The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337

Former Governor Milliken Speaks Up To Save Wetlands Program

Iconic Republican Says Repeal of Wetlands Law "Not in the Interests of Michigan"


The governor who signed Michigan's model wetlands
protection legislation into law 30 years ago believes it is vital to keep that
commitment even in tough economic times, according to a statement by former
Gov. William G. Milliken posted today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). Former Gov. Milliken's statement comes just days
before the Legislature decides whether to follow current Gov. Jennifer Granholm
in her call for abolishing the state wetland program in order to save approximately
$2 million in state funds.

A towering figure in state politics, Milliken is Michigan's longest
serving governor (1969-83) who retired after being elected to three terms.
His tenure was marked by many enduring environmental achievements, including
passage of a bottle deposit law, the Michigan Environmental Protection Act
and the Natural Resource Trust Fund. Besides wetlands protection, Gov. Milliken
has been a consistent advocate for improving water quality as a key to protecting
both the natural as well as the economic health of the state.

In a March 13, 2009 statement, the former Governor, a lifelong Republican -

  • Calls repeal of the wetlands law "a huge setback to this and
    future generations";
  • Says "Federal agencies simply do not have the authority nor the
    funding to administer adequately the protection of Michigan wetlands";
  • Argues that the state law "has protected large amounts of valuable
    wetland resources from alteration and destruction" and "remains
    a national model".

Reversing years of support for wetlands protection and key tenets in a state
plan for Great Lakes restoration issued only this January, Gov. Granholm called
for the repeal of the wetlands law in her February 3rd State of the State speech.
Just days later, President Obama unveiled a half billion dollar Great Lakes
partnership that relies on the very program that Gov. Granholm would axe.

"Governor Milliken speaks with the wisdom of what he calls 'the
long view of what is best for the state and its natural resources'," stated
PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that experts estimate that the state
will lose much more money from higher flood damages due to wetlands losses
than it will save from repealing the program. "Michigan's recovery
depends upon clean waters that spring from safeguarding the state's base
of wetlands."

Legislative hearings on the wetlands program begin tomorrow.


Read the full statement by former Governor Milliken

See the environmental consequences of losing the Michigan wetlands program

Look at some of the economic consequences

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.