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State to remove 450 chemicals from list of 1200 toxic chemicals requiring modeling

Photo by d.boyd, Flickr

State officials plan to remove hundreds of chemicals from a long list that requires companies to perform  modeling of smokestack emissions. 

The Michigan Manufacturers Association says each model can cost between $20,000 and $100,000, and removing the chemicals will make the process more efficient.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality agrees. 

Spokesman Brad Wurfel, in an email statement, said:

This will help DEQ Air permitting staff target attention on the most common, known and harmful air pollutants that are part of manufacturing processes. It’s been alleged that this is some kind of reduction of environmental protection, and that is simply not true. The DEQ in this process retains its authority, directive and responsibility to regulate any potential air contaminant in the permitting process, whether it is on the list or not. If a company submits a permit application with a significant proposed emission level of anything, DEQ still will be in position to require limits for it. There are many chemicals that are unknowns in the air quality mix – either because they are unused or unstudied, or both. DEQ will still have authority to require that, should those kinds of chemicals be proposed in a permit, that they be controlled in the permit at some level or studied before emitted, or both. Michigan’s proposed list (756) is several hundred more chemicals than what EPA uses in its list (187), so it is worth noting our starting point is far more strict than the federal standard.

But James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council says the fact that 250 of the chemicals being removed from the list have never been tested is what concerns him the most.

"We're not even sure if these cause cancer or not, and unfortunately we think that turns the citizens of Michigan into the guinea pigs," Clift said.

There will be one public hearing today before a decision is made whether to finalize the change, which is an administrative rule not requiring legislation.

Clift says his group asked for the hearing to be held in the Detroit area, since it is a manufacturing-heavy area of the state and concerned citizens would more easily be able to attend.  The Michigan Environmental Council even offered to pay the costs of the hearing, he says, but the state declined and scheduled the hearing in Lansing.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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