To: Detroit Workers' Voice mailing list
June 7, 2016
RE: Demonstrate this Thursday outside MDEQ offices!
From the city of Flint, suffering from lead poisoning, to the city of River Rouge, suffering from horrendous air pollution from the nearby Marathon oil refinery and other industrial plants, to the east side of Detroit, threatened by the expansion of a dangerous hazardous waste plant, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has rubber-stamped one industrial disaster after another.
The April 8th edition of Newsweek had a cover story entitled "Choking to Death in Detroit: Flint isn't Michigan's Only Disaster". It gives some details on the high asthma rates resulting from industrial pollution. It says that:
"According to the latest state data, more than 15 percent of Detroit’s adults have asthma, a 29 percent higher rate than the rest of Michigan. Detroiters are hospitalized for their asthma three times more frequently than other Michiganders. Being black ups the rate significantly: Black Detroiters are hospitalized for asthma at a rate more than 150 percent that of their white neighbors -- and Detroit is 83 percent black. Most of the mini-cities ringed around the heavy industry south of Detroit are majority-black too. Poverty compounds the problem -- it’s not easy managing a chronic illness when you’re making $24,000 a year, the average household income for black Detroit households."
The MDEQ knows that the air is polluted in River Rouge, but it not only approves requests to allow more pollution, but renews industrial permits even when it knows that the companies are violating them. The article points out that MDEQ talks to the polluters, but
"MDEQ granted the plants a permit last year to carry on business as usual."
Naturally, since MDEQ isn't going to do anything, the capitalists simply shrug off the regulations that MDEQ pretends to impose. The article says
"Lynn Fiedler, of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ, the same department blamed for the disaster in Flint, where lead was allowed to remain in the drinking water at levels high enough to poison children), says they’ve been 'working with companies to get them to reduce their emissions,' but she stumbles when trying to explain the holdup: 'It’s been a difficult negotiation,' she says. 'It involves changes in operation,' meaning polluters will likely need to install new equipment, a prospect costly enough to make them balk."
And the result is devastating to the health of people. The article points out that:
"In an editorial published in the 'Detroit Free Press' earlier this year, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, the new director of the Detroit Health Department, said ... 'Constricted lungs, diseased hearts, tumors in the lungs and beyond: These are consequences that the MDEQ wants Detroiters to accept,' El-Sayed wrote, lambasting the agency for moving ahead with Marathon’s SO 2 permit. 'They have done so for years, and enough is enough.' "
The MDEQ - and the capitalists and politicians who control it - are overseeing the poisoning of the people of Michigan, and especially of areas which are disproportionately black or Latino or working class or poor. It is really the Department of Environmental Devastation and Racism. A number of organizations are coming together in a common protest against it this Thursday, June 9.
This demonstration is supported by the Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology and organized by a number of environmental organizations which are fighting against poisoning and environmental racism. The following appeal comes from the text of one of the leaflets being circulated for this demonstration:
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is supposed to be working to protect our health. Instead, they're worried about the bottom line for corporations that do not care about the environmental quality and continue to pollute our air, land and water and facilitate the privatizing of our public water systems. Our concerns:
We will deliver thousands of signatures to demand that our health become the priority, not bottom line greed
Signs provided or bring your own
The Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology also had its own leaflet for this demonstration
Detroit Workers' Voice is one of the members of the Coalition to
Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology, and we urge everyone to come out to
support this protest
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Posted on June 8, 2016