Michigan already legally emits air pollution that exceeds (in a bad way) the known limits for public health due to clever legislation written by industry years (decades?) ago according to Vinson Hellwig (DEQ’s air quality chief) at the 2011 EPA Detroit EJ conference.
There’s a push underway to make it even easier to release unidentified chemicals, and no public hearing in Southeast Michigan even though organizations offered to help the office do so–especially knowing Detroit would be impacted most by this initiative.
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of Environmental Justice: Denying the people whose lives will be affected by a statewide policy shift from the decision making process is a clear example of environmental [in]justice.
It also stifles freedom of speech for those who are unable to travel beyond Southeast Michigan.
As some of you may recall, Detroit’s youth suffer from asthma at 30% above the national average (Detroit Asthma Coalition statistic), and Southwest Detroit/Southeast Dearborn residents have the highest cancer rates in the state attributable to highways and heavy industry’s proximity to their neighborhoods.
*What you can do about it:
1) Several organizations will likely mobilize to speak out on the policy itself and–to me, most important since it’s likely this kind of problem will happen again & easiest for the public to forget–about the unfair procedure.
If you know of any or want to collaborate or join in advocating, let me know, we’ll look into cohering efforts. I’m notifying the US Green Building Council’s MI chapters as they’re well suited to educate about schools & indoor air quality.
IF YOU WORK FOR A COMPANY/INDUSTRY that has an interest in deregulation–and are or know someone willing to speak honestly about their organization’s concerns & interests in the issue, let me know. I want to understand and speak with people who aren’t up in arms but willing to hear other perspectives to find common ground.
2) Does anyone know where to find the actual MDEQ proposal & schedule for public hearings? Let me know what you find and attend or send in your comments.
3) If you believe the issue merits escalating to a federal agency, let them know too.
They’re legally bound to respond to your message (maybe not act on it, but at least give a prompt reply). I personally get the sense that this is something that requires accountability from an external entity.