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More environmental education needed

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Letter to the Editor
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More environmental education needed

I’m very much against the proposed cutbacks in the environmental education program that has been in place here in Ann Arbor for some 40 years.

As people become more isolated from the natural environment, the less they appreciate it and the less they feel the need to understand it. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s our general ignorance about our relationship with our natural world that allows environmental disasters to accumulate. With ignorance comes an arrogance that we are above the natural order of things - that we don’t have to be concerned. This attitude will only hasten the advent of future problems, diminish our long-term quality of life, and raise the societal costs of living in a poor environment.

Take water quality. If the state changed the speed limit outside a school from 25 mph to 625 mph overnight, would you be outraged? Of course you would. But that is equivalent to what our governor and our legislature did in 1995 to the our decades-old water quality standards. They cut off debate and rushed through legislation to allow 25 times more cancer risks ostensibly to make it less expensive to clean up abandoned polluted sites. The standards for 1,4-dioxane went from 3 ppb to 77 ppb then later to the current 85 ppb.

We have a 1,4-dioxane, water contamination problem right here in the Scio Township/City of Ann Arbor area.

Just two weeks ago a city water supply well was shut down because it had 2 ppb of 1,4-dioxane, the same level at which private wells were shut down prior to 1995 in the Dexter Road area. Now the state is telling us that we should be willing to drink water with up to 85 ppb of 1,4-dioxane.

These environmental cutbacks are affecting our quality of life and will affect our long-term health.

We as individuals and local communities have to become more educated and watch out for ourselves because the state and federal governments right now are not watching out for us.

An informed electorate is the key to an effective democracy.

There should be more environmental education, not less - especially in these times of governmental cutbacks on environmental protections.

I know that the Proposition A property tax changes in the mid-1990s are creating serious school funding problems now, but we can’t just keep lopping off effective and important programs such as the fine environmental education program currently targeted for cuts. Other alternatives must be found.

Roger Rayle

Ann Arbor