Michigan DEQ Updates Permitting Rules, Rejects Calls to Reduce Oversight of Toxic Emissions

April 4, 2016

For more information:
Lynn Fiedler, 517-284-6774, fiedlerl@michigan.gov
Barb Rosenbaum, 517-284-6759, rosenbaumb@michigan.gov

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced today a decision to retain strong protection of public health by rejecting proposed changes to air program rules that would limit the number of toxic chemicals regulated by the State of Michigan.

This action finalizes a review of Michigan’s air permitting rules. Significant public concerns were expressed during the public comment period on the proposed changes that would have restricted DEQ authority to approximately 600 chemicals. Retaining the broad authority to review the health effects of any and all chemicals released into our air from new and modified facilities keeps in place the strong protection of public health the agency has employed in the air program for the last 25 years.

“This decision demonstrates our strong commitment to clean air for Michigan citizens,” said DEQ Air Quality Division Chief Lynn Fiedler. “Eliminating the safe guard for chemicals that have yet to be studied, as well as limiting the pollutants subject to regulation, would unnecessarily weaken current regulations. We agree with the public’s concerns about potential risks to health and will retain our strong air toxic program.”

Originally established in 1992, the air toxics rules authorize the review and analysis of proposed emissions of toxic air contaminants (TACs) for new or modified sources seeking a Permit to Install from the DEQ. The rules will retain the use of a default screening level for TACs that have little toxicological data but nevertheless may pose risks to the environment or human health.

Other proposed changes to the air permitting rules will continue forward in the rule adoption process. The DEQ intends to add new public review opportunities on toxic screening levels, remove obsolete dates in the Renewable Operation Permit rules, and make minor changes to the rules identifying small air pollution sources not required to obtain a Permit to Install.