Green legislation to revitalize underground storage tank cleanup

LANSING—Legislation to revitalize Michigan’s leaking underground storage tank clean-up fund and program was approved by the Michigan Senate on Wednesday, said bill sponsor state Sen. Mike Green.

“Commercial properties are often abandoned or stand idle because of contamination caused by leaking underground storage tanks,” said Green, R-Mayville. “For years, the Legislature has raided funds intended to clean these sites up and spent the money on other unrelated purposes.

“This legislation will put an end to that practice and restore a program that cleans up contaminated sites and puts them back into economic action. It is a win-win scenario that is good for the environment and job creation.”

For years, tank owner and operators have paid a fee that went to the Michigan Underground Storage Tank Financial Assurance (MUSTFA) fund to support clean-up operations of existing leaking tanks and preventive measures designed to avoid future leaks. Despite industry support for the program and fee, the funds have not been used for their intended purpose for some time.

Senate Bill 791 revitalizes and modernizes the program, strengthens the requirement that the funds be used for clean-up purposes, and creates a reimbursement program that will result in current contaminated sites being cleaned up and redeveloped for economic development purposes.

“That means a cleaner environment, reduced threats to public health and more jobs,” Green added.

In an alliance that is often rare in Lansing, the legislation is supported by business, industry and environmental groups. SB 791 passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support and will now advance to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration.

Green legislation removes employment barriers for veterans

LANSING—State Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, joined Gov. Rick Snyder for a ceremonial signing of legislation he sponsored to waive initial state occupational license fees for honorably-discharged veterans.

“The legislative package signed by the governor today honors the sacrifice of the men and women who have served in our armed forces and helps them transition into careers as civilian employees and business owners,” said Green, R-Mayville. “Not only is this the right thing to do, it benefits Michigan and our economy by encouraging veterans to put their world class skills and training to work in the Great Lakes State.”

Sponsored by Sen. John Moolenaar and Green respectively, Senate Bills 671 and 672 are now public acts that waive license fees for veterans seeking to become private security professionals, accountants, builders, barbers, engineers, surveyors, real estate agents and many other occupations.

 

Green, Pavlov and Thumb-area lawmakers call for halt to proposed Canadian nuclear waste facility

PORT SANILAC—State Sen. Mike Green, state Sen. Phil Pavlov and other Thumb-area lawmakers announced measures Monday to stop the construction of a Canadian nuclear waste dump and strengthen the state’s protection of natural resources against radioactive waste.

The legislation, to be introduced in Lansing on Tuesday, would ban the importation of radioactive waste into Michigan and call on President Obama and Congress to weigh in on the development of a nuclear waste disposal facility in Kincardine, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Huron.

Pavlov also announced the creation of an online petition, www.ProtectLakeHuron.com, and encouraged residents throughout the Thumb and the state of Michigan to sign the petition and add their voices to the call for presidential action.

“This proposed facility would pose a critical threat to the health of the Great Lakes and other natural resources throughout Michigan,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “I take very seriously my duty as a legislator to protect our natural resources and public health. That is why I will continue to fight the development of this site and ask my fellow residents to join in this effort.”

Concurrent Senate and House resolutions call on the president, the secretary of state and Congress to take the appropriate procedural steps to submit a letter of reference or request a binding decision from the International Joint Commission (IJC), the official organization appointed to prevent and resolve disputes over the use of the Great Lakes. A second concurrent resolution would urge the Great Lakes Commission to study the impacts of the facility and take a formal position on it.

In addition to banning the importation of all radioactive waste, a bill in the package would extend Michigan’s current ban on nuclear waste disposal to include Class C radioactive waste—the most dangerous form of low-level nuclear waste. The bill also would create the Great Lakes Protection Radioactive Waste Advisory Board to assess a broad range of public health, natural resource, cultural, archaeological and historical consequences of the proposed Ontario facility.

“I will ask the board to set an aggressive timetable and conduct public hearings on the matter to determine a wide range of potential impacts,” Pavlov said. “This information-gathering effort and the conclusions from the panel can help bring to light key potential risks from the proposed facility and hopefully help to attract additional national and international attention to calling the facility to a halt.”

Green, R-Mayville, added, “The Great Lakes are Michigan’s most valuable natural resource, not only for our ecosystem but for our economy as well. Michigan has a long history of protecting this resource and that’s what we are joining together to do today.”

Their co-sponsors in the state House joined Pavlov and Green in unveiling this plan.

“These measures put the debate into a scientific forum, which allows for public comment,” said state Rep. Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City. “The process should make it clear to everyone that the development of this nuclear waste disposal facility is unacceptable, and I hope it puts significant pressure on the Canadian government to stop their approval of the site.”

State Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township, added, “Building a nuclear waste dump less than a mile from one of the largest freshwater sources in the world is a reckless act that should be universally opposed. We all need to work together—local, state, U.S. congressional and Midwest leaders—to try to convince Canadian officials to do the right thing and stop the plan.”

Tens of millions of United States and Canadian citizens depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, fisheries, tourism, recreation and other industrial and economic uses. Placing a permanent nuclear waste burial facility in Kincardine, Ontario could lead to a leak or breach of radioactivity from the facility or to a similar pollution incident, which could severely harm the ecology of the Great Lakes, perhaps permanently.

“Michigan’s Great Lakes are one of our most prized resources, and we have a responsibility to protect them,” said state Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus. “This legislation does just that. It prioritizes the conservation of our beautiful water and everything that comes with it. With great things comes great responsibility, so let’s step up to the plate and care for the Great Lakes to the best of our ability.”

Under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty, the IJC, made up of individuals appointed from the U.S. and Canada, is authorized to address international matters relative to the U.S. and Canadian interests in protecting the Great Lakes. An important part of the treaty enables either nation to submit a letter of reference to the IJC for their debate, research and investigation regarding issues having the potential to impact the health of the lakes.

The concurrent resolutions pertaining to the IJC urge the legislatures and governors in the seven other Great Lakes states to submit the same request for the U.S. to invoke IJC provisions.

Pavlov said he will request that the IJC hold hearings in key locations that will be adversely affected by the facility proposed by the Canadian company Ontario Power Generation.

The measures have already gained national attention and praise from key conservation groups.

“Burying nuclear waste a quarter-mile from the Great Lakes is a shockingly bad idea—it poses a serious threat to people, fish, wildlife and the lakes themselves,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “We support this legislative package that asks Canada to reconsider its plan to store large amounts of radioactive waste on the shores of Lake Huron. It’s time to go back to the drawing board to find a solution that doesn’t put our Great Lakes, environment, communities and economy at risk.”

James Clift, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council, added, “The unique elements of the project, such as its nearly unprecedented reliance on limestone to contain emissions from nuclear waste and, most notably, the site’s proximity to Lake Huron, demand that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) take seriously its obligation to consider alternative sites. Unfortunately, the process employed and supporting information provided by OPG to this point do not reflect sufficiently careful analysis of alternative sites.”

“As we all get ready to take our families boating, swimming and fishing in the Great Lakes this summer, the implications of this proposed project are really brought home,” said Erin McDonough, executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “We appreciate the leadership Senator Pavlov and his legislative partners are showing in proactively addressing the serious issue of burying nuclear waste along Lake Huron’s shoreline.”

The legislation will be introduced in Lansing on Tuesday and throughout this week.

Thumb-area lawmakers to unveil plan to protect Lake Huron from Canadian nuclear waste dump

PORT HURON—Sen. Mike Green, Sen. Phil Pavlov and Rep. Paul Muxlow on Monday will unveil a plan to protect Lake Huron and to stop a dangerous proposal by Canadian officials to bury 7 million cubic feet of nuclear waste less than a quarter-mile from the shore of Lake Huron, directly across the lake from the residents of St. Clair, Sanilac and Huron counties.

According to reports, Ontario plans to bury 53,000 containers of nuclear waste in a dig site that is expected to consume 70 acres of land.

Who:
Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville;
Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township; and
Rep. Paul Muxlow; R-Brown City.

What:
Lawmakers will unveil a plan to protect Lake Huron and stop a dangerous Canadian proposal to bury nuclear waste on the lake’s shore.

When:
Monday, May 19
2 p.m.

Where:
URI’s Landing
7375 Cedar St.
Port Sanilac, MI 48469

For more information, contact Green’s office at 1-517-373-1777.

Green legislation will help veterans re-enter the workforce

LANSING— Legislation that would waive initial state occupational license fees for honorably discharged veterans has been approved by the Legislature and is ready to be signed by the governor, said state Sen. Mike Green.

“It would be impossible to repay our veterans for their service to our country. They are American heroes and should be treated as such” said Green, R-Mayville. “Only those who served understand how hard it is to transfer back into civilian life and we should do as much as we can to help them.”

The measure is part of a two-bill package sponsored by Green and state Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

If the bills are signed into law, initial occupational license fees would be waived for veterans seeking to become private security professionals, accountants, builders, barbers, engineers, surveyors, real estate agents and many other occupations.

“Our veterans have some of the best occupational and leadership training in the nation,” Green said. “By allowing them to bypass the initial licensing fee, we are encouraging well-trained, highly skilled veterans to live and work right here in Michigan. This is good for veterans and it’s good for Michigan’s economy.”

Senate Bills 671 and 672 are awaiting Gov. Snyder’s signature.