“I am glad to see that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is holding Marathon Refinery in Detroit accountable for serious 2015 air pollution violations, but I believe that we need to demand more of this company. The incident that took place on May 9, 2015, resulted in Marathon emitting black smoke into the atmosphere for more than three hours, and violating the particulate matter emissions standard. Southwest Detroit, where the refinery is located, is a heavily polluted area, leading to numerous health concerns for residents, especially children and senior citizens. I do not understand, then, why the proposed penalty of more than $85,000 was negotiated down to $62,000. This was not done in a transparent way and brings up questions about MDEQ’s process of determining these civil penalties.
“Southwest Detroit residents, and all Michigan residents, have a right to breathe clean air. When companies violate our laws, they should be fined appropriately so that they take the necessary steps to prevent a problem from occurring again. Negotiating a fine down risks sending the message that a violation is not that serious. Any violation that pollutes the air we breathe is serious and should be treated as such. I am also curious about the fact that the proposed consent order only addresses some of the violations in the May 2015 violation notice, not all of them. In addition, the proposed consent order does not take into account the history of violations that Marathon has. I sincerely hope that MDEQ strongly considers increasing the proposed penalty back to the original amount or higher. Making a strong statement will help us to advance environmental justice in Michigan, and more effectively address the consequences that air pollution and violations such as this one have on our public health.”