GOP Focuses On Environment

February 10, 2003
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LANSING — Republicans in the Michigan Senate have made protecting Michigan's natural resources and addressing important environmental issues key parts of their legislative agenda.

Led by Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, the GOP senators say they are serious about the environment.

"Environmental stewardship is not a partisan issue; it's something all of us have an obligation to work for," Sikkema said. "Michigan is a treasure trove of resplendent natural resources every bit deserving of our attention and protection."

Sikkema said the first step in that process is the recent announcement by himself, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and House Speaker Rick Johnson, R-LeRoy, of the appointment of a bipartisan council to study land use and development issues in Michigan.

Sikkema said he realized the importance of creating such a council last year when the Great Lakes Conservation Task Force, of which he was chairman, found that the quality of the Great Lakes was greatly affected by activities that occur on land.

"If we are to be good stewards of our Great Lakes, we need to be good stewards of our land," he said. "A modest 5 percent increase in Michigan's population will result in a 20 percent increase in land use. That means added pressure on the environment from runoff, urban sprawl, increased solid waste production and the need for more sewer capacity."

Other environmental issues that will get legislative attention this year include investigation and possible modification of Michigan's 26-year-old bottle deposit law, protection of freshwater aquifers from overuse and depletion and financing for local communities to improve and rebuild antiquated sewer systems.

"I don't think there's any question that environmental issues take a high priority in the Senate Republican Caucus," Sikkema said.           

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