Environment Picture

Bell ringers! Environmental successes won in recent weeks

Breathing easier
Shocking, unexpected news from the legislature isn’t always bad! So proved the Michigan State Senate when it abruptly resurrected a bill to provide smoke-free workplaces in bars, restaurants and casinos in May, passing the long-suffering legislation by a 25-12 vote. At press time, it still needed to clear the House, but prospects looked good. MEC assisted groups who spent years lobbying for the ban. Studies showing no negative economic impact on the affected establishments helped turned the tide. “I used to be on the wrong side of this issue,” said Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton. “Now I’m on the right side.” Glad to have you, Senator!

Pesticide sanity
Restrictions on the use of the pesticide lindane for treatment of lice and scabies passed the State House of Representatives May 15 despite no-holds-barred lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry. Lindane, which is no longer used on livestock, is still legal to apply to children’s scalps in Michigan. The chemical is a neurotoxin that needlessly puts children at risk. The legislation would require it to be used only under a doctor’s supervision. MEC joined with many partners in the public health and environmental communities to earn the passage on a bipartisan 72-35 vote. Senate action comes next (see related story, page 13).

Clean and green
Clean, affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency got a boost in April when the State House of Representatives passed a package setting the state’s first renewable energy standard and reviving energy efficiency programming. The package is a good first step, and part of exhaustive efforts by a coalition of groups, including MEC, which has pressed long and hard for such reforms. The battle moves to the Senate.

Bell cracker: Politics above science, again
EPA Region V chief Mary Gade told Dow Chemical Company to get moving and clean up its longstanding dioxin contamination downstream from its Midland headquarters. Then she was sacked by the Bush Administration (related editorial, page 15). It’s the most recent version of an infuriating old story from a presidential administration that consistently puts politics above science and public health. Time for a new president.
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