Lone Tree Council & TRW
December 1st, 2005 # 55
ALL ABOUT HB 4617 S1 BECAUSE IT’S ALL ABOUT DOW CHEMICAL
Seems a great many people want us to believe this legislation is not about Dow Chemical nor was this legislation drafted for Dow Chemical. Dow Chemical says it’s not taken a position, they cop ignorance by saying they’ve not seen the amended bill introduced by Senator Goschka; the bill which would grant them final authority over contaminated property on the floodplain.
Legislators trying to protect Dow Chemical are proposing to change the way the State manages our cleanup laws with negative consequences for everyone in Michigan. HB 4617/SB1 would remove the state's ability to designate some property as a "facility" or potentially contaminated. An amendment would also allow the polluter to decide whether a property can receive the designation. The result will be more expensive cleanups, slower cleanups, and increased liability for individual property owners whose property may be contaminated. Residents may actually lose the ability to force polluters to pay! In addition, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" provisions of the bill would prevent property owners from knowing that their property is contaminated, would prevent future owners from being informed, and would prevent the DEQ from doing anything about it, even if the property owners wanted help.
But these bills seem to be just fine with Senator Goschka, Rep. Moolenaar and Kahn. It would also appear to be OK with the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce and County Commissioner Ken Horn who feel the amended bill would expedite cleanup. Dow Chemical says they've not taken a position on the legislation and in yesterday’s Saginaw News, Dow went on to say they've not seen the amended version of the bill. Odd! Dow’s lobbyist, Jerry Howell, was in attendance at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting when the bill was passed. He must have forgotten to turn in his homework.
Dow has everything to gain by the passage of this legislation and they lose nothing! But public health, natural resources and the integrity of our watershed along will suffer greatly. Special interests are at play for the benefit of Dow Chemical.
Hard as everyone tries to assure us that this legislation is not about Dow Chemical, let’s look at who is backing this legislation and who is lobbying for it in Lansing:
Representative John Molenaar: Former Dow Chemical employee representing the City of Midland. The same John Moolenaar whose mantra is “DEQ is out of control” . The same John Moolenaar who threatened last year to legislate away the DEQ division that enforces Dow’s license and the ultimate cleanup of the rivers. The same John Moolenaar who wants the cleanup criteria to be 1,000 ppt because then Midland wouldn’t have a problem. No homes would be listed as 'facilities' and life would go on in this quiet all American community.
The City of Midland: Who have consistently opposed any testing until Dow studies demonstrate that dioxin is not a hazard. Having accused the DEQ of failing to use “sound science” the City of Midland like Dow Chemical, refused to participate in the EPA SITE Project( Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation) for the rapid and inexpensive detection of dioxin in the environment. Sound Science can only be Dow Science. Midland’s lobbyist on HB 4616 / S1 Jeff McAlvey from McAlvey and Associates in Lansing. Mr. Averly previously worked for Governor Engler.
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce: Garret Greer, Dow Chemical, serves as Vice Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors Executive Committee. Veronica Horn, VP for the Chambers’ Community Initiatives serves as the Chair for the Dow funded UofM study which HB 4617 sanctions the use of to determine cleanup levels. Doesn't matter that the study does not include vulnerable populations……….like children. Contrary to the erroneous statement in the Chambers Feb-March publication of Business Advocate, the DEQ is not over seeing the research in the Dow funded exposure investigation.
Michigan State Chamber of Commerce: Whose Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs wrote in a Detroit News Editorial “The DEQ is attempting to launch a vague, ill-conceived plan that could end up designating several thousand homes as a "facility," which under Michigan law means that "hazardous" materials are present.” ( DN June 24th 2004). This ill conceived plan was agreed to by Dow Chemical when they signed their license in 2003.
Michigan Manufacturers Association: Still believe Dow hasn’t taken a position on HB 4617? Gary Veurink Dow VP for Corporate Manufacturing and Engineering, is a Board Member of the Michigan Manufactures Association. The MMA also filed an Amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court in support of Dow Chemical against the citizens on the Tittabawassee River.
The Michigan Chemistry Council: This trade association is made up of company members who pay an annual dues based on the number of employees they have in the state. Need I say more. From their website, “MCC in cooperation with the Republicans in the Michigan Senate are trying to find the laws and regulations that are getting in the way of your company making money”. Dow is the dominant member of this association because of their size.
Michigan Association of Realtors: From their web site about HB 4617. “Public or private property (namely an individual’s principal residence) could only be tested by the Department of Environmental Quality, Community Health, Agriculture, or State Police if the property poses an imminent and substantial threat to public health or the environment”. Guess the game advisory, fish advisory and soil advisory are not enough.
Russ Harding: Mackinaw Center Midland MI: The former Director of the DEQ who could not jump through enough hoops to do Dow Chemical’s bidding. Let me count the ways:
1. Removing the Tittabawassee River and floodplain from Dow’s Corrective Action License in 2002.
2. Lying to the public about a Consent Order being negotiated with Dow Chemical (October 2002)
3. Blackening out and redacting public documents that made any reference to Dow’s dioxin in the Tittabawassee River (Nov. 2001)
4. Advocated raising the clean up standard for dioxin (March 2002)
5. Denied comment from DEQ toxicologists on the Dow studies in the Consent Order (PRA Nov. 2002)
6. Removed DEQ Toxicologist from public meeting panel because she did not agree with Dow’s study parameters (Nov. 2002)
No doubt there are others. About Harding’s new home at The Mackinaw Center? The lion’s share of funding to the MC is rumored to come from Dow Chemical but the Center never release their funding source. Russ Harding on the cost of cleanup for Dow Chemical: "That would be a huge expense for them for what they think is not money well-spent." ( Chemical Policy Alert Magazine October 2004)
The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners: Ten of them supported the bill. The most vocal being Commissioner Ken Horn from Frankenmuth who also happened to be the most well versed on the bill, although there were several erroneous statements made by Commissioner Horn, he did a great job advocating for all of the above special interest groups. The groups most concerned about money, real estate, corporate profit and business as usual. No concern for public health or this watershed.
Senator Goschka “ Someone has to give the perceived liable party its due process, its day in court, because it will end up paying the bill,". "My feeling is that it is wrong to assume contamination and make a company pay for it when there may not be contamination. It needs to be proven. " Right Mike, so remove the facility designation that compels the company to do the testing to find the contamination. And by all means ignore the fact that Dow agreed to the river and floodplain being a “facility” and signed a contract with the DEQ, ( i.e., the people of Michigan) assuming responsibility for those facilities in turn for their permit to do business. It’s called corporate responsibility!
There are others. Representative Kahn, Senator Stamas, Senator Barcia and Tittabawassee Twp.
HB 4617 /S1 is an attempt to rewrite the law after the fact to benefit Dow Chemical. It is intended to interfere with the class action and it is intended to implement one more avenue to create chaos and delay cleanup. Commissioner Horn stated this week this bill isn’t about Dow Chemical. Yet, in a letter to a local official from Senate Majority Leader, Ken Sikkema, he acknowledges it is about Dow. “As you know, some soil samples taken from the Tittabawassee River watershed have shown elevated dioxin levels, which is most likely a result of past contamination by the Dow Chemical Company. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently designated more than 400 properties in the general vicinity of the Tittabawassee River as contaminated, or more specifically a facility, without performing environmental testing on each property………”
No concern voiced by any of the above for public health and safety. Demonstrates some ignorance if you ask me. Part 201, the law they want to amend, is all about environmental response by the state for the protection of citizens and natural resources. I will let each and everyone of you draw your own conclusions but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.......it's a duck. Below is the link to yesterday's Saginaw News article. Comments from DEQ were right on! Stay tuned!
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
THE SAGINAW NEWS
Dow Chemical Co. might have a say in deciding which properties it has polluted.
"What would be the incentive for the polluter to agree to that?" asked DEQ spokesman Robert McCann. "You are asking them to admit guilt and take financial responsibility."
The more likely scenario, he said, is that polluters would use the language to shield themselves from liability, potentially blocking the inclusion of properties in a facility without on-site sampling.
McCann said the bill represents an "unprecedented" shift in environmental enforcement that amounts to protecting the polluter.
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council
Please pass this on!
Source: Lone Tree Council / TRW
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 source organization's web site link is listed above. The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.