MDEQ Cuts Dangerous Deals with Dow Chemical
Department Rolls Over on its Own Policies to Appease Known Polluter
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) decision to ignore known health threats—as well as its own policy on enforcement—has environmental groups calling for the department to abandon a proposed consent order that incorporates “another sweetheart deal” for Dow Chemical.
“MDEQ’s decision to overrule staff and not uphold its own standards, at the request of a known violator, is part of a pattern of failure when it comes to enforcement,” said James Clift, Policy Director of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The failure of MDEQ leaders to make Dow Chemical comply with environmental laws not only undermines confidence in the department but places the public at risk.”
The consent order arises from Clean Air Act and waste management violations by Dow between February 15, 2001 and August 1, 2001. The MDEQ penalty summary for these infractions includes up to $4.5 million in penalties. The proposed consent order would settle with Dow for only $400,000, plus completion of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs).
MDEQ requires that SEPs provide benefits to the local environment beyond those required by law. Dow’s proposed SEP, which would treat on-site groundwater, benefits Dow but not the local environment. Despite MDEQ staff and Department of Attorney General recommendations to reject Dow Chemical’s SEP proposal because it fails to meet these MDEQ requirements, the project is still being considered. If accepted, Dow would receive $400,000 credit toward the settlement of their penalties.
In a similar incident earlier this week, after promising not to weaken regulatory standards on dioxin until E.P.A. studies are completed later this year, MDEQ Director Russell Harding filled a request by Dow to relax Michigan's dioxin cleanup standard for residential areas from 90 parts per trillion to 150 parts per trillion.
“The Department is ignoring potential public health risks posed by the release of these contaminants; they’re failing to enforce environmental policies that would require testing of the area and removal of unsafe levels of contaminants in the community,” stated Terry Miller, Chair of the Lone Tree Council.
A public hearing is scheduled tonight in Midland in the Garden Room
of the Midland Center for the Arts at 7:00 p.m.
James Clift (517) 487-9539
Terry Miller (989) 686-6386