Coalition: Anti-DEQ Bills Undermine Governor’s Environmental Justice Commitment
On the heels of Environmental Justice Task Force report release, coalition calls on Gov. Snyder to oppose bills that hand over public health decisions to polluters
DETROIT, MI — Members of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition (MEJC) today called on Governor Rick Snyder to oppose Senate Bills 652-654, a set of bills under consideration in the Michigan House of Representatives that would give industries oversight and decision-making authority over the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Members expressed opposition to the legislation because it would threaten the health of people living in low-income communities and areas with high levels of pollution. The new calls for of opposition come after the Governor’s Environmental Justice Workgroup released a report today providing recommendations to improve environmental conditions in low-income communities.
We expect the MDEQ to be the main line of defense between the community and corporations seeking permits to increase dangerous pollution that threatens the health of communities living in industrial areas with high pollution,” said Michelle Martinez, statewide coordinator at MEJC. “Giving industries ultimate authority over environmental health decisions undermines public health and erodes the democratic process, much like we saw with emergency management in Detroit in which decision-making power was stripped from the people.”
I’ve participated in numerous DEQ permit hearings in my district, and I have been proud to see residents of Southwest Detroit and Downriver stand up, time and time again, to advocate for clean air and water ,” said State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “The Flint water crisis and ongoing air pollution issues in my district serve as a reminder that Michiganders need the exact opposite of industry-stacked panels. We should reinstate the citizen oversight commissions that were abolished in the 1990s and give citizens a seat at the table in making decisions that impact the quality of their air and the safety of their water.”
The DEQ is already approving industry permits at record rates. If companies like AK Steel gain total control over the rulemaking process as they have done in the past, there will be more dangerous pollution in our air, and the residents of South Dearborn and Detroit will see increased rates of asthma and other adverse health problems that cost the state nearly $7 billion a year,” said Karima Alwishah, public health student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. “These corporations are accountable to their shareholders, not the people of Michigan. We need a stronger, more robust DEQ — not one led by the very polluters it was designed to oversee.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 2, 2018