News Picks

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blog Posts from Michigan League of Conservation Voters

Scoring our Lawmakers in D.C.

Michigan League of Conservation Voters teamed up with the National LCV to release the 2007 Environmental Scorecard. This scorecard is based on a scale of 0 to 100, and it was scored on the number of pro-environment votes cast out of the total number votes during 2007. Absences are counted as a negative vote. The 2007 scorecard includes fifteen Senate Votes and twenty House votes on a range of issues, including energy, global warming, environmental funding, mining reform and the farm bill.

Let's get down to business…how did the Michigan delegation score?

Our two U.S. Senators – Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow each scored 67 percent with a lifetime score of 77 percent for Levin and 81 percent for Stabenow. Their no votes on one set of the CAFE and Energy Efficiency legislation as well as no votes on subsidy reform for the Farm Bill brought their scores down significantly.

A few more highlights include Representatives Dingell and Sandy Levin scoring 90 percent with lifetime scores of 72 percent for Dingell and 87 percent for Levin. On the other end of the spectrum Congressman Camp has clearly decided he is against protecting the environment with a score of 0 and lifetime score of 10 percent. Hoekstra, Walberg and Rogers all scored 5 percent. Mr. Knollenberg who is number 2 on National LCV's dirty dozen list scored 20 percent with a lifetime score of 8 percent.

For more scores and details visit –

Dow, Nestle Should Be Held Accountable, Not Praised
Last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Dow Chemical and Nestle for being part of global water solution. The headlines broke just a few days after thousands of Michiganders filed a class action lawsuit against Dow Chemical Company for their massive contamination of the Tittabawassee River.

Dow and Nestle aren't part of the global water solution: they are part of the Michigan water crisis.

Dow Chemical Company should not be praised for causing the largest dioxin contamination in the country! Nestle shouldn't be praised for bottling our water and taking it away from the Great Lakes region! These companies should not be praised for their misdeeds; they need to be held accountable for their actions.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Great Lakes Pact

Important article by Tom Henry of the Toledo Blade on the Great Lake pact and Republican efforts in Ohio and Wisconsin to stall it by amendment.

Maryland: Global Warming Solutions Act

Smart Growth Measures Part of Strategy Endorsed in Maryland's Global Warming Solutions Act
Source: Baltimore Sun 1/30/2008

With 3,100 miles of shoreline making Maryland ''the fourth-most-vulnerable state to the effects of global warming,'' the lead sponsors of its Global Warming Solutions Act, Senate Environment Subcommittee Democratic Chairman Paul. G. Pinsky and House of Delegates Democratic Majority Leader Kumar Barve, urge the General Assembly ''to take real action on global warming'' this session and pass the act that would cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050, through new statewide efficiency and resource-management programs, including Smart Growth measures.

''Why now? Because we can't continue to wait and debate,'' they write in a Baltimore Sun oped column, warning that delay would damage Maryland's economy and environment, particularly the Chesapeake Bay.

In contrast, they stress, ''the Global Warming Solutions Act would mean significant investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and green buildings, creating 'green collar' jobs for Marylanders and saving taxpayers money in the long run, while reversing an environmentally destructive trend.''

With the White House failing to join international accords on climate change, ''(w)e no longer can wait for the federal government to act,'' they write. ''Even if voters elect a pro-environment president in November, there is still a long battle ahead in Congress.''

But if Maryland ''joins other states -- California, New Jersey and Hawaii -- that have adopted legislation to fight global warming,'' they point out, ''it can only hasten Congress, and the White House, to approve a national policy.''

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pennsylvainia: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blocks plan to dam Susquehanna

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday that it is denying a permit for an inflatable dam to be built across the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre. The Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority had proposed building a structure that would have reached 9 1/2 feet high and impounded 4 1/2 miles of the free flowing river. The corps said in a statement that the dam was not the least environmentally damaging way to control floods in the area.

Full Story

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce calls for government probe into EPA

Saginaw News Headlines Saturday Feb 2, 2007 Chamber calls for probe.
Members upset over the Environmental Protection Agency's " accidental" release of a confidential memo regarding dioxin talks

While there are many issues of more significance than the Chambers latest salvo at a regulatory agency or its defense of Dow's chronic bad behavior, statements cannot go unchallenged. Terry Miller, Lone Tree Council Chair, did a great job responding in a My View column in the Saginaw News. There is however no Saginaw News Internet link to Terry's response.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is asking the Inspector General to investigate how Lone Tree Council obtained an EPA memo; a memo which details Dow Chemical’s ongoing bad behavior, i.e., shoddy work plans, failure to follow regulatory guidelines, studies designed to create year long delays, maneuvering to go behind closed door, political strong arming… just to name a few. Go to left column, click on FOIA documents and go to Dow CA 0807 to view the document that has jacked the Chamber so out of a shape. The Chamber did not deny the veracity of the document, I think they were just upset the public found out about Dow’s bad behavior.

Snips from the news story are pasted below and followed by my comments and my different viewpoint in bold print.

1. Snip: Veronica Horn, chamber executive vice president, said the group backs transparency but that Dow and the EPA had agreed to confidential talks. The Chamber is wrong and their statement a deliberate attempt to mislead. The EPA memo is dated August 2007. Dow did not go into confidential negotiations until October 18 and were not ordered to go into those negotiations until October 11. At the time of this memo was written, EPA had not even ordered Dow to negotiate. The memo if anything was written in anticipation of EPA taking legal action against Dow under CERCLA for failing to act in accordance with their corrective action responsibilities under RCRA. See EPA press release for October 2007 announcing negotiations. In all the years and the many times Dow has forced this cleanup behind closed doors, even with the illegal consent order in 2002, which was made public, I've never seen the Chamber demand transparency or public accountability from Dow Chemical.

2. Snip: Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Robert VanDeventer and former Chairman Brian D. Eggers signed the letter. This would be the letter to the Inspector General asking for an investigation into how Lone Tree obtained the memo. It's interesting that Mr. Eggers, President of ATK Peerless failed full disclosure and did not divulge the significant income garnered by his company as a contract employee for Dow Chemical doing work on priority one and two properties along the river contaminated with dioxin.

3.Snip The Chamber letter also claims many memo comments "seem to be taken directly from the Lone Tree Council's Web Site." Never mind that none were identified or used as an example. Lone Tree Council's web site due to our lack of time has not had any information added to it in over a year. There are no documents on the LTC web-site from the EPA or anyone else. Visit our website:

4. Snip Mrs. Horn goes on to State : "Perhaps Lone Tree doesn't know what honoring a commitment means, but the business community certainly does." Would Dow Chemical be included in the " business community" that knows how to honor a commitment? Perhaps Mrs. Horn would then ask Dow Chemical to honor their commitment to the people of this watershed by honoring the RCRA corrective action license signed by Ms. Sue Carrington on Dow’s behalf in June of 2003. By doing so Dow clearly acknowledged its responsibility, its legal commitments to the residents of this watershed and state. Dow clearly agreed by signing this commitment to abide by the law and produce as part of the contract with the people of this watershed: 1. Scopes of Work 2. Interim Response Activities 3. Remediation 4.Open public process. This is a legal binding document which Dow has fought tooth and nail after signing. A contract which at the end of the day would address the cleanup of this watershed and demonstrate Dow Chemical comprehends what it means to honor a commitment. Or does Dow with the Chambers blessing get to walk away from that contract? Where's the honor in that?

5.Snip More from Ms. Horn : "Our position is this: We are very upset that this kind of activity has happened on more than one occasion," Horn said. "This is not helpful to either side, to the EPA or to Dow. Our concern is with the community and the perception of the community. It's not a perception it's a reality; this is a highly contaminated watershed and it is time the Chamber insist their premier member expedite cleanup instead of being an apologist/lobbyist for the company. While we must acknowledge that Dow is not the only contributor the Saginaw River contamination--- the company is responsible for the dioxin black eye that drew national attention to our community. There are more than two sides! It's not just the regulatory agencies and Dow involved-- Hello Chamber of Commerce-- there is the public! As for the Chamber being upset, let me submit the Chamber is more upset because the memo, like many others, reveals Dow Chemical to be very uncooperative, manipulative, political and unwilling to comply with the law. Please go to and click on FOIA documents to read other documents detailing the company’s failings.

6 Snip.Ms. Horn: "It's an attitude we feel that the EPA is taking against a company. We want a healthy Great Lakes and river system, but we also want a healthy economy." Attitude? It's called enforcing the law. Unlike the Chamber of Commerce, EPA and DEQ do not see a healthy eco-system and a healthy economy as being mutually exclusive. In progressive communities with progressive thinkers that archaic thinking is no longer acceptable. Many communities are seeing the economic benefit, job creation and long-term sustainability in cleaning up their contaminated waterways. And the healthy Great Lakes and river system are about public health and quality of life—more and more research is demonstrating the long-term impact of persistent organic pollutants on children. Quality of life matters! And it is defined by more than profit and money...........

7. Snip The chamber letter also raised concerns about other "accidental" releases of "confidential, internal documents to this environmental group. Each time this has happened it has resulted in sensational, negative headlines that in our opinion serve only to hinder negotiations between The Dow Chemical Company and either the (state Department of Environmental Quality) or, in this case, the EPA," it said. Like we control the headlines. The headlines and subsequent stories are not about the "release" of information but the content in the release. It’s what is revealed in these documents that so unnerves the Chamber of Commerce because it exposes the shenanigans of Dow Chemical. To suggest the public's access to information hinders negotiations one can only conclude the Chamber thinks the negotiations should be out of the public arena. We strongly disagree. Dow polluted this environment they don't own it. The most valuable stakeholder in this process is the people. We own the resource. The people and the process should be afforded the deference given Dow for the past 30 years. There is nothing about this cleanup that should be kept from the public, the property owners or the citizens who use these resources for recreation, food or their livelihood.

Lone Tree Council will continue to do what it always has....... Seek out public information and make it public when it comes to the resources and public health matters of our Saginaw Bay Watershed. Our resources, people and water are important as is the business of the people..... Everyone of us has an obligation to ensure a public and transparent process. It's how our democracy works best and it is what the taxpayers pay for from their elected officials and public agencies.

Best Regards,
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council

Georgia: Lawmakers in Georgia are looking to loosen water restrictions for swimming pools

Lawmakers in Georgia are looking to loosen water restrictions, enabling people to fill their swimming pools and water their plants despite a statewide drought.

Perdue wants to relax water rules
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb 06, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ohio: Clean Water Fund

Governor Strickland’s State of the State address called of $400 million for the Clean Ohio Fund.

$400 million for the Clean Ohio Fund, to advance efforts to reclaim brownfields
and other damaged lands and preserve farm land and open spaces.