LANSING — State Representatives George T. Darany (D-Dearborn) and Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) testified before the House Tax Policy Committee today as the committee considered House Bills 5557 and 5558, legislation to allow AK Steel, through its Dearborn Works facility, to continue to claim MEGA tax credits that were awarded to the previous operator of the facility. Specifically, the representatives urged the adoption of an amendment to HB 5557 to require the company to fully comply with state and federal environmental regulations, and to annually assess their pollution control efforts. Unfortunately, the amendment narrowly failed.
“I recognize the need to attract and retain businesses in all areas of the state, and I praise AK Steel for providing good-paying jobs,” said Darany, whose district includes the Dearborn Works. “However, when a company receives tax credits, I believe it has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen and in good standing, and rectify any negative outstanding issues the business might have.”
AK Steel acquired the Dearborn Works from Severstal in 2014. HBs 5557 and 5558 close a loophole in Michigan’s tax laws that prevents one company that merges with or acquires another to claim tax credits awarded to the previous company. There have been notable pollution issues arising from AK Steel’s operation, many of which date back to Severstal’s operation of the facility. Although AK Steel has addressed many of these issues, persistent pollution issues remain a major concern. For example, just last November, AK Steel received a notice of violation regarding sulfur dioxide monitoring. Michigan is currently one year overdue for submitting a plan to the federal government on how to come into compliance with federal standards for sulfur dioxide. After defeat of the amendment, the committee voted in favor of both bills, sending them to the House floor.
“I represent some of the most polluted ZIP codes in Michigan, and AK Steel’s operations are a direct contributor to the poor air quality many of my residents struggle with — including asthma hospitalization rates three times higher than the state average,” Chang said. “We can focus on job creation and public health simultaneously, and although the amendment to HB 5557 was defeated, we will continue to pressure AK Steel and others to comply with environmental regulations and do better for the communities in which they are located. All Michiganders deserve clean air to breathe. Today was a missed opportunity to take important steps forward on air quality.”