Clearing river will take
Friday, February 29, 2008
KENNETH B. HORN, GUEST COLUMNIST Saginaw News
If we learned nothing else in 2007, it's that we should work side by side in
a nonpolitical way to get things done for our community. However, in recent
weeks I've repeatedly been bemused by frequent letters to the editor from
defenders of the Environmental Protection Agency sit-down strike, most
recently on Feb. 15.
Letters of the defense speak of this federal agency quitting discussions
after an ''unacceptable offer'' by a local company. It is remarkable that
EPA supporters are so intimate with the confidential dioxin negotiations.
The offer, whatever it was, remains unknown to all residents of Michigan
with the obvious exception, of course, of these select few champions of the
EPA's environmental monarchy.
For the record, and to the chagrin of some extremists, readers should recall
that my office did not have the Department of Environmental Quality removed
from the river project. The EPA muscled in after years of DEQ involvement
and unilaterally chose to yank our state agency out of the loop. An
uninformed EPA then leaked information about the case and is currently under
investigation by the U.S. inspector general. Rather coincidentally, and
nearly the same day, the EPA walked away from the clean-up talks and halted
its vaunted river projects. If you are not aware of this yet, at a recent
gathering the EPA demonstrated satisfaction in a couple of clean-ups along
our river. Here's what they accomplished at just one site: More than 300
majestic 100-year-old oak trees were ripped from the ground, root and limb,
and hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of our riverbanks were carted away
and replaced with sterile soil, likely to be washed away as silt next
I toured the site and could not believe the government sanctioned the
destruction I witnessed. The EPA insipidly referred to this thoughtless
obliteration simply as the ''removal of vegetation.''
Guess what they found? With this show of unbridled brute force, the EPA
recovered less than a thimbleful of non-toxic furans. Doubt it? The EPA
cannot tell the difference between the furans and dioxins in the river -- it
said so. Worst of all, it scorns both the world-renowned University of
Michigan and Michigan State University studies on the effects of human and
wildlife eco-systems in our region.
I remember when several trees wrongly were chopped down by the Road
Commission in Saginaw Township not too long ago. The neighbors were so
outraged over the destruction of their trees that their voices quivered in
anger. We should be equally incensed over the EPA's hard-handed tactics
because if you live on the river, prepare yourself, your trees are next on
the EPA chopping block. It's their bold plan. It's what they call
That is why I'm fighting the EPA and the DEQ.
I strongly support the health and safety of our residents. Without a moment
of hesitation, I encourage honest efforts to clean up our rivers. In light
of all that we know through the U-M and MSU studies, I support doing this in
a way that does the least damage to our extraordinary surroundings.
There should be a reasonable plan that includes green spaces, new plantings,
some river digging and lots of rip-rap to keep banks from eroding. The DEQ
and the EPA need to work candidly with the community to develop a vision and
share it with the public. Government needs to get back to the table and then
work toward that vision. It seems only reasonable, if they're the experts.
So, while we wait on their expertise, please check out this quote:
"What happens next is anyone's guess. Hopefully EPA and DEQ will continue to
work together to resolve this long-standing issue. It is imperative for the
agencies to now come forward with a collective and coherent strategy and
engage the public. What are your next steps Director Chester and
Administrator Gade? Please do not assume we know." The Dioxin Update, Lone
Apparently, I am not the only one disappointed in the bureaucracy of this
project. As a legislator, a big part of my job is to watch over departmental
operations. This problem needs to come to some resolution. I consider myself
a conservationist and will join with ecologists to solve this logjam. My
only caveat is that we will not destroy this river valley environment in the
name of saving it. The cure should not be worse than the illness.
I'd like to thank the advocates of the EPA for writing their letters to the
editor, though you should know that your neighbors likely are disappointed
in the condescending tone. It shouldn't be that only those ''in the pocket''
of the EPA are allowed to pursue accountability and transparency in
Just as we need to work in a bipartisan manner in Lansing, we need to work
together locally. I will continue to represent the people of the 94th
District and will stand up for our precious river forest. And I will fight
against out-of-control, politically motivated bureaucracies that are funded
by tax dollars, paid for by you and me.
As always, you are welcome to write me directly at
email@example.com or call me at (866) horn-094
(1-866-467-6094). I'd be glad to chat with you about these issues.
Kenneth B. Horn represents Michigan's 94th state House district. He
lives in Frankenmuth.
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For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site www.trwnews.net for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.