Environment Picture

Bell ringers! Environmental successes won in recent weeks

Tract intact
A plan to disrupt the Mason Tract wilderness along the Au Sable River with an exploratory oil and gas well was finally scuttled in December after federal agencies declined to appeal a judge’s ruling against the drilling. MEC member groups Anglers of the Au Sable and the Sierra Club spearheaded the opposition after Savoy Energy of Traverse City refused to consider a modified plan that would have moved the drilling platform away from the wilderness tract. (See related story on front page of this issue).

Phosphorus free
Dishwashing detergent sold in Michigan must be phosphorus-free under legislation passed in December by the Michigan Legislature. Phosphorus in wastewater contributes to excessive algae and plant growth in lakes and streams—sucking precious oxygen from the water and entangling boat propellers and swimmers in vegetation gone wild. And there’s no need for it: Many of Consumer Reports magazine’s top rated detergents contain no phosphorus.

Say ahhh!
Mercury in dental fillings must be captured and removed by dental offices starting in 2013 under legislation approved late last year. The potent neurotoxin is currently washed into septic fields and sewer systems when it goes down the drain during a dental procedure—often ending up in lakes and streams. Going to the dentist won’t be any more fun, but it will be less harmful to Michigan’s waterways.

CRACKED BELL: Unconscionable
Public health proved less important than special interest politics in a failed attempt to make Michigan’s bars, restaurants and casinos smoke-free. Senate Republicans and House Democrats each passed versions of the bill (the Democrats exempted casinos); but neither would flinch in the end-of-session political gamesmanship. The losers: restaurant patrons hoping to avoid secondhand smoke and restaurant workers who will continue to become ill and die early from their exposure. See you in 2009!
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