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Congressman John Conyers

Representing the 13th District of Michigan

Conyers Cautions MDEQ on Possible Raising of Sulfur Dioxide Levels in Detroit Area

January 6, 2016
Press Release

DETROIT – Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement in response the Michigan Department of Environment Quality’s (MDEQ) consideration of a proposal from Marathon Petroleum refinery to allow them to expand facility operations in Southwest Detroit:

“I am alarmed to hear that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) may raise the ceiling on Sulfur Dioxide pollution in the Detroit area.  Given the serious health consequences of Sulfur Dioxide pollution, such a measure should receive the highest-level of consideration and discussion.

“Unfortunately, the MDEQ’s recent record demonstrates they are not fully weighing the consequences of their lax approach to regulation.  The recent reports out of Flint, that tens of thousands of citizens were exposed to toxic lead levels while MDEQ ignored the threat, should give anyone in public office pause before trusting the word of MDEQ.  Their rush to approve the haphazard storage of Petroleum Coke along the Detroit River in 2013 tells us this is a problem that goes back some time. 

“It seems that whenever an urban or low-income community’s air or water quality is in question, risks and costs are almost always deemed acceptable.  For those of us who live in those communities, it hardly needs to be said that MDEQ’s assurances are not as assuring as they once were.

“As public officials, we are entrusted to provide for the health and welfare of our community, which means overseeing those employed by the state to protect us.  As Detroiters and Michiganders, our families and friends have to live with the consequences of damage to our environment.  I will be paying careful attention to this evening’s public discussion on raising the allowable Sulfur Dioxide emissions. More importantly, I will be watching for evidence that our state’s regulators have learned some lesson from their recent terrible mistakes.”