gravel mining | Michigan Radio
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gravel mining

gravel mining
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The Michigan Senate has overwhelmingly approved bills to strip local governments of authority to issue gravel mine permits.

The bills would give permitting authority to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.  In the vast majority of cases, EGLE would be required to issue the permits even if local governments and residents oppose new mines.

gravel mining
Adobe Stock

Supporters and opponents of bills to remove local control over gravel mines testified at a hearing in the state Senate Thursday.

The bills would have the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy approve or deny permits, instead of villages, townships and cities.  

The sponsor of the bills, Democratic Senator Jim Ananich, admitted there were no gravel mines in his district. He also said he had not met with township officials while the bill was being drafted. 

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Update:  The State Senate Transportation Committee voted Tuesday to approve SB 431, a bill that would require townships to approve nearly all gravel mining permits, even if the mining operation would cause serious environmental consequences.

Republicans Tom Barrett, Kimberly LaSata, Roger Victory, Rick Outman  and Dan Lauwers voted yes;  Democratic sponsor Adam Hollier also voted yes.

Democrat Erika Geiss was the lone no vote.

Democrat Marshall Bullock and Republican Ed McBroom chose to pass on the vote.

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The state Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee heard more testimony on a controversial gravel mining bill on Wednesday. Committee chair Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) said he expects the committee will take action on the bill "in the not too distant future."

The bill would exempt gravel companies from township ordinances and regulations. 

Opponents fear the committee plans to vote to approve the bill while there is restricted access to committee hearings because of the pandemic.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Tom and Michelle Joliat's lovely home in Metamora, Michigan is situated high on a hill with a stunning view of the woods below.  

Normally, it's peaceful and idyllic here. Metamora Township is a rural area about 25 miles southeast of Flint.  

But in the distance, you can sometimes hear the faint drone of the U.S. EPA drilling yet another monitoring well. The wells are monitoring the movement of a plume of groundwater contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and other toxic chemicals.