Lone Tree Council says election of Granholm to Dow Chemical board is 'politics as usual'

Published: Thursday, March 24, 2011, 11:58 AM By Kathryn Lynch-Morin | The Saginaw News MLive.com

MIDLAND A member of a local environmental group said Dow Chemical Co. will benefit from Gov. Jennifer Granholm's election to the Board of Directors but the efforts to clean the Tittabawassee River of dioxins from the same company might not fare as well.

Michelle Hurd Riddick, member of the Bay City-based environmental group Lone Tree Council, said Granholm's election to the board is an example of politics as usual. Granholm on Thursday was named the newest member of the Dow Chemical Co. Board of Directors.

"Gov. Granholm walked out of office and right onto the (Dow Chemical) Board of Directors," Hurd Riddick said. "There's a revolving door between government and industry."

The Lone Tree Council formed in 1978 and works to promote the cleanup of environmentally hazardous sites and prevent further environmental contamination.

In recent years, Dow Chemical Co. acknowledged its 1,900-acre Midland plant polluted the watershed with dioxins and furans from the 1930s to the 1970s. The chemical byproducts are linked to cancer, reproductive problems and weakened immune systems in laboratory animals.

Hurd Riddick, who lives in Saginaw Township, said political connections have always been one of the most important parts of Dow Chemical's arsenal.

"I've always thought Granholm was one of the biggest obstacles in getting this river cleaned up," Hurd Riddick said. "This site has never been driven by science, it's always been driven by politics, and those with the most political connections tend to rule the day."

The Environmental Protection Agency heads up the cleanup efforts of the Tittabawassee River and has a three-point strategy for the region this year.

The strategy calls for addressing contamination at high-use properties along the rivers, addressing highly contaminated segments along river banks to keep chemicals from moving down the river system that leads to Saginaw Bay and working with Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment to develop long-term cleanup plans for the rivers and bay.

Hurd Riddick said the only good side of Granholm's election to the board may come in the form of more solar and advanced battery innovations.

"(Alternative energy) has been one of the pillars of her administration, and that's a good thing," Hurd Riddick said. "Unfortunately, what brings people to these boards are not the good things. If Jennifer Granholm had stood up to Dow Chemical on the cleanup, she wouldn't be sitting on that board today."
 

http://www.mlive.com/business/mid-michigan/index.ssf/2011/03/lone_tree_council_says_electio.html


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