OPINION

Letter: AK Steel should be environmentally compliant

AK Steel has made more than the occasional, human error — demonstrating a pattern of behavior that disregards environmental quality and the health of the surrounding community. Now, House Bills 5557 and 5558 would allow AK Steel to claim Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) tax credits that were awarded to the previous operator of the facility.

Last week, we supported an amendment to House Bill 5557. The amendment would require the company to fully comply with state and federal environmental regulations in order to get the tax credit, and ensure that annual assessments of their pollution control efforts are done. The amendment failed in committee.

Since 2014, AK Steel has had 17 environmental violations at the Dearborn Works facility, the latest violation taking place in November 2015. The facility was previously owned by Severstal, a company notorious for its violations of air quality standards. The most recent violation from AK Steel was just last November — after the company failed to continuously monitor sulfur dioxide.

Some argue that zero environmental quality violations is “too high a standard.” We disagree. In 2015, the Department of Environmental Quality conducted 168 inspections of regulated air sources within Wayne County. The department found that one hundred and fifty two of these sources were compliant with environmental standards, including Dearborn Industrial Generation, General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Sunoco Partners.

So, if it is possible to have zero violations, why shouldn’t we expect big companies like AK Steel to be environmentally compliant, especially considering the tremendous impact they have on the air our children breathe?

Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit

Rep. George Darany, D-Dearborn