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Appeal for Reason on Environment

Text of letter sent by state groups to Michigan’s federal lawmakers

June 25, 2003 |

Honorable Pete Hoekstra
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Hoekstra,

We are writing to ask you to take affirmative measures to protect Michigan’s and the nation’s environment and natural resources from harmful policies pursued by the Bush administration. We need your voice and commitment to protect Michigan’s air, water and land for this and future generations.

  • The Pentagon has proposed exempting the Department of Defense (DoD) from five cornerstone environmental laws designed to protect people living on and near military sites from exposure to toxic waste and air pollution; preserve critical habitat for endangered species; and protect marine mammals from harm caused by military activities. The DoD already has left a legacy of pollution.  Experts have identified Camp Grayling as one site of many in immediate need of testing for groundwater contamination from perchlorate, a toxic explosive used in rocket fuel and munitions; the Pentagon’s proposal would make it difficult, if not impossible, to address perchlorate contamination on operational military ranges.  We ask you to oppose legislation exempting DoD from these five laws.
  • On New Year’s Eve, the Bush administration finalized the first phase of a two-pronged attack on the New Source Review program of the Clean Air Act. Long-lobbied for by owners of dirty power plants and other big polluters, this policy will permit nearly 500 power plants, refineries and other facilities in Michigan to actually increase their emissions of smog- and soot-forming pollution and toxic mercury.  Already, pollution from dirty power plants causes an estimated 870 premature deaths and 18,500 asthma attacks in Michigan each year. We ask you to oppose these rules and any legislation to implement them.
  • In January 2003, the Bush administration proposed sweeping changes to the Clean Water Act that could eliminate protections for smaller streams and wetlands across Michigan and allow more pollution to enter the state’s waterways.  Michigan DEQ estimates that these changes would remove federal protections from at least 930,856 acres of wetlands in our state and from 26,384 lakes and ponds. We ask you to declare your opposition to the shrinking of Clean Water Act  protections for our waterways.
  • Under pressure from polluters in all industries, the Bush administration continues to undercut the letter and spirit of Superfund, the nation’s pre-eminent law to clean up the worst toxic waste sites.  Michigan has 67 toxic waste sites on the National Priority List.  Cordova Chemical received no funding and Velsicol Chemical and US Aviex received only partial funding for cleanup in FY2002. The Bush administration’s 2004 budget, proposed in February 2003, will shift at least 79% of the burden of paying for these cleanups to taxpayers, rather than polluters. We ask you to support full funding of Superfund cleanups.
  • The tragic events of September 11, 2001 raised serious concerns about safety and security at the country’s nuclear power plants. Many facilities cannot even meet the current security requirements considered inadequate by most experts.  Nonetheless, in December 2002, under pressure from the nuclear power industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled that it does not have to consider the threat of terrorism when deciding to license or relicense a nuclear power plant.  This decision compromises the health and safety of communities in Michigan living near aging nuclear power plants up for re-licensing, such as D.C. Cook and Davis Besse. We ask you to support measures needed to protect the public from public health and safety risks caused by nuclear power plants.
  • The introduction of exotic aquatic species of organisms from ballast water of  ships entering and moving about the Great Lakes continues to cost communities and industries around the Great Lakes billions of dollars annually.  And, reports indicate human pathogens have been found in ballast water as well.  Water treatment methods successfully used for over a half century to treat drinking and wastewater could be employed to eliminate over 95% of the organisms found in ballast water.  Increased sanitation and maintenance procedures would further reduce the organisms.  Several Federal agencies including the Coast Guard, COE, DoT are involved in regulating Great Lakes shipping. Each seems to have its own agenda and regulations.  We ask you to have all the Federal agencies involved in Great lakes shipping form a common agenda and set of regulations and we ask you to seek passage of regulations to cause the elimination of exotic aquatic organisms entering the Great Lakes by the mandatory treatment of all ballast water tanks before entering the Great Lakes or moving between ports in the Great Lakes.

Strong federal environmental laws passed in the 1960s and 1970s were needed and designed to stop the competition among states to cut corners on public protections in order to benefit special interests. We continue to need a strong federal floor of protection for our air, water and land. We urge you to resist the Bush administration’s attempts to undo more than a generation of protection for the environment of the state and of the nation.

We look forward to hearing from you with a response to each of our requests for your support on the issues listed above.



Wilfred Cwikiel, Special Projects Director 
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
426 Bay St.
Petoskey, MI 49770

Hans Voss, Executive Director
Michigan Land Use Institute
P.O. Box 500
Beulah, MI 49617
Brian Imus, Executive Director
Public Interest Research Group in Michigan
122 S. Main St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Jeff Irwin, Executive Director
Michigan League of Conservation Voters
213 W. Liberty St., Suite 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Kathryn Savoie, Ph.D.
Environmental Program Director
6450 Maple Street
Dearborn MI  48126

John Witucki, Treasurer
Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination
904 E. Florence
Bay City, MI 48707

James N. Bull, President
Detroit Audubon Society
1320 N. Campbell Rd.
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Kim Winchell, Director
Michigan Interfaith Coalition for Creation
10514 Webster Rd.
Freeland, MI 48623

Elizabeth Harris
Executive Director
East Michigan Environmental Action Council
21220 W. 14 Mile Road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301

Sue McGillicuddy
REP America, Michigan Chapter
5115 Country Drive
Okemos, MI 48864

Rick Barber
Scenic Michigan
445 E. Mitchell
Petoskey, MI 49770

Lana Pollack, President
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912

E. John Trimberger, President
Michigan Division
Izaak Walton League of America
6260 Blythefield NE
Rockford, MI 49341

Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director
Clean Water Action
1345 Monroe Ave., NW, Suite 216
Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
p (231) 941-6584 
e comments@mlui.org