Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Sierra Club Files Lawsuit Against Michigan For Granting Permit to State's ‘Worst Polluter'

Already known as one of Michigan's worst air polluters, you could could argue that Severstal Inc. is the last company that needs a permit to emit more toxins.

But Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) did just that in May, which prompted the Sierra Club and three other petitioners to file a lawsuit Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court. The groups want the court to strike down the Dearborn steel company's permit, citing federal Clean Air Act provisions and actions allowing a state business-promoting agency to intervene with environmental regulators involved in a permit decision.

The permit allows Severstal to release more than 725 times more lead into the air from one portion of the company’s plant, compared to the original permit from 2006, the Detroit Free Press reported prior to the approval. The new permit lets the company pollute at levels already cited more than 30 times in clean air enforcement actions by the DEQ, according to the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club and three other groups filed suit against the State of Michigan for letting this plant in Dearborn emit even more pollution into the air. Photo credit: Michiganradio.org

“The decision to grant this permit to pollute violates the Clean Air Act and means families living in Dearborn and Detroit will be breathing more toxic air for years to come,” Rhonda Anderson, the Sierra Club’s senior Detroit organizer, said in a statement.

The South Dearborn Environmental Improvement Association, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and the Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit also field the suit. Coincidentally, the groups filed the suit the same day that West Chester, OH-based AK Steel bought Severstal for $700 million. That didn't take any eyes off the permit, though.

“It’s outrageous and just wrong to put a corporate polluter's interest ahead of public health,” Tyrone Carter, president of the Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit, said. “There are kids growing up and going to school within sight of this plant who deserve and have a right to be protected from harmful pollution by a company that makes millions of dollars in profits but won’t be required to comply with clean air laws.”

A 90-day review of emissions from a Severstal smokestack two years ago revealed 1,660 violations of state and federal regulations for smoke opacity, which is a measure of particle levels in the smoke. Still, the company received the permit shortly after a visit from Gov. Rick Snyder, in which some alleged the governor received a Russian vase and a $1,000 contribution from Severstal’s top North American official. The chair of the state's Democratic party deemed the permit "backdoor politics at its worst," while Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club said it was "an embarrassment" for the state.

“We are doing this for our kids and our grandkids,” said South Dearborn Environmental Improvement Association board member Abdo Bapacker. “Many families in the South End are sick from breathing polluted air.”

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Trump introduces EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during an event to announce changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Jan. 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. The changes would make it easier for federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects without considering climate change. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, voiced support for safe reopening measures. www.vperemen.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA

By Kristen Fischer

It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.

Read More Show Less
Critics charge the legislation induces poor communities to sell off their water rights. Pexels

By Eoin Higgins

Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.

Read More Show Less
People enjoy outdoor dining along Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach, California on July 8, 2020. Keith Birmingham / MediaNews Group / Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

California is reversing its reopening plans amidst a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Read More Show Less
A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less