Proposed new clean air rules would focus on fewer chemicals

airport

The state Department of Environmental Quality has proposed new clean air rules. The DEQ said they will allow regulators to focus more attention on the most toxic substances.

The environmental agency currently has a list of more than 12-hundred substances that trigger an automatic review when they’re mentioned as part of an application for a smokestack permit. The new, shorter list would have closer to 750. Karen Tommasulo is with the DEQ.

“Before it was a rather open-ended process, so we want to focus staff time on the substances of most concern to public health.”

Tommasulo says that includes carcinogens and chemicals linked to neurological disorders.

“So we’re including carcinogens and things with high toxicity. That allows our staff to focus in and ensure they’re doing the most to protect public health.”

Tommasulo says environmental regulators could still choose to review an emission that’s not on the review list.

Environmental groups oppose the rule change. They say it would scale back how closely the state reviews pollution permits.

Sean Hammond is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He said there’s a lot that’s not known about many of the substances.

“We feel that’s the wrong way to go because there’s no way to tell a community your health is protected because on those 250 chemicals, we simply don’t know what the health effects are.”

There will be a public comment period on the proposed new rules before they are up for final adoption by a legislative committee.