Earlier today, the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press, the city’s largest newspaper, published an opinion piece attacking the proposed changes to air pollutant regulation in Michigan, stressing the importance of protecting citizens’ health over making the state friendlier for business.
The editorial comes in response to a Michigan workgroup’s recommendations to shorten the list of regulated toxic chemicals by nearly 40 percent. Members of the workgroup include consultants from major Michigan industries, including General Motors, Dow Chemical, and DTE Energy. The guidelines recommended by the report, which can be found on the Michigan government’s website, can be adopted under Michigan’s administrative rules process after a six-month period of public comment.
The workgroup only recommends eliminating regulation on the least dangerous pollutants, leaving the most toxic under state control, but the Free Press keeps in mind that “a large quantity of a less-toxic pollutant might be as or even more dangerous than a minute quantity of a more-toxic pollutant.” While acknowledging the “aggressive” regulation already in place from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Freep stresses the “better safe than sorry” approach the state takes in regards to air quality, especially when dealing with the 281 pollutants without health impact data, which are currently assigned the highest value of toxicity.
This is not the only recent attempt by the Snyder administration to gut important environmental regulations: earlier this month, State Attorney General Bill Schuette sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of Michigan over the federal body’s regulations on smokestack pollution, which it claims hurts the economy. The Freep points out that despite all his pro-business initiatives aimed at reviving the lethargic Michigan economy, Governor Snyder has failed to bring the state’s unemployment level below 9 percent, nearly two points above the national average.
The Detroit Free Press editorial board recommends Lansing table the proposed changes once the public comment period ends. WMEAC endorses the board’s comments and agrees with its view that Michigan’s business climate should not take precedent over its natural climate.