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MEC responds to State Senate vote to cripple environmental oversight

Jun 17, 2009
The following statement from the Michigan Environmental Council is in response to today’s State Senate passage of bills SB 13, 431, 434, 435, 438-439 that would cripple state environmental oversight, increase bureaucracy, privatize some environmental law enforcement and effectively cede control of many environmental rules to the federal government:

This package is a thuggish bit of grandstanding against the perceived shortcomings of the Department of Environmental Quality by politicians more concerned with political posturing than with bettering public health and the state’s water, air and land.

Proportionately, MDEQ budget cuts have been more severe than cuts to any other state agency over the last decade. As a result, pollution hotline calls are unanswered, groundwater contamination spreads with no one to monitor it, and regular inspections of polluters no longer occur.

Today, the Senate’s answer to this crisis – largely along party line votes – was to burden that agency and others with crippling paperwork requirements, entrust environmental regulation to private contractors, and to make our state subservient to the federal government’s laws and rules in most cases.

Washington D.C., some state senators believe, knows better than our own state agencies what’s best for Michiganders.

It’s shameful that the Senate – as guardians of the world’s greatest freshwater resource – would forbid the Great Lakes State from protecting our water any better than Arizona or Nevada.

A recent Michigan State University survey of businesses showed that – especially for an agency whose business is regulation – the MDEQ does a fairly good job of being fair, consistent and timely.

Surely improvements can be made. Senators can help by providing constructive tools to that end.
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