Letter from our President and CEO:
In January, I was very excited to be invited to join the Environmental Justice Work Group formed by Governor Snyder. My entire career since the early ’90s has been dedicated to finding ways to advance environmental justice here and across the country. Michigan has been a national leader in research and policy development in environmental justice since 1990.
Cities like Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, and Kalamazoo are in urgent need of transformation and innovation around environmental protections. It’s very unfortunate that the Governor’s initiative was spurred on by a tragic situation around water quality. However, this is a wonderful opportunity to regain momentum on a systemic level. In 2009, a similar work group created an environmental justice plan that has never been implemented. Myself and others in the environmental justice community are hopeful we can build on parts of that work today.
There is, however, one concern I have regarding the recent announcement of the Environmental Justice Work Group composition. The state has not created it in accordance with the Principles of Environmental Justice nor has it created it with balanced voices that will enable the conversation to be heard. As a result, myself and my two other colleagues from the movement who have been appointed to the work group—Dr. Paul Mohai and Dr. Kyle Powys Whyte—recently wrote to the governor expressing our concerns.
You can find our letter here.
I encourage you to express your support for a well-balanced work group to the Governor as well.
Why to attend the public hearing on the incinerator’s air permit violations
Wednesday, March 8, International House, 111 E. Kirby
6 pm information; 7 pm comment period
• The incinerator is located in a low-income community of color. 87% of residents within a mile
are persons of color; 60% live below the federal poverty line. The surrounding community has
a high rate of respiratory illness, particularly asthma, commonly triggered by emissions that
violate the Clean Air Act.
• Less than 20% of the garbage burned at I-94 & I-75 is Detroit garbage; 65% of the garbage
burned at I-94 & I-75 comes from Oakland County
• A low-income community of color bears the environmental and public health burden of burning
municipal solid waste coming mostly from the wealthiest county in the State of Michigan and
one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.
Health impacts of emissions:
• Average emissions from the DRP facility account for approximately 2% of premature deaths,
4% of the hospitalizations, and between 3 and 4% of asthma outcomes among children,
according to analysis of reported emissions data by Community Action to Promote Healthy
• The health impacts attributable to the DRP facility alone cost $2.6 million each year.
Gaps in addressing the violations and deficiencies of the penalty:
• The Violation Notice cites Detroit Renewable Power for 19 distinct air emission violation
incidents, yet the proposed Consent Order addresses only 6.
• The per-day cost of the particulate matter (PM) violations is extremely discounted. PM limits
were exceeded for 64 days and the fine proposed is $8,000, or $125/day. The daily fine for
other violations in the Consent Order is $5,000. 64 days of violation times $5,000 equals
$320,000 alone for PM.
• The incinerator has multiple violations of the Clean Air Act with failure to monitor sulfur dioxide,
carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxides. All of these pollutants are known to harm respiratory
function. These violations should be included in the penalty assessment.
• The draft Consent Order fails to discourage future violations: DRP’s negligence in failure to
perform continuous emissions monitoring, as well as failure to perform cylinder gas audits
should be deemed a History of Noncompliance and Willful Negligence, and a failure of
As drafted with a fine of only $149,000, the draft Consent Order is extremely deficient.
This is your opportunity to speak up:
• for Clean Air for Detroit residents
• for accountability by government agencies that are mandated to protect the public.