Earth to Harding

No doubt those soil-loving environmentalists made Mother Nature proud last week when they celebrated Earth Day — with attitude. About 200 eco-activists from around the state gathered in Lansing to stick it to the Department of Environmental Quality and its business-friendly director Russell Harding for allowing polluting companies to wreak havoc on our land, lakes, air and health.

Folks from Romulus to Cadillac gathered to tell how the DEQ has failed to protect their communities, says Dan Farough, political director for the Mackinac chapter of the Sierra Club, which helped organize the event.

Romulus residents complained about the DEQ decision to allow a private company to build a 4,000-foot waste-injection well in their city, despite public opposition, says Farough. The Cadillac community criticized the DEQ for failing to regulate large factory farms which sometimes contaminate ground water with animal feces, he says.

Donele Wilkins, executive director for Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, says Detroit residents complained of the incinerator planned for the city’s southwest side.

“Detroit can’t stand for another incinerator,” says Wilkins.

Some Democratic gubernatorial candidates also showed for the event, including U.S. Rep. David Bonior, D-Mount Clemens, state Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and state Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Salem Township. Each blasted Gov. John Engler for his deplorable environmental record.

But Michigananders are not the only ones fed up with Engler, Harding and the DEQ. The Windsor-based group Citizens Environmental Alliance nominated Harding — along with 11 other eco-sinners — for its Weenie of the Year award. We’ll reveal the Weenie winner next week.

In other green news, Detroiters for Environmental Justice is scheduled to host the National Black Environmental and Economic Justice Coordinating Council meeting in Detroit May 5-6. For more information call 313-821-1064.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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