Lawmakers sign pledge to protect Great
By Amy F. Bailey
The Associated Press
Published July 12th, 2004
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State House and Senate Democrats
on Monday presented Gov. Jennifer Granholm with a pledge
signed by several dozen lawmakers to support legislation
that would regulate large-scale water diversions from
the Great Lakes.
The presentation at the state Capitol was part of a continuing
effort to encourage Republicans who control both chambers
of the Legislature to take up a two-bill package to require
companies and farms that withdraw water to get permits.
The legislation would require permits to withdraw more
than 2 million gallons of water a day or more than 100
million gallons a year. More than 1,000 existing Michigan
operations fall into that category, including large farms,
utilities, golf courses and factories.
The bills were introduced in March, but House and Senate
Republicans have not yet scheduled a hearing on either
Jeff Irwin, executive director of the Michigan League
of Conservation Voters, said each of the Senate's 16 Democrats
signed the organization's pledge to "protect Michigan's
lakes, streams and freshwater acquifers by supporting
legislation that will strictly regulate large-water withdrawals."
Forty-five of the House's 46 Democrats also signed the
pledge, spokesman Dan Farough said. Rep. Alma Stallworth
of Detroit was the only Democrat who hadn't signed it
by Monday afternoon, Farough said.
Reps. Dan Acciavatti of Chesterfield, John Stewart of
Northville, Tom Meyer of Bad Axe and Jack Brandenburg
of Macomb County's Harrison Township were the only Republican
lawmakers to sign the pledge, Irwin said.
Republican legislative leaders have said they don't want
to take up the legislation until they see the results
of a law passed last year that requires an inventory of
groundwater supplies, which could take about two years.
"Once we know all the facts, we can begin working
with interest groups such as yours to draft meaningful
regulations," according to a letter sent to the Michigan
League of Conservation Voters by the Senate's 22 Republicans.
Granholm, a Democrat, criticized the Republican position.
The governor and other Democrats at the news conference
said it's important to get the regulation in place before
states in the Southwest or other regions push to divert
"I signed the mapping bill and I think it needs
to happen, but it's not a sequential issue," Granholm
said at the news conference. "Why are we waiting
for a doomsday scenario to happen? We need to move now."
Granholm pointed out that Michigan is the only state
in the region that hasn't enacted laws to regulate large
withdrawals although it was among the states that signed
the Great Lakes Charter in 1985.
House Great Lakes and Tourism Committee Chairman David
Palsrok said Monday he hasn't been approached by House
Democrats or the Granholm administration about taking
up the proposed Water Legacy Act.
"I have heard no request other than through the
media," the Manistee Republican said. "I'm certainly
interested in working with anyone who shares my concerns
about the basin. It has been a little frustrating with
all the demagoguery going on. It's too important an issue."
(The water withdrawal bills are Senate Bill 1087 and
House Bill 5634.)