Community working session on pollution in Delray

A friend passed this info along. The EPA is holding a community working session to figure out how to redress the harm that Severstal Steel has done/will continue to do with pollution in Southwest and Dearborn.

Community Working Session

May 6th 4-6:30 PM

Delray Community Center, 420 Leigh Street Detroit MI

The  US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Department of Justice (DOJ) and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)  will be hosting a working session to solicit ideas for supplemental environmental projects (SEP) related to a possible settlement of alleged Clean Air Act violations asserted against Severstal Dearborn’s steel manufacturing plant in the future. 

A supplemental environmental project is an environmentally beneficial project that a defendant agrees to undertake to settle an enforcement action, but which it is not otherwise legally required to perform.  The ultimate decision to participate in the SEP process and the project proposal will come from Severstal Dearborn. US EPA, MDEQ and DOJ will gather ideas to pass along to Severstal. These agencies will have to approve any project proposal prior to its inclusion in a settlement.  All such projects must comply with the SEP policy*, including the requirement to have an adequate “nexus” to the violation. This means that there must be a specific connection between the proposed project and the violation.

In this case, EPA and MDEQ have issued violation notices to Severstal, alleging, among other things, that it has violated state and federal rules limiting particulate matter emissions from Severstal’s iron and steel-making operations. 

We are looking for projects that relate to the violations and can be scaled to different project sizes. We will collect comments limited to five minutes in length and will collect any other ideas in writing after the meeting.

 

Questions?  Contact:

Kasey Barton, Associate Regional Counsel

US EPA Region 5

Barton.Kasey@epa.gov         Ph: 312-886-7163

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Leaked e-mail: DDOT’s April 5 hearings were intentionally scheduled to reduce media attention

When I found out at the last minute on April 5 that the Detroit Department of Transportation was holding hearings about yet another round of service cuts later that afternoon, the fact that the hearings were scheduled for Tigers Opening Day did not strike me as the actions of a government that wanted the hearings to get much media attention.

But to actually get proof of that? Ouch.

@Detroit_DOT, a very funny and clearly satirical twitter feed posing as DDOT, posted what appears to be an e-mail written by Naomi Patton, Press Secretary for the Office of Mayor Dave Bing (Also visible here). Several DDOT employees and representatives of the Mayor’s Office are included in the thread. In the thread, they discuss the fact that April 5, when they’d planned to have public hearings, is Tigers Opening Day. Naomi Patton’s alleged e-mail reads,

“I dare say it’s the perfect day to have a public hearing if you want to avoid media.

“Having covered Tigers Opening Day on more than one occasion, I can guarantee you the people who would attend this hearing ARE NOT going to Opening Day, and the media will be primarily, otherwise occupied. The people will definitely still be there and they will still be upset, but you won’t have as much media attention as a slower news day would warrant.”

In fairness, the posted e-mail thread features new DDOT CEO Ron Freeland bringing up the schedule issue as potentially problematic, stating “this is not a good day to have a public event.”

What was the result of the Mayor’s Office and DDOT’s ultimate decision to host hearings on Opening Day? Word barely got out about the hearings. Six weeks prior, the DDOT hearing I went to was well-attended and quite angry. This time around, at the same location and time of day as before, the room was virtually empty. Transit wonks outnumbered people whose primary relationship to DDOT is simply riding it.

I will note that DDOT COO and conservative talk show host Bill Nojay took the opportunity to informally answer questions from the audience moreso than at previous hearings, but it was cold comfort in light of the absence of those who will be most gravely affected by these cuts.

DDOT’s previous round of public hearings regarding service cuts took place after new schedules had been printed, in blatant violation of legal requirements that public comments be taken into consideration. At the February 24 hearing I attended, they concluded the meeting by very abruptly letting us know that they’d go ahead with the cuts as planned. They weren’t even pretending that they were going to take our comments into consideration, which is legally required.

DDOT will host a follow-up meeting this week. From their website:

“DDOT has scheduled a  follow-up meeting for the public hearings that were held on Thursday, April 5, 2012. The meeting will be held Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at the DDOT Main Office – 1301 E. Warren Ave, Room 107 for 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.”

Spread the word.