FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: August 29, 2002 Jeff Gearhart, Ecology Center (734) 663-2400 Brad Garmon, MEC (517) 487-9539 Dr. Kenneth Rosenman, MSU (517) 353-1846 Eliot Levinsohn, ALAM (517) 484-1179 MDEQ Re-issues Delta Township Plant Permit New High-Tech Auto Plant Will Not Have Latest Pollution Controls The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued a permit today allowing the General Motors Corporation (GM) to emit more than 1,200 tons of harmful pollution from a new automotive plant near Lansing-without including cost-effective new equipment that would reduce tons of paint shop emissions from Lansing area air. Environmental watchdog groups reviewing the new Delta Township Plant assert the permit violates Clean Air Act protections by not requiring the use of new pollution controls that are affordable based on industry standards. Controls advocated by environmentalists could have eliminated up to 235 tons of Volatile Organic Compounds per year from the plant, or approximately 20% of the pollution permitted by the MDEQ. "MDEQ's own research shows that putting better pollution controls on this plant would cost less than the equipment required at other facilities in the state," said Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center. "This permit isn't fair to the auto industry, or to the people of Michigan who have to breath the air. Even the new Grand River facility down the street does a better job of controlling paint shop emissions." "VOCs represent a health risk in a state where nearly 1.5 million children already live with poor air quality, inhibiting lung development and aggravating pediatric asthma ," said Dr. Kenneth D. Rosenman, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Michigan State University. "VOCs combine with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, which is harmful to the 900,000 Michigan residents who suffer from asthma." MEC's Brad Garmon said the costs of adding newer technology to eliminate the pollutants at the Delta Township plant are about the same costs for pollution controls currently being used at other manufacturing plants in Michigan. "For approximately $5 per car-well within the range of costs at other plants-GM could have installed a newer system that would have sharply reduced air pollution. Particularly at a time when America's corporations are asking for trust, the decision by our largest corporate resident to put our kids at risk is disappointing." The Ecology Center's Gearhart said the Clean Air Act is designed to ensure that companies like GM use the best available technology to reduce air pollution. "Unfortunately, until the leadership of the MDEQ issues permits consistent with the Clean Air Act, new technology will sit on a shelf instead of saving kids and communities," said Gearhart. The permit issued by MDEQ will allow GM to move forward with construction while environmental groups weigh options for getting the add-on controls installed. Based in Ann Arbor, the Ecology Center is a regional environmental organization which works for clean air, safe water, and environmental justice. The Michigan Environmental Council, based in Lansing, is a statewide coalition of more than 64 environmental, public health, and faith-based organizations.