland lakes and ponds vulnerable to development.


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