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News Hits is so proud of the John Engler administration, which has finally agreed to comply with federal law and issue pollution protection permits to factory farms. To ensure manure is stored and disposed of properly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires states to issue permits to farms with more than 1,000 cows, 2,500 pigs or 100,000 chickens. Farms not in compliance can be fined thousands of dollars. Because Engler and company refused to issue permits, said critics, regulation was lax, factory farms flocked to the state and water pollution increased.

As a result, several environmental groups, including the Michigan Sierra Club, asked the EPA to revoke the state’s permitting authority more than a year ago. The EPA reviewed the situation and gave Michigan until Jan. 15, 2002, to come into compliance. Otherwise the EPA would have taken over Michigan’s entire permit program, which includes chemical factories and other industries that discharge waste in public waters.

“This is a huge advance,” says Michigan Sierra Club President Anne Woiwode. But, she cautions, there’s more work to do. “We will monitor the permit process closely and make sure there is adequate funding and enforcement.” So, there’s your news flash: The Engler administration acts to protect Michigan waters and the public’s health. And it only took constant pressure from green groups and a possible takeover of its entire water permit program.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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