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
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." 
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. 
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
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."