Russ Harding, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, planned to pull together a secret meeting with environmental regulators and utility/industry representatives to talk about how to weaken the Clean Air Act under a new EPA administration. Members of the public and environmental groups were not invited to the meeting, and our requests to participate have been denied.
The industry representatives have pulled out of the meeting, and the department is now contending that just technical issues are going to be discussed. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 27, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel at Detroit Metro Airport.
We have decided to hold a public rally outside the hotel starting at 9:30 a.m. to highlight the inappropriate nature of the meeting. We have been authorized by airport officials to gather between the Davey Terminal (Northwest) and the Marriott Hotel. We encourage signs calling for the state to support cleaner air and not waste money on meetings like this. Political signs are not acceptable. MEC does not endorse candidates. For more information call James Clift (517) 487-9539.
MEC believes that the meeting is inappropriate for the following reasons:
1. The public is not invited. What are Russ Harding and the Department of Environmental Quality trying to hide?
2. The State of Michigan should not be leading any effort like this. Public money should not be used to plan how things might change if the EPA administration changes. The MDEQ should be working with the current EPA administration on changes they think need to be made regarding implementation of the Clean Air Act. Meeting to plan how things may change seven months before an election sounds more like politics to us.
3. Environmental groups deserve more information regarding the positions being taken by state officials in these discussions.
What are they doing to improve public health?
Are they advocating for mandatory mercury reductions from utility plants?
Are they advocating that old coal-fired power plants should at some time be required to use the best available pollution control equipment to limit pollution?
Will changes they are advocating let industrial violators off the hook?
James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48912