IV. CMI Policy Principles

Each of the nine components of the Clean Michigan Initiative reflects specific policy objectives.

Judging by funding allocations, however, the primary goal of the initiative is to curb suburban growth by redirecting investment to Michigan's largest cities. This goal assumes that urban areas fail to attract redevelopment because property is unavailable, and that suburban growth threatens Michigan's environment. Thus, the initiative essentially constitutes yet another attempt at urban renewal.

More than half of all CMI funds - $385 million - are dedicated to decontaminating abandoned industrial sites ("brownfields") and municipal landfills, as well as improving recreational and waterfront amenities. Another $90 million will also go to water quality programs, but priority clearly has been given to redevelopment of industrial areas and infrastructure repairs in older cities.

DEQ Director Russell Harding described the "cornerstone" of CMI as "redevelopment of abandoned, contaminated industrial properties [that are] millstones around the necks of communities, stifling growth and festering into breeding grounds for social ills." [14]

Similarly, the media campaign promoting Proposal C debuted with a 60-second radio spot featuring then-Detroit City Council President Gil Hill and then-state Rep. Kwame Kilpatrick touting CMI's benefits to the city, including job creation, business investment, and improved parks and recreation. [15]

This coupling of environmental and urban agendas is now a fundamental tenet of the environmental establishment. Conventional wisdom holds that development of farmland and open space ("greenfields") is environmentally perilous: too much concrete, too many commuters and too few cornstalks. Urban revitalization has thus become the latest central organizing principle of environmental activists since tailpipe emissions have been cut 95 percent and scrubbers are filtering the nation's smokestacks.

The CMI is an attempt to stem suburban greenfield development by increasing the availability of unsoiled and unencumbered urban properties. The hope of state planners is that once investment is thus redirected, cities will be revitalized, bringing a halt to further exploitation of farmland and forestlands.

The strategy was summarized by Dan Gilmartin, director of state and federal affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, who said: "By renewing our downtowns, our parks and our waterfronts, we can help keep Michigan families and businesses in their hometown communities." [16]