Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Did you know...

...there's a blog on MLive called Saginaw Bay Watershed Watch? I didn't either until recently but now I get their Newsletter. Today was an interesting post by Jeff Kart titled 'Another committee won't help clean up the Saginaw Bay, Bay area citizens say.'

Golly, ya think?

Monday, March 17, 2008

...But the Environutz are More Interested in 'Get Dow!!' than they are in Clean Water!!!

Sunday's Bay City Times contains an editorial about cleaning up our watershed. It's from somebody who cares about the environment!

An FYI to the local environutz who are out to create even less jobs in the tri-city area and kick chemical industry butt, I have cared about the Great Lakes and especially the Saginaw Bay when many of you were still wearing diapers! My family have been boaters since the 1960s. Industry began creating non-phosphate cleaners way back then. We always made sure our cleaning products, dish soaps, etc. for use when we were boating contained no phosphates!!!

NOW... just want to share a 2004 photo album I created showing the Bay City State Park in mid-summer. All the other State Parks were already buzzing with activity. Here's the album: Beach

Here is the editorial for anybody who might not have read it:

Make 2008 the year we saved Saginaw Bay
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saginaw Bay is sick.

Rotting muck has ruined sandy beaches.

Human fecal matter - yes, that! - and animal waste are in that mess.

Invasive phragmites are taking over our shorelines.

Accidentally imported animals are remaking our native waters into ecosystems we don't recognize.

Yet the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality didn't even list Saginaw Bay in the first draft of its ''impaired waters'' report this year.
The bay needs action, now.

It demands a comprehensive plan.

Yet, we see no outrage.

Where, for example, are the environmentalists?

Lately, they seem more attuned to chemicals in the bay than they are to what rots and stinks up the place.

Refocus, you guys and gals: We need your dedication and experience.
The few steps taken to turn the bay around are commendable. The Bay County Board of Commissioners has enacted a ban on phosphates in lawn fertilizers to stop the growth of algae that dies to become muck. The bay needs more help than that.

In the past year alone, municipal wastewater treatment plants in Saginaw, Saginaw Township, Bay City and Essexville dumped 388 million gallons of only partially treated sewage into the Saginaw River. That's enough to fill 456 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Shrugs all around. What can we do?

Stop it, that's what.

Build more retention basins used to hold combined sanitary sewage and storm runoff. Or separate sanitary sewage from storm water.
Yes, it will cost millions of dollars, even billions. The work will take years.

So we better start now.

Nobody knows how many rural homes and cabins send their raw sewage downstream through failed septic systems.

Nobody has looked in any comprehensive way.

Find them and fix them. Take the Bay County ban on phosphates in fertilizer to all 22 counties in our watershed. Ban phosphates in
dishwashing detergents.

When people became enraged about industrial pollutants, laws were written and the offenders were found and fined. That pollution stopped.
The same outcry and the same, strong government response is needed to stop the biological poisoning of Saginaw Bay.

The work won't end once we get a grip on wastewater and runoff.

What do we do about zebra mussels?

Nobody knows, because little is known about the tiny bivalves that took over the bay more than 18 years ago.

Even less is known about the other invaders.

Study continues at the pace of a snail.

Ramp it up, and find solutions.

Get angry, get involved and get that bay of ours clean.

We will not be ignored if we stand as a region.

Determined that, together, we will cure our sick Saginaw Bay.

Starting this year.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Couldn't have said it better myself!!!

YES!!! The environutz are causing reason for concern increasingly by more and more people in our area.

Here is the latest letter to Saginaw News Editor on the subject... well said, sir!

Dow Chemical doing all it can
Monday, March 10, 2008
Editor, The News:
I have followed the dioxin case like most in the area for a couple of years now. An expert I am not, but one thing strikes me as being wrong and unfair about this whole episode.

It's the attacks some of the most extreme environmental activists make upon Dow Chemical Co. Have you ever heard one positive word about Dow from these people? Do they ever give Dow any credit for trying to find a solution to this problem that all can live with that won't bankrupt the company? Many big corporations would never go as far as Dow has trying to satisfy all the parties involved in this complex case.

I have a question for them: Is your goal really to find a solution that all can live with, or do you really want to hurt Dow financially and cost them as much money as possible? Costing Dow as much money as possible not only hurts the company, it hurts its employees, stockholders, suppliers, the community at large and possibly even its retirees.

Dow has done more for the surrounding communities than most corporations would ever think of doing. Drive around and look at the various community bettering things Dow has played a part in or been a supporter of. Dow Gardens, Midland Center for the Arts, Northwood University, TheDow Event Center, Bay City Y, MBS International Airport and Delta College are a few. There would not be a Dow Diamond and minor league team in our area without the support of Dow Chemical.

We should appreciate the investment Dow has made in our community, and the investments they are involved in at Hemlock Semiconductor, Dow Medical in Hemlock, Dow Corning and the new buildings scheduled for the Dow Midland plant. These all equal more jobs for our area.

Dow isn't perfect, but it is a far better corporate citizen than some give it credit for. We should be working with Dow instead of against it.
Rob Hirschman
Saginaw Township

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saginaw News Editorial... March 4

Here's the editorial I told you about...

C'mon, just clean it up
Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Any of you out there trying to keep up with the Dow Chemical Co. dioxin cleanup have permission to roll your eyes from here to Love Canal.
Dow, the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have hammered away at each other so hard and for so long they finally have succeeded in making it anyone's guess as to just what's going on.

In the latest episode, last week Dow decided to take the DEQ to court, saying the government agency ''out of thin air'' and without any warning or discussions, significantly increased the scope of the company's dioxin testing plan to include part of Lake Huron. The DEQ says no way. The plan includes some of Saginaw Bay, but not the lake.
Dow wants the court to quash the DEQ-modified plan and start over from scratch.

The relationship between Dow and the DEQ and its overseer, the EPA, has disintegrated into combativeness at the very least, with disagreement at every turn.

Dow says a Wickes Park dioxin discovery last year posed no immediate health risk and cited a University of Michigan study as proof. The EPA called the site the most contaminated ever recorded and the DEQ said the danger was ''beyond the realm of debate.''

Last June, the EPA took center stage, muscling the DEQ out of its way and telling Dow and the DEQ to get a move on with the cleanup of three Tittabawassee River dioxin hot spots. Six months later it quit talks with Dow. No one knows why because both Dow and the EPA agreed not to tell anyone.

Hang in there, folks. There's more.
Last month, Dow decided it wouldn't co-host with the DEQ a regular community dioxin meeting because there was nothing new to add since the last session. The EPA said it would co-host, but a snowstorm kept representatives in Chicago. The DEQ carried on alone.
And now the court action. Dow said it contacted the DEQ to try and settle differences before resorting to litigation. The DEQ said yes, Dow called, but only to say it was filing the lawsuit.

Dow must clean up this 100-year-old mess to the extent science and the risk of making things worse by stirring it up allow.
The environmental agencies must allow sensible conditions that make it possible for the chemical company's executives to put this disruptive and divisive impediment to progress behind us and still protect the health of our people.

Dow's image and its ability to harvest the fruits of its investment in the Tri-Counties region are at stake.

So too are the reputations of the EPA and DEQ.
Sometime, somewhere, somehow this trio has to make peace.
Why not now?


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Saginaw News Editorial Headline...

...C'mon, just clean it up... appeared in March 4 paper! It's a good piece. Too bad I couldn't find it in the online version. No time now but will scan it & share with you later.

In a nutshell, the editor... no byline but presume maybe the Editorial Page Editor, Robert H. Handeyside..... sums up the ongoing saga with a few simple words. He sees what we're all seeing - that state and national bureaucrats appear to be changing the rules over and over again. Well duh!!!

You know what I think? Nobody wants to make any big decisions until they know which way the political machine will blow next year!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Another Hero... Ken Horn.....

...was guest columnist in The Saginaw News yesterday.

Clearing river will take combined efforts
Friday, February 29, 2008

If we learned nothing else in 2007, it's that we should work side by side in a nonpolitical way to get things done for our community. However, in recent weeks I've repeatedly been bemused by frequent letters to the editor from defenders of the Environmental Protection Agency sit-down strike, most recently on Feb. 15.

Letters of the defense speak of this federal agency quitting discussions after an ''unacceptable offer'' by a local company. It is remarkable that EPA supporters are so intimate with the confidential dioxin negotiations. The offer, whatever it was, remains unknown to all residents of Michigan with the obvious exception, of course, of these select few champions of the EPA's environmental monarchy.

For the record, and to the chagrin of some extremists, readers should recall that my office did not have the Department of Environmental Quality removed from the river project. The EPA muscled in after years of DEQ involvement and unilaterally chose to yank our state agency out of the loop. An uninformed EPA then leaked information about the case and is currently under investigation by the U.S. inspector general. Rather coincidentally, and nearly the same day, the EPA walked away from the clean-up talks and halted its vaunted river projects. If you are not aware of this yet, at a recent gathering the EPA demonstrated satisfaction in a couple of clean-ups along our river. Here's what they accomplished at just one site: More than 300 majestic 100-year-old oak trees were ripped from the ground, root and limb, and hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of our riverbanks were carted away and replaced with sterile soil, likely to be washed away as silt next spring.

I toured the site and could not believe the government sanctioned the destruction I witnessed. The EPA insipidly referred to this thoughtless obliteration simply as the ''removal of vegetation.''

Guess what they found? With this show of unbridled brute force, the EPA recovered less than a thimbleful of non-toxic furans. Doubt it? The EPA cannot tell the difference between the furans and dioxins in the river -- it said so. Worst of all, it scorns both the world-renowned University of Michigan and Michigan State University studies on the effects of human and wildlife eco-systems in our region.

I remember when several trees wrongly were chopped down by the Road Commission in Saginaw Township not too long ago. The neighbors were so outraged over the destruction of their trees that their voices quivered in anger. We should be equally incensed over the EPA's hard-handed tactics because if you live on the river, prepare yourself, your trees are next on the EPA chopping block. It's their bold plan. It's what they call ''progress.''
That is why I'm fighting the EPA and the DEQ.

I strongly support the health and safety of our residents. Without a moment of hesitation, I encourage honest efforts to clean up our rivers. In light of all that we know through the U-M and MSU studies, I support doing this in a way that does the least damage to our extraordinary surroundings.

There should be a reasonable plan that includes green spaces, new plantings, some river digging and lots of rip-rap to keep banks from eroding. The DEQ and the EPA need to work candidly with the community to develop a vision and share it with the public. Government needs to get back to the table and then work toward that vision. It seems only reasonable, if they're the experts.

So, while we wait on their expertise, please check out this quote:
"What happens next is anyone's guess. Hopefully EPA and DEQ will continue to work together to resolve this long-standing issue. It is imperative for the agencies to now come forward with a collective and coherent strategy and engage the public. What are your next steps Director Chester and Administrator Gade? Please do not assume we know." The Dioxin Update, Lone Tree Council.

Apparently, I am not the only one disappointed in the bureaucracy of this project. As a legislator, a big part of my job is to watch over departmental operations. This problem needs to come to some resolution. I consider myself a conservationist and will join with ecologists to solve this logjam. My only caveat is that we will not destroy this river valley environment in the name of saving it. The cure should not be worse than the illness.

I'd like to thank the advocates of the EPA for writing their letters to the editor, though you should know that your neighbors likely are disappointed in the condescending tone. It shouldn't be that only those ''in the pocket'' of the EPA are allowed to pursue accountability and transparency in government.

Just as we need to work in a bipartisan manner in Lansing, we need to work together locally. I will continue to represent the people of the 94th District and will stand up for our precious river forest. And I will fight against out-of-control, politically motivated bureaucracies that are funded by tax dollars, paid for by you and me.

As always, you are welcome to write me directly at kennethhorn@house.mi.gov or call me at (866) horn-094 (1-866-467-6094). I'd be glad to chat with you about these issues.
Kenneth B. Horn represents Michigan's 94th state House district. He lives in Frankenmuth.