WUOMFM

Peters, Stabenow urge EPA to act on Wayne County sulfur dioxide plan

Apr 22, 2016

Credit Courtesy of DTE Energy

Michigan’s US Senators want the Environmental Protection Agency to step in if the state doesn’t act on a plan to curb Wayne County air pollution soon.

In a letter to EPA head Gina McCarthy Friday, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters urged “swift completion” of that plan.

In 2013, part the county was found to be in “non-attainment” with new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was supposed to submit a plan to fix that to the EPA in April 2015. But to date, MDEQ still hasn’t done that.

In their letter, Stabenow and Peters express “great concern” about the missed deadline, and urge the EPA to implement its own enforcement plan if the state doesn’t comply within 60 days.

“In light of continued delays, as well as a lack of action in responding to the Flint water emergency, we are concerned that the MDEQ is not fully committed to this process,” they wrote.

It continues:

“MDEQ released a draft Implementation Plan in August 2015, but the plan did little to demonstrate how this non-attainment area would meet national air quality standards. On March 10, 2016, the EPA issued a finding of Michigan’s failure to submit an Implementation Plan.  Residents of Wayne County simply cannot afford to wait for the process to drag on any longer.

Detroit and Wayne County residents are at risk of exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide, which is well documented to cause significant respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Asthmatics are particularly sensitive to exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide. The rate of asthma hospitalization for Detroit residents is three times higher than that of Michigan as a whole. This burden is disproportionately placed on children.”

MDEQ officials have said that in light of critical feedback received on the draft plan, they’ve spent time retooling their final submission to the EPA.  

Air Quality Division Chief Lynn Fiedler updated the EPA on that progress in an April 7 letter. Fiedler says MDEQ plans to submit the final plan in May.