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State Net Environmental Law News: Michigan Governor Snyder Rolls Out Expanded Recycling Plan

SNYDER ROLLS OUT EXPANDED RECYCLING PLAN: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) released a proposal last week that would double the amount of residential waste that Wolverine State residents recycle.

"Michigan has a strong tradition of protecting and enhancing its environment," Snyder said in a statement. "But when it comes to recycling, we must do better. Michigan trails other Great Lakes states and much of the nation in residential recycling. It's a complex challenge but one that we can address. This plan puts us on the right path."

Michigan residents currently recycle only about 15 percent of their household waste. Snyder's wants to grow that figure to at least 30 percent within two years. In doing so, he says, the state would recoup a big chunk of the $435 million in reusable materials Michiganders toss out each year.

Snyder's 15-point plan has four key components: outreach and education; improving consumer recycling access; creating a demand for recycled goods through the use of tax-exempt, private activity bonds to build recycling centers and create directory of potential customers for those recycled materials; and developing a data collection and analysis system to track the program's progress. State officials believe that building a market for the state's recyclables could eventually create up to 13,000 new jobs.

The plan is not without challenges. Among the biggest is improving recycling access for consumers. Fifty eight of the state's 83 counties - including its five largest, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent and Genesee — currently lack easy access to recycling.

Snyder has committed $1.5 million to the project: $1 million in his FY 2015 budget and another $500,000 in state grants available to local communities that implement the plan. (DETROIT NEWS, WASHINGTON POST, MICHIGAN GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, RIPON ADVANCE)

ENVIRONMENT: The HAWAII Senate approves SB 2175, legislation that would allow the University of Hawaii to conduct a two-year study on the potential use of hemp as a biofuel feedstock and in phytoremediation, the use of plants to remove contaminants from soil. It moves to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) for review (BIGISLANDNOW.COM [HONOLULU]). • The VERMONT Senate approves HB 112, a bill that would require foods containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such before they could be sold in Green Mountain State stores. It returns to the House (BURLINGTON FREE PRESS, STATE NET). • WISCONSIN Gov. Scott Walker (R) signs a bill that limits civil liability for agricultural tourism providers. The measure would grant immunity if a tourist dies as a result of a risk inherent in the activity and the provider posts a sign giving notice about the potential risk (INSURANCE JOURNAL, WISCONSIN GOVERNOR'S OFFICE).

— Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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