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GLIN==> Community leaders call for renewed federal commitment to cleanup of Great Lakes toxic hot spots



PRESS ADVISORY
For Immediate Release
August 24, 2000

Contact Kathy Evans, chair
Statewide Public Advisory Council
c/o Muskegon Conservation District
231-773-0008


Community Leaders Call for Renewed Federal Commitment
to Cleanup of Great Lakes Toxic Hot Spots

(Ann Arbor, MI–August 24, 2000) Community leaders from across the State
of Michigan are calling on their federal legislators to renew their
commitment to cleaning up toxic hot spots in the Great Lakes.  In a
letter released today, the leaders of community-based public advisory
councils in Michigan’s 14 “Areas of Concern” highlighted diminishing
federal support for vital Great Lakes programs and the need for
dedicated resources for large-scale cleanup efforts.  The letter notes
that Michigan’s Area of Concern program, administered by the state
Department of Environmental Quality, is “grinding to a halt” due to
federal funding cuts.

Kathy Evans, chair of the Statewide Public Advisory Council, which
represents Michigan’s 14 designated Areas of Concern, noted that “we’ve
made substantial progress in identifying pollution sources and
developing plans to clean them up.  We’re in a position to restore these
resources, but only if the federal government is a true partner in the
process.”  Evans added that “the federal government needs to renew its
commitment to restoring the health of the Great Lakes and provide the
resources to make this possible.  We’ve come too far to stop now–let’s
get the job done.”

Evans and her colleagues noted that their communities are unable to
fully enjoy the benefits of the Great Lakes due to pollution that
“poisons our water, restricts fish consumption, closes our beaches,
hinders economic development and threatens our childrens’ health.”  Such
conditions are “unacceptable,” and the letter called on the legislators
to “make the federal government a true partner with the state and local
communities in restoring the health of the Great Lakes.”

The letter calls for increased funding in four vital areas: the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency’s Coastal Environmental Management
program; U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office; the Army Corps
of Engineers; and $50 million in dedicated funding for large-scale
cleanup projects, as proposed in the President’s budget.

The Areas of Concern were designated under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes
Water Quality Agreement and include water bodies where historic and
ongoing pollution has restricted beneficial uses, such as fish and
wildlife consumption and drinking water.  Fourteen Areas of Concern are
located in Michigan waters, including the Detroit, Rouge, Clinton, St.
Clair and Raisin rivers in southeast Michigan; Saginaw River and Bay;
Muskegon Lake, White Lake and the Kalamazoo River in the western half of
the state; and Torch Lake, Deer Lake and the Menominee, Manistique and
St. Marys rivers in the Upper Peninsula.

The text of the letter is provided below along with contact information
for the signatories and the chair and vice chair of the Statewide Public
Advisory Council.  These individuals are available for further comment.


Public Advisory Council Chairs for Michigan’s Areas of Concern

Southeast Michigan

William Smith, Chair, Clinton River AOC Public Advisory Council,
810-468-4028
Glenn Bowles, Chair, Detroit River AOC Public Advisory Council,
517-263-2161
Daniel Stefanski, Chair, River Raisin AOC Public Advisory Council,
734-241-5926
Kurt Heise, Chair, Rouge River AOC Public Advisory Council, 313-277-7413

Fred Kemp, U.S. Cochair, St. Clair River AOC Binational Public Advisory
Council, 810-984-9730

Western Michigan

Roland Crummel, Chair, Muskegon Lake AOC Public Advisory Council,
231-744-2454
John Olech, President, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, 616-381-6932
Tanya Cabala, Chair, White Lake AOC Public Advisory Council,
231-722-5116

Saginaw River and Bay

William Wright, Chair, Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed,
517-797-6800

Upper Peninsula

Scott Chilman, Chair, Deer Lake AOC Public Advisory Council,
906-486-9981
Merilee Blowers, Chair, Manistique River AOC Public Advisory Council,
906-341-4223
Nancy Douglas, Chair, Menominee River AOC Citizens’ Advisory Committee,
906-863-2679
Mike Ripley, U.S. Cochair, St. Marys River AOC Binational Public
Advisory Council, 906-632-0072
David Jukuri, Chair, Torch Lake AOC Public Action Council, 906-482-0001

Statewide Public Advisory Council for Michigan’s Areas of Concern
Program

Kathy Evans, Chair, Statewide Public Advisory Council, 231-773-0008
(Muskegon Lake Area of Concern)
David A. Mekarski, AICP, Vice Chair, Statewide Public Advisory Council,
734-676-4422 (Detroit River Area of Concern)

Great Lakes Commission

Matt Doss, Program Manager, Great Lakes Commission, 734-665-9135

# # #

Text of letter sent to Michigan’s congressional delegation:

August 24, 2000


Dear Senator/Congressman:

We are writing to urge your support for the cleanup of pollution and
restoration of environmental quality in Michigan’s designated Areas of
Concern.  We represent community-based public advisory councils that are
guiding the development and implementation of Remedial Action Plans in
the state’s 14 Great Lakes Areas of Concern, pursuant to the U.S.-Canada
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

More than a decade of hard work has been invested in the Areas of
Concern (AOC) Program in Michigan.  Public advisory councils (PAC) have
been established in each AOC and involve more than 500 citizens, local
officials, and other parties.  Remedial Action Plans have been developed
and, with continuing support, several AOCs may be cleaned up and
delisted within the next several years.

Diminishing support for vital Great Lakes programs and a lack of
dedicated resources for large-scale cleanup efforts threaten this
progress, however.  Funding for Michigan's statewide AOC Program
(provided by U.S. EPA and administered by the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality) was cut by nearly 50 percent this year and is
expected to be reduced by an additional 50 percent next year.  As a
result, technical support for developing and implementing cleanup
activities is grossly inadequate.  Simply put, Michigan’s AOC program is
grinding to a halt.  As chairs of local PACs, we are frustrated by the
federal government’s apparent lack of commitment to Great Lakes cleanup
efforts and the associated economic and public health impacts on our
communities.  In brief, we need your help.

To renew the federal government’s commitment to clean water and a
healthy Great Lakes environment, we ask you to support the following:

• Appropriate $50 million for implementation actions to restore and
protect environmental quality in Great Lakes AOCs.  While substantial
research, planning and coordination has taken place in the AOCs,
dedicated funding for costly cleanup activities has been largely
absent.  As a result, progress in restoring environmental quality in the
AOCs has largely stalled.  The proposed funding will address this
critical unmet need.  The funding proposal enjoys strong, bipartisan
support within the region, including both the Council of Great Lakes
Industries and the Sierra Club.  In addition, the government of Canada
has committed substantial resources in its current budget to cleanup
efforts in the AOCs.  This funding will complement the proposed $50
million and help address pollution problems in the binational AOCs,
including three in Michigan waters.

• Provide a minimum of $7.5 million for U.S. EPA’s Coastal Environmental
Management program in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds to
support implementation of Remedial Action Plans and Lakewide Management
Plans in the Great Lakes.  Cutbacks in Michigan’s AOC program are a
direct result of reductions in funds in this area.  The President’s
budget request of $4.1 million represents a nearly 60 percent decline
from 1992 funding levels.  Enhanced funding will support an effective,
state-led AOC program in Michigan that will maintain progress in
restoring and delisting the state’s 14 AOCs.

• Provide $15.1 million for U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program
Office (GLNPO), the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating
federal and state activities to protect, maintain and restore
environmental quality in the Great Lakes.  By statute, GLNPO oversees
U.S. commitments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and
provides critical technical and financial assistance to Michigan’s
AOCs.  The President’s budget request of $13.2 million represents a
large reduction from the previous year and will adversely impact GLNPO’s
vital work in areas such as toxics reductions, contaminated sediments
and fish advisories.

• Provide $1.5 million to the Army Corps of Engineers to support Great
Lakes Remedial Action Plans and sediment remediation efforts under
Section 401 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1990, as amended.
This program has supported important contaminated sediment assessments
and design studies in many Great Lakes AOCs.  While funding has been
level for the past six years, demands continue to rise, with $1.5
million in projects identified for FY 2001.

Cleaning up the AOCs is a federal responsibility under the Great Lakes
Water Quality Agreement.  While the program can best be implemented at
the state and local level, it should not be an unfunded mandate.
Restoring environmental quality in the AOCs should be a top priority and
we ask you to support funding to make this possible.

As you enjoy your August legislative recess, we hope you will fully
appreciate the Great Lakes and the many benefits they provide to
Michigan residents.  Bear in mind, however, that our communities are
unable to fully enjoy these benefits due to pollution that poisons our
water, restricts fish consumption, closes our beaches, hinders economic
development and threatens our childrens’ health.  These conditions are
unacceptable and we call on you to help make the federal government a
true partner with the state and local communities in restoring the
health of the Great Lakes.

Thank you for your attention to these legislative priorities.  Our
contact information is attached and we look forward to your response,
which we will share with our council members.  Should you wish a single
point of contact, please contact the Statewide Public Advisory Council
for Michigan’s Areas of Concern Program, care of the Great Lakes
Commission, 400 Fourth St., Ann Arbor, MI, 48103; ph. 734-665-9135
(attn. Matt Doss).

Sincerely,

William Smith, Chair
Clinton River AOC Public Advisory Council

Scott Chilman, Chair
Deer Lake AOC Public Advisory Council

Glenn Bowles, Chair
Detroit River AOC Public Advisory Council

John Olech, President
Kalamazoo River Watershed Council

Merilee Blowers, Chair
Manistique River AOC Public Advisory Council

Nancy Douglas, Chair
Menominee River AOC Citizens’ Advisory Committee

Roland Crummel, Chair
Muskegon Lake AOC Public Advisory Council

Daniel Stefanski, Chair
River Raisin AOC Public Advisory Council

Kurt Heise, Chair
Rouge River AOC Public Advisory Council

William Wright, Chair
Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed

Fred Kemp, U.S. Cochair
St. Clair River AOC Binational Public Advisory Council

Mike Ripley, U.S. Cochair
St. Marys River AOC Binational Public Advisory Council

David Jukuri, Chair
Torch Lake AOC Public Action Council

Tanya Cabala, Chair
White Lake AOC Public Advisory Council

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