Saturday, May 1, 2010

Standing Up for the Public Interest

Things are getting heated up north at Kennecott's Eagle Rock mine. Last week activist Cynthia Pryor was arrested near the site even though she was on public land. Now, Native American groups are camped on land that was leased to Kennecott by the state. They plan to stay there as long as it takes.

Everybody should give Cynthia Pryor a tip of the cap, there is clearly something sinister going on when people are getting arrested on public lands. People standing up for themselves for what they know is right is what has made this country great.

Being from the Detroit area this is all very similar to the public park that Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun put a fence around and had armed goons patrolling. In a court hearing about a month ago, the Metro Times reported that if the fence that was erected around the city park was torn down by city officials they would probably be shot. What is going on with our public lands?

Here is Cynthia's story on youtube:

This is the blog for the indian group camped at the Eagle Rock site

Michigan Messenger: Native Americans camp on land leased to mining company

Save The Wild UP

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clean Water Action Blasts Oakland County Resolution

***CWA Press Release***
Oakland Commissioners Sharply Criticized for Anti-Water Vote Resolution Opposes Bill That Would Prevent Outsourcing Waters

PONTIAC, MI—Clean Water Action sharply criticized a resolution approved today, by a panel of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, that opposes proposed state legislation that would strengthen water protections in the wake of government and corporate actions that threaten drinking water sources.

In a vote along party lines, the county board’s General Government Committee approved the resolution under pressure from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an advocacy group financially supported by corporate and right-wing national funders.

“The message these Oakland County commissioners send with this resolution is exactly the message that China and CEOs want to hear, “said Cyndi Roper, Special Projects Director for Clean Water Action. “What the vote today says is that the groundwater that feeds Oakland County’s streams, keeps Oakland County lakes alive and is the circulatory system for our entire Great Lakes ecosystem doesn’t deserve to be safeguarded from a state government that is sometimes all too willing to allow our waters to be sold for profit and exported to thirsty countries like China.

“That’s not the message Oakland County should be sending to Lansing because the corporate lobbyists there are only too eager to kill any bill that keeps them from making more money for their CEOs.”

The county board panel’s resolution opposed House Bill 5319, which amends the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to classify groundwater as a public trust. Although lakes, rivers and streams have public trust protection, Michigan courts in recent years have eroded protections for groundwater as a result of suits filed by international water exporters like the Nestle Corporation. A nearly identical bill to HB 5319 passed the House with bipartisan support in 2008, but fell one vote shy of passing in the state Senate.

“We strongly urge the Board of Commissioner to reject those who want to turn Michigan’s waters over to corporate interests so, like our jobs, water can be outsourced in unlimited amounts to China and other places,” said Roper. “This is wrong, the people of Oakland County and Michigan know it’s wrong, and we hope their elected officials get the message and keep this resolution from being passed by the full board.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy claims the House bill is a threat to property rights, would require permits to use trout streams and would impose additional taxes and fines. None of that is true, said Roper.

“Some claim HB 5319 or public trust would require permits, taxes, and fees for withdrawal of groundwater,” said Roper. “There is nothing in HB 5319 that states or implies any such thing. Neither HB 5319 nor the public trust in water requires or authorizes permits, taxes, or fees. The public trust has nothing to do with groundwater regulation. It simply affirms and declares the overriding public trust interest in water so that government cannot interfere with or sell off or subordinate our rights of private reasonable use or public use and enjoyment of our water.“

Free Press Commentary about House Bill 5319 by lawyer/activist James Olson

Take Action: Flow For Water

Michigan House Bill 5319

Birds Eye Plant Poisons Fennville Wells

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Website Helps People Get Involved in Local Coastline Cleanups

The environmental organization Great Lakes United launched a new website called Find My Cleanup, which aims to connect community members to local cleanups going on their area.

The site already has several postings of spring cleanups going on around the Great Lakes. There is a listing for a Detroit area cleanup for Lake St. Clair on Sunday May 23, 2010. The event which is billed as the Nautical Coast Cleanup is presented by the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee. The event is in its 15th year and has gathered over 474 tons of debris over the years from the Lake St. Clair shoreline.

15th Annual Nautical Coast Cleanup

Find Local Cleanups in your community:
Find My Cleanup

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Closing the Great Lakes Compact Loophole

Yesterday to observe World Water Day, Michigan activists held a press conference in Traverse City to bring Michigan House Bill 5319 back into the public spotlight. The bill would close the door on the Great Lakes Compact loophole. In a press release Traverse City attorney and water activist James Olsen said “the Compact left the door wide open for out-of-Basin exports of our water intended for consumers. If Michigan does not close it, global special interests will exploit global water scarcity at the expense of Michigan’s livelihood and quality of life.”

Take Action: Flow For Water

Press Release:
Michigan Water Protectors Push for Public Trust Protection

Michigan House Bill 5319

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Report Shows Energy Industry Lacking in Mercury Emission Controls

A recent report released by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) ranked the nation's top fifty power plants based on mercury emissions. 16 of the 50 power plants were in the Great Lakes region. According to the report by the EIP, mercury removal is possible:

"Years of inaction and delay have prevented Americans from enjoying the power plant mercury cleanup that is required by the Clean Air Act. In 1990, Congress passed the Clean Air Act amendments that set in motion EPA’s requirement to regulate toxic emissions from power plants. But, in 2005, EPA backed away from a protective power plant mercury regulation and instead adopted a weak cap-and-trade scheme, a move that a federal Court of Appeals later overturned.

...Today’s power plant mercury emissions levels are no cause for celebration. When EPA adopted its weak cap-and-trade power plant mercury rule, during the Bush administration, the agency predicted that power plant mercury emissions would drop to between 31 and 34 tons per year by 2010. EPA also concluded that the use of available pollution controls aimed at reducing soot and smog pollution could reduce mercury by 70 percent, to 15 tons per year, and that even stricter cleanup requirements could reduce mercury by 90 percent, to 5 tons per year. The bottom line: Power plant mercury emissions remain unnecessarily high; emissions are significantly higher than the levels that would be achieved if power plants were required to install currently available pollution control technology like bag-houses, scrubbers, and sorbent controls."

This report comes at a time when there is much debate over whether to build new power plants. Here in Michigan there has been a lot of opposition to new coal plants in Bay City and Rogers City. While Michigan only has one power plant listed in the report, it ranked 8th in the nation for mercury emissions. The DTE Energy owned Monroe power plant emitted 1,147 lbs of mercury in 2008. That was an over 23 percent increase from 2007 and a third of Michigan's total mercury emissions for all of 2008.

EIP Report:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

St. Clair Shores Site Gets $864,000 for Cleanup

The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that the EPA has awarded $864,000 for PCB cleanup in St. Clair Shores to clean up the 10 mile drain as well as contaminated parts of the Lange and Revere Street canals.

The EPA is installing 25 weirs which are small metal plates in the sewer line which will block sediment but allow water to still flow. They are hoping to follow a sediment trail to the source since they still do not know where the PCB's are coming from. In 2002 PCB's were removed but have since returned. On March 3 of this year upon finding more PCB's the site was recommended to be put on the National Priorities List but is still waiting approval.

Here is the EPA document describing the site as well as the EPA's findings