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Funding Cuts Threaten Michigan’s Water Supply

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMichigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is running out of money to clean-up underground industrial pollution sites that threaten the state’s drinking water. The Detroit News reports that the DEQ Part 201 program funds have dwindled to $11 million, down from the former $1.3 billion. The Great Lakes State currently has about 6,000 sites requiring cleanup, and it is doubtful that any more than a handful of them will be contained, let alone remediated.

Many of these sources of pollution originate from so-called “orphan” sites — the industries responsible for the leaking toxins are long gone, frequently out of business for decades. The materials were either not properly contained in the first place, or the containment has degraded or failed allowing plumes of pollution to migrate through ground water.

The EPA lists 58 sites in Michigan it is monitoring that are of grave concern, and the state has yet to realize the impact of the sequester on federal funding. Don’t expect help there.

All this, while the DEQ scrambles to inspect and assess the environmental threat of mountains of petroelum coke (pet coke) which suddenly appeared along the banks of the Detroit River next to the Ambassador Bridge. Pet coke is a coal-like by-product of refining tar sands oil. Marathon Petroleum generated the pet coke, but the mountains are currently owned by Detroit Bulk Storage. Residents and officials are concerned that rain could leach the toxin into the river, and that wind could pick up the dust and contaminate the surrounding area. The owner of the pet coke insists that as soon as the river thaws, they will relocate the product.

What if the worst does occur in Detroit?

Getting corporations to step-up and take responsibility for assessment and remediation is like pulling teeth. Earlier this month, Enbridge, Inc., the Canadian company responsible for the 2010 oil spill that released 800,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River, refused to help pay for two assessment studies, claiming that enough studying had already been done.

It’s not just about money — it’s attitude. Myopic corporations, who rarely see past the next quarter and have demonstratively failed at long-term planning, would naturally not understand the need to engage in a longitudinal assessment. However, not all corporations dodge clean-up and mitigation responsibilities. Dow Chemical leaked dioxin, a poisonous chlorine by-product, into the Tittabawassee River from 1890 to 1970. Dow continues to work on the long process of cleaning the river, segment by segment, reassessing and monitoring as they go.

But, with Michigan’s corporate friendly congress continuing to legislate-away environmental protections and oversight, while these polluters contribute heavily to lawmakers’ campaign funds, things are destined to get much worse in the Great Lakes State before they get any better.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

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Canadian Environmentalists Plan Mass Mobilization Against Tar Sands Pipeline

The Koch Brothers are pulling every string to get approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline in the U.S.  Pollutants aside, it would turn a big profit for Koch Industries.  If you remember, in last year’s negotiations about keeping the middle class tax cuts, it was the last thing that ALEC Alum John Boehner held out for.

The pipeline will be going to Corpus Christi because from there it can be loaded onto ships and exported.  If it were for domestic consumption it could readily be processed at refineries much closer to Canada.

So, the argument is that if we don’t allow the pipeline to be completed then the Canadians will just export it themselves.  Well, it turns out that they don’t want this polluting crapola traversing their country either.

Enbridge Inc. is proposing the pipeline to run from the oil sands to Kitimat, B.C. (CBC)Environmental activists in Canada have announced plans for a mass sit in at the British Columbia legislature to protest the proposed tar sands pipeline. Greenpeace Canada has claimed that the organizers’ goal is to create the “biggest act of civil disobedience” on the tar sands issue in Canada to date.

The action is backed by over 80 community, union, business and First Nation leaders, including Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki, Maude Barlow, Naomi Klein, Tom Goldtooth, David Coles, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, John O’Connor, and Tony Clarke. You can view the full list at defendourcoast.ca.

The action, organized under the title Defend Our Coast, seeks to highlight the B.C. and Federal government’s compliance with the oil industry, which is gutting environmental protection laws and has canceled more than 3,000 safety assessments of industrial projects such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

I hope that you will click here to read the entire article.