The Latest: Holding Illegal Polluters Accountable
It is particularly galling when state legislators sponsor and promote bills like House Bills 5557 and 5558.
These two bills, which were passed out of committee in May, would reward AK Steel’s Dearborn Works facility with tens of millions of dollars in corporate tax credits even though this facility has been illegally polluting Michigan’s air.
Families living nearby and downwind from this facility and others nearby have been profoundly impacted by having to breathe toxins pumped into the air by AK Steel. But still House Bills 5557 and 5558 do nothing to hold the company accountable for coming into compliance with state and federal air quality standards (which it was caught violating as recently as last November).
Perhaps even more alarming is that this legislation would set a dangerous precedent for other Michigan businesses—demonstrating that our state government does not expect industrial facilities to follow the law and will not act to hold them accountable for breaking it.
Being able to have air that you and your children can breathe safely is a pretty basic expectation.
Unfortunately, it is one that often fails to be met for thousands of families across Michigan.
How does AK Steel’s illegal pollution affect nearby families?
- The area was given a toxicity score by the EPA that was 45 times the state average and the Dearborn Steel plant is one of the area’s worst polluters.
- In 2006, the plant violated its air quality permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and released pollutants up to 725 times higher than the permit’s allowable air pollution limits.
- Despite new ownership, AK Steel’s Dearborn site has been chronically noncompliant with air quality standards and has received a violation notice as recently as November of 2015. Since July 2010, there have been 117 citizen’s complaints centered on harmful air pollution releases and more than 20 violation notices sent to AK Steel.
- The site is located in an area where Michigan is non-attainment under the Clean Air Act for unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide.
- The EPA has linked the effects of short term exposure to sulfur dioxide to: increased hospitalization and infant mortality rates as well as persistent asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchoconstriction, emphysema, various forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease and premature death.
How does Air pollution affect families throughout Michigan?
- Michigan’s asthma rates are significantly higher than national averages with 11.5 percent of adults and 9.2 percent of children in Michigan living with asthma. That rate is 24.4 percent and 16.9 percent higher, respectively, than the national average.
- Additionally, as a state Michigan has the 6th highest percentage of residents living with cardiovascular disease and the 10th highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the nation.
- Michigan is 17th in the country for incidences of lung cancer.