Law Will Kill Biodiversity in Michigan

Nearly two years ago, Sen. Tom Casperson introduced a bill intended to revise the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act of 1994 —  Senate Bill 78 lurked quietly in committee for the duration, until it reared its ugly head last week and passed in the lame duck session. Under the shadow of the road funding question, little attention was paid to the legislation.

images[8]The law will amend NERPA to prohibit the state from engaging in activities that preserve biodiversity, and will instead require the Department of Natural Resources to focus on economic growth in its environmental management practices. They will not be allowed to fund or participate in activities that promote restoration or identify unique habitats. The law actually revises the definition of “conservation” to exclude the promotion of native species and habitats. As if that’s not enough, the law deletes language that attributes loss of biodiversity to human activity — meaning, they could not even converse in the language of the science behind biodiversity.

This law will additionally prevent the DNR from continuing their efforts to stem the spread of invasive species, unless it is determined to be in the best interest of the state’s economic growth.

The DNR has been researching and developing programs since 2006, chief among them is their Living Legacies Initiative. This program identifies unique species and habitats and offers support through specific Biodiversity Stewardship Areas.

“Living Legacies is built on sound scientific principles, while respecting the diverse ecological, social and economic values and perspectives that are important to Michigan citizens. Through Living Legacies, Michigan will write another chapter in its long history of thoughtful, forward-thinking stewardship of our state’s natural resources.”

James Cleft, Policy Director of the Michigan Environmental Council, explained in an email to Great Lakes Information Network-Enviro-Mich why SB 78 is bad public policy:

“Biological diversity is a fundamental part of a mission that lies at the foundation of Michigan’s long tradition of strong and responsible public land management. Managing lands for biodiversity and ecosystem health and genetic resilience ensures that our forests can survive new invasive species, such as emerald ash borer, and our fisheries can withstand diseases…Biodiversity, as a management tool for enhancing and restoring Michigan’s native natural ecosystems, is entirely in keeping with the idea of the Michigan’s agencies are stewards of the public trust, and the caretakers of Michigan’s abundant natural beauty and healthy ecosystems.”

Speaking of legacies, Senator Casperson has a checkered environmental history as a lawmaker, earning a flunking grade of just 33 percent from the non-partisan Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

The House Fiscal Agency reports that the following organizations are in support of the law:

The following indicated support for the bill on 12-9-14:
Michigan Assoc. of Timbermen (12-9-14)
Great Lakes Timber Professionals (12-9-14)
Great Lakes Lumber Assoc. (12-9-14)
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (12-9-14)

Casperson’s campaign finance report predictably reflects his voting record with thousands in contributions from logging, mining, petroleum and energy interests — too numerous to list. Here, it seems the lawmaker enjoys a little diversity.

Lisa Wozniak of MLCV explained to ramifications to Michigan Radio:

“This plan puts at risk the very things that make Michigan’s outdoors very special and that support our diverse tourism, and fishing, and agricultural industries. And it’s bad business for Michigan. It’s very short-sighted. The governor should say no to this.”

If Governor Snyder signs SB 78 into law we can say goodbye to piping plovers, brook trout, river otters and thousands of other species that will become taxidermy material for Michigan’s history museums.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

Updated 12-22-2014 11:00 am

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15 Responses to Law Will Kill Biodiversity in Michigan

  1. Michael L. Taylor says:

    Hoping SR 78 does not pass, I voted for Gov. Snyder but do not support this Bill.

    • Kathleen Gutierrez says:

      If you voted for Gov. Snyder than you should have been aware of his policy of making sure the focus of our government is all about making the wealthy even wealthier. He has done it in the past and will now do it for another 4 years. He got his cousin contracts, increased the pay of his buddies he hired while advocating for cuts in programs for the working poor (Earned Income Tax Credit). Maybe you voted not knowing who you were voting for.

  2. Scott says:

    Protect Michigan’s wildlife

  3. paula says:

    gov. snider is not concerned about preserving our beautiful state and our super important great lakes. it made me sad that he won. it makes me sad that my fellow citizens don’t seem to care (enough) about environmental impact of industries like cement plants, water extraction, pipe line leaks, mining practices. our future depends on our citizens caring more about stewardship and less about $$$

  4. Christie says:

    It is vitally important to protect Michigan’s biodiversity, as it is key to the tourism that brings so much economic benefit and growth to our state. Please consider the environment before signing this bill into Michigan law.

  5. Brian Yoder says:

    You can’t continue to strangle business for the sake of every little plant and animal and not impoverish a lot of people. Stop trying to socialize the costs of your personal environmentalist pieties. Pay for them yourselves. If you want poverty in return for biodiversity then take it on yourselves, don’t force it on your neighbors.

    Bravo to the legislature for putting human beings first.

    • Matthew Igleski says:

      This is not a bill that incorporates a logical balance between biodiversity and economic opportunities, this bill is trying to eliminate any consideration of biodiversity for the sake of managing Michigan’s environment. That is not really putting all human beings first, it’s putting a few human beings first that want to exploit particular areas of the state and can’t handle being told no.

      There is a ton of economic benefit for maintaining biodiversity: hunting, fishing, tourism, etc. Those uses are much more sustainable economically than destroying unique habitats and extirpating species without the ability to bring them back.

    • williamhuard says:

      Gee whizz Brian Yoder-
      Why do conservatives always pass legislation when no one is paying attention?
      Why the contempt for analysis and democracy? That’s easy- if you are a shill for big business like Tom Casperson you don’t want transparency. You don’t want democracy. This is what happens when people vote against their own best interest- or, if they only vote in presidential elections- you get anti- wildlife laws and backward social policies. Modern Conservatism. People who cheat and lie to get their way- like Casperson

    • John Idema says:

      Can you eat $ Brian?

    • Gregory Roll says:

      Brian Yoder is proof that if you hand a village idiot a pitchfork and continuously tell him it is all about jobs , he’ll do the dirty work and shovel dung at others for the wealthy.

    • Christine Barry says:

      Brian, the data indicates that this bill will actually be harmful to the overall economy, and only beneficial for logging. So really we’re just subsidizing logging at the expense of everyone else.

    • Debra Crawford says:

      Seems we have a sizable number of poor in the state right now. Plants and animals work together to keep the planet flourishing. Sadly the same can not be said of business and people. Seems to me people will not be around for long if business is allowed to pollute the air, water and soil in the name of profit. You can survive a lot longer without oil, than you can without water.

  6. Paul Hauk says:

    Biodiversity? A term I am not familiar with unless we are referring to God’s great handy work. Is it akin to “Transparency” in government activity(WTF is that? Government is massively present and oft times oppressive & tyrannical. Does anyone recall George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and how verbiage was redefined over and over? Extinctions do occur, but if we do not do what we meagerly can do then our dominion over everything that creep and crawls will be reduced( do you recall where that comes from?). I feel the PC term should be BIO-PRESERVATION. As long as our leaders are creating/redefining and coming up with new and befuddling concepts to keep the led dazed and confused, I propose that we, the people, rename the Governor of the Great State of Michigan to dictator(or is the correct spelling inclusive of “dick”?) of a piss ant colony! Is he still trying to force feed a new bridge that the people rejected? Richard Snyder? Is not “Dick” a common nickname for one thusly named? The only thing missing is coupling it with “head”!!!

  7. Environmentalist says:

    While this bill was introduced by Casperson, we cannot forget that two House Democrats Dianda & Olumba also voted for it & Three Republicans voted against it (Walsh, VerHeulen, Howrylak). It is unfortunate that we have so many uneducated voters in this state – people who vote against their own self-interest.

  8. Jeff says:

    Gov. Snyder vetoed this today.

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