The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has approved permits to expand the Marathon Petroleum refinery in southwest Detroit, while curbing some of its emissions. DEQ Air Quality Division Chief Lynn Fiedler approved the plans following “voluntary reductions” taken by the refinery to ease its sulfur dioxide pollution. The refinery is taking steps to restrict its permitted emissions by 18 percent. Fiedler says in addition to the Marathon refinery, the DEQ is introducing a policy that would limit other polluters in southwest Detroit.
“We, the DEQ, is in a position to submit our final plan to the U.S. EPA regarding sulfur dioxide and we will be doing that by the end of the month. That plan includes enforceable restrictions on many facilities, so that will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.”
Lynn Fiedler, Michigan DEQ Air Quality Division Chief
Fiedler says that plan would restrict pollution at the River Rouge and Trenton Channel Power Plants. In a statement, Mayor Mike Duggan said the approval is “a step in the right direction toward protecting the health of residents of Southwest Detroit.” State Representative Stephanie Chang says though she welcomes the slight reduction in emissions, she’s calling for cumulative impact studies when industries apply for air quality permits.
“We also need to look at the combination of all the different pollutants in our air because when we look at them individually and compare them to the federal standard, we’re not necessarily getting a good picture of what the combined impact is on all of our health.”
State Representative Stephanie Chang
State officials say public outcry against the initial plan led to the changes on Marathon’s end.