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Dow’s defenders

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News Hits has been keeping an eye on the dioxin situation up Midland way ever since Metro Times wrote about the issue (“Shadow of Dow,” March 27, 2002). You know Midland, home to Dow Chemical, one of the state’s leading employers. And you should know dioxin, one of the most toxic substances known. Certainly the people of Midland know it. So do folks along the Tittabawassee River downstream from Midland, where some sites have dioxin contamination 80 times the state limit.

The chemical is linked to a wide range of health problems, from cancer and birth defects to diabetes and learning disabilities.

Last week, the Michigan House Appropriations Committee approved a budget that whacked the Department of Environmental Quality, reducing its general fund budget by 15 percent and eliminating the hazardous waste management division completely.

Among those leading the assault is State Rep. John Moolenaar, a Midland Republican who makes no secret that he feels poor Dow is being picked on. Enviros see the legislation as an attempt to punish the DEQ for simply doing its job.

“There is widespread concern that the DEQ is out of control,” Moolenaar told the Associated Press.

In the view of environmentalists, it’s Dow lackeys like Moolenaar who are out of control.

“Efforts to curtail cleanup efforts are placing the public health of Michigan residents at risk,” says environmentalist Michelle Hurd.

At the same time the DEQ is under attack, the GOP is hard at work trying to increase allowable levels of dioxin — by a factor of 10. Environmentalists have written Gov. Jennifer Granholm pleading with her to hold her ground.

“There is a lot of information being forwarded on behalf of Dow Chemical, so the company can escape their legal duty to clean up the contamination they have caused,” a group of 10 Midland-area environmentalists wrote to Granholm on Monday.

It could be worse. That letter could have been addressed to John Engler.

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com

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