March 8, 2011

First 2 Snyder Laws Weaken Protections for Michigan's Water

March 8, 2011
CONTACTS:
Cyndi Roper 517-999-3646
Anne Woiwode 517-484-2372
David Holtz 313-300-4454

First 2 Snyder Laws Weaken Protections for Michigan's Water


LANSING - Citizens groups criticized Gov. Rick Snyder for weakening federal water standards when he signed legislation today affecting the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program - the first bills he is signing into law as governor.

"The Snyder Administration is opening the door to more threats against Michigan's water supply, and closing the door to more accountability," said Anne Woiwode, Director of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club. "This new law is reversing course in our state after eight years of bringing dangerous pollution from livestock operations under better control. This is a recipe for disaster and we will ask the Environmental Protection Agency to review the law to determine whether it violates federal statues."

Snyder signed into law House Bill 4212 and Senate Bill 122,  allow agricultural operations under the voluntary Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) to meet lower water quality standards than any other water users.  Discharges of livestock wastes and other agricultural contaminants from these unpermitted facilities can cause sickness, fish kills and other damage to the environment.  Permits and regulations for the largest concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) will remain unchanged, but operations just one cow or one pig fewer would not have to meet the same requirements to prevent pollution and pay fines.

"Gov. Snyder's first significant act as governor is to sign into law loopholes in water protection regulations - and that's extremely disappointing for Michigan families and small businesses that depend on healthy lakes and natural resources," said Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action. "Michigan citizens have said time and time again that they want more protections for our Great Lakes and water, not less. Unfortunately, Gov. Snyder is turning a deaf ear to the people of Michigan and putting our most precious natural resource at risk."

"The governor's decision to weaken Michigan's effort to protect our water sends the wrong signal to Michigan industries, from tourism and fishing to manufacturing," said David Holtz, executive director of Progress Michigan. "Michigan's lakes, rivers and streams are the engine of our economy, and we must do everything in our power to protect it. Instead, this new law sends Michigan backwards and endangers local economies and our families' quality of life."