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MEDC lobbies DEQ to cut horrible people some slack in poisoning the air

by: Eric B.

Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:39:40 AM EDT


It starts with a question in the form of a headine...

Did Michigan agency lobby to bend rules on pollutants at Dearborn steel mill?

and, it advances to the answer...

The Michigan Economic Development Corp., Gov. Rick Snyder’s business-promoting agency, worked for months behind the scenes with one of the state’s most flagrantly polluting businesses as the company lobbied the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for permission to release even higher levels of pollutants and avoid current air quality regulations, DEQ e-mails obtained by the Free Press show.

So, yes. This isn't just some factory in some sparsely populated part of the state. That would be bad enough. This, this is a factory that has regularly violated state and federal clean air rules over the years and is situated in ... oh, let the story explain.

Severstal’s location adds scrutiny to its proposed pollution permit grandfathering. The factory is near the notorious 48217 ZIP code, where residents surrounded by factories and refineries breathe air given a toxicity score by the EPA that’s 45 times the statewide average.

Dearborn’s South End neighborhood is largely made up of Arab immigrants who live next to Severstal, other industrial plants and the Marathon petroleum refinery.

“This is like Ellis Island; many immigrants come here as a first stop. So they aren’t very vocal,” said Eman Ali, a neighborhood resident.

Anyone see a familiar pattern here? The governor goes out and tells anyone with a working set of ears that talent is the cornerstone of the modern economy right before signing legislation prohibiting public sector employers from extending same sex domestic partner benefits in a way that is not only in conflict with the trend in the private sector but that offends the very talent he'd just said we need to attract and retain. Now, he's been telling everyone with a working set of ears that immingrants have a welcome place in Michigan ... it's just that one of the places they move to just happens to have poisonous air, a problem Snyder's own MEDC is trying to make worse by getting a major polluter exempt from standards it is already violating.

What you might see as an outrage, I see as purely 20th century thinking, however. I also see an investment opportunity in ... air. Pure, clean air captured in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula, canned and sent south. Every asthmatic child will be lining up around the corner to get theres, and at the end of the day, the Russian steel mill can belch pollutants and the kiddos can have their pine tree fresh air to breath. It's what the suits call a win-win.

Update! ... Here is how you, dear reader, are handed a bill to underwrite this factory's pollution.

The rate of asthma hospitalization in Detroit was 49 residents per 10,000 people in 2010 — more than three times the state’s rate of 15 asthma hospitalizations per 10,000 residents during the same time. Between 2008 and 2010, the 48213, 48214 and 48215 ZIP codes on the city’s east side had some of the highest hospitalization rates in Detroit, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

This is a consequence of the air being made less healthy to breath. A polluter pollutes, the kids and young people get sick and have to seek medical attention, private insurance or Medicaid foots the bill. If it's Medicaid, you pay this directly through tax dollars. If it's private insurance, the insurance company has to find profit somewhere, which means raising rates to treat the sick. The polluter, the party responsible for this? Pays nothing. There's both Healthy Michigan and your Party of Personal Responsibility at work, fellas.

Eric B. :: MEDC lobbies DEQ to cut horrible people some slack in poisoning the air
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Pay to Pollute Politics (4.00 / 1)
From a Michigan Democratic Party press release today:  "Saikat Dey, CEO of Severstal International, gave $1,000 to Rick Snyder for Michigan on 11/26/13 - either right before, or during, MDEQ consideration of allowing Severstal to dramatically increase toxic emissions from its Dearborn plant. This is the only state campaign contribution listed on the Michigan Secretary of State website for Saikat Dey."

From Clean Water Action and Progress Michigan in March:

...this permit reeks of more than just the pollutants spews from the steel plant. The company's Chief Executive Officer of North America, Saikat Dey, made a large campaign contribution to Gov. Snyder's reelection campaign leaving the impression that Severstal could be buying influence from the governor. On November 26, 2013, Dey made a $1,000 contribution to the governor's campaign. "What's troubling about this permit - apart from the pollution being poured into communities - is the pay-to-pollute politics that appears to be going on," said Sam Inglot, project director of SnyderFails. "Governor Snyder needs to address the appearance of nepotism that's plaguing this process. Once again, it appears that Snyder is valuing his corporate donors over the well-being of Southeast Michigan families."
http://www.snyderfails.org/201...


Severstal (4.00 / 1)
The Detroit Free Press actually did a rather detailed story of this back in March.  It's good, to see them following up on this, and good to see the Michigan Democratic Party connecting the dots.  It's rare, these days, you see a paper follow up a story like this.


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