Democratic Reps Propose Air Quality Reforms
LANSING —State Reps. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids), Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw), Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park), and Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) have introduced an air quality bill package with proposals to protect public health through enhancing air quality standards and strengthening the permitting process.
“We need to hold corporations accountable, especially those that request to emit additional pollutants in areas that already have questionable air quality,” Rep. Hammoud said. “This is discrimination by pollution, and it has to stop. Neighborhoods in Dearborn border the epicenter of the asthma burden, an area where asthma rates that are up to two to four times higher than the state average. Under current law, the DEQ is not permitted to consider the total amount of pollutants being emitted by all corporations within a neighborhood. My bill would require the DEQ to take into account the entirety of the pollution within a neighborhood, by all the corporations, when considering any additional permits.”
These proposals focus on environmental justice, transparency, accountability, local control, and expanding permit criteria. The bills are as follows:
- HB 6139 (Rep. LaGrand): Requires all state departments and agencies to consider air quality when making decisions, and to establish air quality criteria.
- HB 6140 (Rep. Guerra): Requires the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to notify legislators in the district where a permit is requested to increase emissions.
- HB 6141 (Rep. Yancey): Requires the entity requesting the permit to increase emissions to have a representative present at the public hearing, and to address questions and concerns from the public.
- HB 6142 (Rep. Clemente): Requires the DEQ to consider certain socioeconomic variables when reviewing a permit request.
- HB 6143 (Rep. Hammoud): Requires the DEQ to take into consideration the cumulative air quality impact when considering permits.
- HB 6144 (Rep. Santana): Creates a process in which a local government could veto a permit to increase air emissions through their passage of a resolution.
“We need to increase accountability for the corporations requesting to increase air pollution. At present, there is no legal requirement for the requester of a permit to address public questions, or even attend the hearing,” Rep. Yancey said. “My bill fixes this unfortunate situation by increasing transparency and accountability. At a minimum, Michiganders deserves to know the specifics on projects that could potentially be exposing their children to air pollution, and then have an opportunity to question the corporations directly.”
“Local control is important, and is severely lacking in the permitting process. Local governments should have the ability to determine what happens in their communities, and if they want additional pollutants to be added to the air that their children breathe,” Rep. Santana said. “This bill creates a process for local governments to be involved in the process by granting them the ability to pass a resolution to block a permit that increases pollutants.”