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Derelicts in charge


The Michigan Environmental Council has issued a report that fillets Gov. John Engler and his chief environmental henchman, Department of Environmental Quality Director Russ Harding.

Titled "Dereliction of Duty," the 35-page report documents the repeated ways in which the Engler administration is turning back the clock on environmental protections.

"Governor Engler and DEQ Director Harding would like Michigan citizens to believe that Michigan’s environment is getting cleaner," notes the report. "In fact, in several of his most recent State of the State messages, Governor Engler has claimed, 'Michigan's air and water are cleaner than at any times since monitoring began.' While this claim is demonstrably false — the pollution picture is, at best, mixed — Engler's words are part of a successful campaign to doctor statistics to put the situation in the best possible light. The Michigan news media has failed to probe into Engler's claim and to explain to the public the true condition of the state's environment."

The report appears to be having an impact.

"The good news is we're getting lot of calls from small papers across the state," says MEC policy directory James Clift. "I think we hit a nerve with a lot of citizens across the state. The bottom line is we are going to keep talking about the issue."

And pushing for reforms. Clift reminded News Hits that Engler eliminated 28 different citizens' commissions when he split apart the Department of Natural Resources to create the DEQ.

With that oversight eliminated, says Clift, we're left with an administration "that's willing to side with corporate interests every single time."

To counteract this pattern, the MEC — a coalition of more than 50 environmental, public health and faith-based organizations with more than 170,000 individual members — is calling for several reforms, including a citizen watchdog board over DEQ with policy making and permitting authority.

To view the report online, visit the MEC Web site at Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or

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