Newspaper Report Suggests Cozy Relationship Between Polluter, Economic Development Agency

Emails obtained by the Detroit Free Press suggest the MEDC intervened to get the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to go along with relaxed emission standards at one of the state's most notorious polluters.

The Severstal Dearborn steel plant, which has been cited dozens of times by the U.S. Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, has asked the DEQ to allow higher emissions. (Patch file photo)
The Severstal Dearborn steel plant, which has been cited dozens of times by the U.S. Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, has asked the DEQ to allow higher emissions. (Patch file photo)

One of the state’s most notorious polluters, the Severstal Dearborn steel plant has asked the Michigan’s Department of Enviornmental Quality to allow to to emit harmful pollutants to levels 725 times higher than currently allowed on its permit

The state agency, which as recently as two years ago said the plant was an “egregious” polluter, which had a “total disregard … for the air quality requirements,”  now appears poised to approve the change,  a Detroit Free Press investigation shows.

Severstal Dearborn said the proposal before the DEQ is a “correction” that will align the permit to the amount of pollutants currently being released, and it apparently has the blessing and support of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.,

After filing a Freedom of Information Act request, the newspaper obtained MEDC emails to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality lobbying for the change, which would base the permit revision on 2006 environmental regulations to avoid current state and federal laws setting a higher threshold for emissions. Adhering to the higher standards would cost Severstal Dearborn millions of dollars, the newspaper said.

The plant has been cited more than two dozen times by the DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The emails showed MEDC began lobbying for the change after Severstal CEO Sergei Kuznetsov told officials, including Gov. Rick Snyder and MDEC president and CEO Michael Finney, that the higher environmental standards would be problematic for the steel plant.

But MEDC business ombudsman Amy Banninga said the agency was merely doing its job to help the company navigate state regulations.

However, the Free Press said the emails seemed to suggest the MEDC  was doing more than serving as a “conduit of communication,” as Banninga explained, but was leading the process and advocating for Severstal.

A spokeswoman for Snyder’s office said the governor tries to strike a balance between protecting the environment and creating jobs and fostering economic growth.

Environmentalists and neighbors in the area where the steel mill operates, near the 48217 ZIP code that where the air has an EPA toxicity score that’s 45 times the state average, have questioned the process.

“I see a steel company and another arm of the State of Michigan seeming to stop at nothing to bend the rules and carve out exemptions — at the last neighborhood in the state and the last facility you should be bending rules for or giving exemptions to,” said environmental attorney Chris Bzdok, who represents a group of neighbors from Dearborn’s South End neighborhood near Severstal that have challenged the revised permit.

Read the full report from the Detroit Free Press here.
Provoking Thoughts and Numbers May 06, 2014 at 01:32 PM
joe smoe May 06, 2014 at 02:51 PM
Anyone notice the cozy relationship between the liar, obama, and the late Venezuelian dictator CHugo Chavez, Rev. Jeramiah Wright, ( total racist and socialist mentor to obama), Planned Parenthood, ( multi-million dollar late term, partial abortion provider. google either if you have the guts. and stomach), amd the liberal left......? The list goes on. Notice the cozy relationship between liar obama and his policy to treat us Americans as if we are so dumb and naive as to think he is GOOD for America and our Democracy? obama: " America has has it's day it the sun. lt is time for other countries to enjoy it as well", and for America to become less prosperous and secure at it's borders as well as abroad. obama sucks HUGELY.
Joseph Borrajo May 06, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Racist rant is the underpinning of someone cannot live comfortably within their own skin.
Joseph Borrajo May 06, 2014 at 03:07 PM
Ralph Nader on the business channel today, talking about an alliance of left and right to take on the corporate state that controls Congress and the state government in Michigan. P3
Pete Rogan May 06, 2014 at 09:22 PM
What? Allow more corruption and pollution for a RUSSIAN company? Why on Earth should we permit this?


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