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Farm bill developments further food assistance stigma by including work requirements and diet education

OKT would like to point out that the developing farm bill further stigmatizes people receiving food assistance by including work requirements and education stipulations. These imply that the reason for hunger and under-nutrition is that people are unwilling to work and/or unable to make smart food choices. In fact, the problem is lack of  employment opportunities that pay a living wage and limited access to healthy foods within income-challenged neighborhoods. –Editor

GetStoredImageAugust Update:
2018 Farm Bill
Nutrition Programs

By: Grace Michienzi

Back in June, the Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill with a bipartisan 86-11 vote, according to the Washington Post (Dewey and Werner). This followed the partisan passing of the House of Representatives version of the Farm Bill, which had no support of the Democratic Party, primarily because of its “strict work requirements on able-bodied adults” seeking SNAP participation (Dewey and Werner). According to the Congressional Calendar, both the House and the Senate are currently in August recess, however, with the September 30 deadline approaching, the work on the Farm Bill is not over (“Days”).

According to Politico, the Senate voted to conference the Farm Bill on July 31 (Rodriguez). This is because, now that both parts of Congress have passed their versions of the Farm Bill, the House and the Senate have to come together to conference their bills and will end up with one bill that will pass both houses by the September 30 deadline. Senator Mitch McConnell is hopeful that conferees from the House and the Senate will produce a report after Labor Day, according to Politico (Rodriguez). According to the article, the changes to work requirements and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will likely be the biggest cause for debate, both between the two parties and between the House and the Senate (Rodriguez).

Some are speculating why the focus of the Nutrition Programs has even been on work requirements. According to The Hill, the work requirements have been a large part of the bipartisan debate in the House and the Senate, however, the proposed changes would only affect a “relatively small percentage of SNAP recipients” (Glickman et al). The writers suggest that the actual conversation should be about diet, citing research done at Tufts University that presents that SNAP recipients have a lower quality diet than income-eligible non-participants (Glickman et al). The editorial argues that amending funding that goes to SNAP-ed, a program that aims to educate SNAP recipients on nutrition, will “make SNAP even more effective for those it serves—and a better use of the public’s money” (Glickman et al).

According to SNAP-Ed Connection, Michigan’s Implementing Agencies of SNAP-Ed are Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Nutrition Network – Michigan Fitness Foundation (“State”). According to the writers at The Hill, there has never been a more important time for the debate about Nutrition to refocus, however, it is unlikely that the debate will change this late in the year (Glickman et al).

 

Works Cited

“Days in Session of the U.S. Congress.” Congress.Gov, Library of Congress, United States

Copyright Office, congress.gov/days-in-session.

Dewey, Caitlin, and Erica Werner. “Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Sweeping Farm Bill,

Setting up Fight with House.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 June 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/senate-passes-sweeping-farm-bill-setting-up-fight-with-house/2018/06/28/0007d532-7aff-11e8-80be-6d32e182a3bc_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2f17cf43668e.

Glickman, Dan, et al. “Focusing on Nutrition Is Paramount to Getting a Sound, Bipartisan

Farm Bill Out.” The Hill, Capitol Hill Publishing Corporation, 10 Aug. 2018, thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/401209-focusing-on-nutrition-is-paramount-to-getting-a-sound-bipartisan-farm-bill.

Rodriguez, Sabrina. “Senate Finally Votes to Conference Farm Bill.” Politico, POLITICO, 1

Aug. 2018, http://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-agriculture/2018/08/01/senate-finally-votes-to-conference-farm-bill-303256.

“State SNAP-Ed Contacts: Michigan.” SNAP-Ed Connection, United States Department of

Agriculture, 6 Aug. 2018, snaped.fns.usda.gov/state-snap-ed-contacts/michigan.

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Negotiations for white space: Quest to enact robust human rights ordinance in Grand Rapids

Reposted from The Rapidian. By Lyonel Lagrone, 7/17/18 11:40am, Place Matters.

Grand Rapids

To gain true equality in Grand Rapids a new municipal vision of belonging must be imagined. A belonging that allows black and brown bodies to speak into the formation and reconfiguration of policies that actually protect them from illegal discrimination.

The fungible nature of basic citizen rights afforded to minorities in Grand Rapids has been the impetus for the racial tension for quite some time now. Discrimination is clearly a national problem and not unique to Grand Rapids. Nevertheless, one of the most profound enclosures of black and brown access to economic opportunity, housing and public accommodation in the United States is in the City of Grand Rapids.

For over a year now, I have been involved in individual and collective conversations about the state of race relations in the City of Grand Rapids. It has become abundantly clear to me that, in the words of Andrew Hacker, we essentially reside in two cities that share the same name and boundaries, “One black, one white, [and those cities are] separate, hostile and unequal.” What was birthed out of those conversations is a draft of a new Human Rights Ordinance for the City of Grand Rapids. The newly proposed Human Rights Ordinance represents a culmination of voices. Some on record, but most who spoke and advised in confidence for fear of retaliation.

As I met with people, while simultaneously drafting the ordinance, I found myself immersed in a series of conversations that essentially could be reasonably interpreted as negotiation for black and brown citizenship rights in a predominately white city. The negotiations were quite dynamic.

Internal and External Negotiations

First there were, what I call, the internal negotiations. These were conversations with people and groups that have expressed profound suffering in our city at the hands of illegal discrimination. I’ve heard stories of people losing jobs, being denied promotions, facing illegal evictions, not being allowed to enter places of public accommodations, or made to feel incredibly unwelcome, because of their race or national origin. Most internal negotiations for support of the ordinance resulted in quiet, confidential consultation and an expressed reluctance to show up to any community meeting on the ordinance or go on public record as supporting the ordinance because of fear of retaliation. The major retaliatory fears of this group: loss of employment, as well as social and political capital.

Then there were, what I call, the external negotiations. These are individuals and groups of people, mostly white, who sympathize with a stronger anti-discrimination ordinance but question the practicality of such an effort. Major criticism from this group is the fact that we have federal and state anti-discrimination protections. It’s important to note that these federal and state protections were in effect when Forbes Magazine listed Grand Rapids as one of the worst cities in the United States for Black folks to prosper.

Citizenship Rights

The main question to be asked here is: Are we ready as a city to take Human/Civil Rights as seriously as we take criminal justice?

We have achieved true equality when we swiftly respond to employment discrimination as swiftly as we would respond to theft of property. When we respond to black and brown bodies being held to a higher standard in our places of public accommodation (i.e. black/ brown cover charge v. not for white) as we would an unsafe or impaired driver on our roads. Discrimination, just as criminal acts have devastating effects in the lives of the injured party. Yet we see one as optional. If a group of citizens in an apartment complex called the police and reported massive car break-ins one evening, would the police respond and investigate? Or would they hire an outside consultant to examine the validity of the collective complaint? We all know the answer, the citizens would lodge their complaints and the investigation would commence. Why is that?

The historical mindset of the citizen in Grand Rapids has been cultivated inside the processes of displacement for black and brown bodies. As a result, it is extremely difficult and in most cases impossible for minorities to be considered an equal partner in affirmatively furthering their own civil and human rights, but relegated to the position of student. Never the teacher of their experience, always the student. A student whose sole place in their hometown is to go to work and carry the burden of discrimination and be reprimanded for how they process their experiences with discrimination.

By virtue of this inverse relationship, the connectivity is lost between the municipality and the daily reality of black and brown citizens in our city. Therefore, any attempt at majority rationality will be shallow at best and irrelevant at worst.

To gain true equality in Grand Rapids a new municipal vision of belonging must be imagined. A belonging that allows black and brown bodies to speak into the formation and reconfiguration of policies that actually protect them from illegal discrimination. Policies that are not disrupted in an attempt to maintain the racist aesthetic status quo.

One of the most riveting testimonies I heard during the “internal negotiations” was from a group of black men and women that so eloquently stated that the, “City has a disdain for our sense of Journey.”  In this conversation, the “City” meant the spirit of the municipality as a whole. Unfortunately, this narrative is very common in the Black community. The sense of journey refers to the career aspirations and the quest for what Dr. Randall Jelks terms, “Middle class respectability.” As a result, professionals of color seek opportunities in other towns across the country where their expertise is respected regardless of race or national origin. It is important to note that for every professional of color that leaves Grand Rapids to fulfill their sense of journey and gain that respectability, that is another black/brown person that contributes to the narrative of Grand Rapids being an unwelcome town for people of color.

But I believe there is hope for the future. We can change the trajectory of the separate and unequal narrative. We have an opportunity here to double down on illegal discrimination in Grand Rapids. The proposed Human Rights Ordinance for the City of Grand Rapids will require thorough investigations of complaints of discrimination and seek to make people whole who have been victimized by it.

Right now, the City’s department of Diversity and Inclusion has been tasked with writing a counter proposal (this is common in policy development). Now as we await the City’s response and counter proposal, I am asking everyone who truly cares about fairness and equality to send an email to your commissioner and the Mayor expressing your support for the passage of a Human Rights ordinance with real investigations and remedies. The contact information for your commissioners and the mayor is as follows:

Mayor

Rosalynn Bliss

mayor@grcity.us

Ward 1

Jon O’Connor

joconnor@grcity.us

Kurt Reppart

kreppart@grcity.us

Ward 2

Ruth Kelly

rkelly@grcity.us

Joe Jones

jdjones@grcity.us

Ward 3

Senita Lenear

slenear@grcity.us

Comparing the Farm Bills’ Effects on Nutrition and Farmers Markets: House vs. Senate

 

GetStoredImageby Grace Michienzi,
OKT policy & communications intern

On May 18, The U.S. House of Representatives voted and failed to pass their version of the Farm Bill with a 198 to 213 vote, according to CNBC. House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested that he plans to reintroduce the bill after making negotiations on the Immigration debate in Congress, but it is unclear when the bill would be voted on again, according to the article.

According to NPR, one of the reasons that the bill failed was because of drastic changes to some of the programs that the bill supports. One of the most drastic changes is to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, a program that feeds over 40 million people in need. The changes would alter the criteria for eligible adults, mandating that any adult that receives funding must work or attend a job-training program for at least 20 hours per week or risk losing their eligibility. According to the USDA website, the SNAP rules already involve a work requirement. Adults aged 18 to 50 are limited to three months with three years of SNAP benefits unless they work or participate in a job-training program. However, the failed House version of the Farm Bill mandates that no able-bodied adult within this age range and without dependents would be able to receive benefits without meeting the work requirements, which amounts to about 7 million people, pushing those in between jobs or those who are unemployed out of the SNAP program.

Additionally, other nutritional support programs are at risk of losing funding if a new Farm Bill is not passed by the end of September. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, the 2014 Farm Law will expire at the end of September and if nothing replaces it, the law will revert back to “permanent law” from 1938 legislation. If this happens, extra programs that the law funds will be cut, including programs such as the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Program, and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. The Food Insecurity Nutrition Program is what currently funds half of the Double Up Food Bucks Program in Michigan, which allows SNAP recipients to “double” the amount of fruits and vegetables they buy at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. If a Farm Bill is not passed by September 30, these programs will all expire.

On the other hand, the Senate is focused on a much more bipartisan and less controversial bill that will likely be easier to pass by the September 30 deadline, according to Agri-Pulse. Although the official bill has not been released to the public yet, it is said to be much more moderate in its crafting. According to the article, Senate leaders including Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow have reached a deal that will be acted upon by the board panel by Wednesday. The current draft does not include any new eligibility exemptions regarding work hours like the House Bill does. In fact, most of the changes are minor and the bill is considered to be very similar to the 2014 bill, according to Ag-Web.

The Senate bill was crafted this way to get more votes in order to pass the bill by the September 30 deadline, which means that programs like Double Up Food Bucks may not lose their funding. According to an interview with KTIC Radio, Republican Senator Deb Fischer said that it does not make sense to bring up contentious debate about the Nutrition programs when they need to get the Farm Bill passed soon. According to the article, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate may appear to be working together to get this bipartisan legislation passed, but it remains unclear whether President Trump will sign or pass the legislation when and if it makes it to his office.

 

Sources:

 

Booker, Brakkton, and Dan Charles. “Republican Farm Bill Calls On Many SNAP

Recipients To Work Or Go To School.” National Public Radio, NPR, 12 Apr. 2018. Accessed 5 June 2018.

Brasher, Philip, and Spencer Chase. “Senate Ag leaders reach deal on farm bill.” Agri-Pulse,

Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc., 7 June 2018. Accessed 7 June 2018.

Doeschot, Bryce. “(Video) Senate Agriculture Committee Leaders Announce Farm Bill

Consideration.” KTIC Radio, Nebraska Rural Radio Association, 7 June 2018. Accessed 7 June 2018.

Feldman, Ben. “What does the House Farm Bill ‘No’ Vote Mean for Farmers Market?.” Farmers

Market Coalition. Accessed 6 June 2018.

Herath, John. “Date Set for Senate Farm Bill Markup.” Ag-Web, Farm Journal Media, 7 June

  1. Accessed 8 June 2018.

Prumak, Jacob. “House fails to pass farm bill amid Republican rebellion over immigration.”

CNBC, CNBC LLC, 18 May 2018. Accessed 6 June 2018.

“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” United States Department of Agriculture

Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 26 Feb. 2018. Accessed 8 June 2018.

OKT comments on State’s Lead Poisoning report: Why no mention of higher incidence among children of color?

EFFECTS.jpgOn May 31, Our Kitchen Table attended a hearing at the Kent County Health Department to comment on the  Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board  report, “Roadmap to Eliminating Child Lead Exposure.”  (See OKT’s comments below.)

Governor Rick Snyder established the board through executive order because “because “…there exists a need in state government for a coordinated effort to design a long term strategy for eliminating child lead poisoning in the state of Michigan.” The board consists of medical, environmental, and child education experts, academics, civic leaders, and state department representatives.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently awarded OKT a $75, 000 Child Lead Exposure Elimination Innovation Grant. Find OKT’s comments on the report below.

The members of the board present were genuinely and passionately concerned about childhood lead poisoning. The CLEEC_Action_Plan they have developed is a great framework for eliminating lead poisoning. It includes recommendations for better testing of home and daycare environments, having all children tested for lead poisoning, testing pregnant women at-risk for lead poisoning, and getting the medical community to be more vigilant about lead poisoning. In short, the plan seeks to eliminate the deep root causes of lead poisoning so children won’t be exposed in the first place.

This good plan faces one huge obstacle: funding. Those in the room last night suggested that to create lead-safe communities state-wide would cost at least $1 billion. In addition, because of potential costs, groups like the Rental Property Owners Association (RPOA) are actively fighting against enhanced requirements for lead testing–and are quick to blame tenants for lead hazards. While Snyder approved funding the creation of the board, he has not championed funding to implement the action plan. And, when fall elections usher in different elected officials, there’s a possibility that the whole board could be scrapped.

Our Kitchen Table Public Comment on Childhood Lead Poisoning

On behalf of Our Kitchen Table and its executive director, Lisa Oliver-King, I thank you for your work on eliminating childhood lead poisoning. As a grass-roots, nonprofit working for environmental justice through the lens of food justice, OKT would like to state that:

  1. While the report discloses that children living in neighborhoods experiencing income-challenges and older housing stock are more likely to experience lead poisoning, it does not relate that children of color are more likely to experience lead poisoning. In fact, African American children are five times more likely to be poisoned by lead than white children— and Latinx children more than twice as likely as white children. Studies conducted the National Institutes of Health right here in Michigan determined that that, in utero, African American babies are more than twice as likely to be lead poisoned. As one of the outcomes of prenatal lead poisoning is premature birth, lead poisoning no doubt contributes to African American infant mortality rates being twice that of white infant mortality rates—right here in Kent County. In addition, the report speaks to higher incarceration rates among those who experienced lead poisoning as children. One could deduce that lead poisoning is also partly responsible for the African Americans having higher rates of incarceration. It’s more than the school to prison pipeline. It’s also a poisoned to prison pipeline. Thus, childhood lead poisoning in Michigan is not just a public health concern but also a justice and civil rights issue. The high rates of lead poisoning among African American children reveal yet another facet of institutional racism.

  2. The report acknowledges soil contamination as contributing to lead poisoning. Through our food gardening work in Grand Rapids 49507, a zip code reporting one of the highest number of lead poisoned children in the state, OKT has discovered that housing stock is not the only contributor to soil contamination. More than a century ago, the area had orchards. Lead was an ingredient in pesticides then used, as well as arsenic. Therefore, sampling soil near built structures is not enough. No doubt, other means of lead contamination have impacted soil in other regions in the state. Housing stock should not be the only cause considered.

  3. The report does mention nutrition and micro-nutrient supplementation as a means to treat lead poisoned children. Studies have shown that certain foods help absorb lead in the body: dark green vegetables and leafy greens, legumes, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark green vegetables, grapefruit and sweet red pepper. In other words, a healthy, whole foods diet with a huge emphasis on fresh local produce. As the neighborhoods experiencing high childhood lead exposure also experience food apartheid, OKT sees lead poisoning as a food justice issue. If these children — and their mothers — had access to these healthy foods prior to lead exposure, no doubt they would suffer fewer repercussions. The lack of access to healthy foods also bequeaths these same children with a host of other health problems: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and behavior issues that Impact school performance.

 

What does the House Farm Bill ‘No’ Vote Mean for Farmers Market?

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Farm Bill cuts to farmers’ markets’ funding will impact the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market’s and other local farmers’ markets’ programs.

Reposted from the Farmers’ Market Coalition Newsletter

Last Friday, the House of Representatives voted down a draft of the farm bill, with thirty House Republicans joining all of the Democrats in voting ‘no’ on the bill. Thanks to YOU and our allies in food and farming who made their voices heard through visits, emails, and calls, this harmful bill developed opposition across the political spectrum! Many of the ‘no’ votes were based on the substance of the bill itself, while some members of the Freedom Caucus opted to vote ‘no’ in an effort to get a vote on an immigration bill that they support.

If you have a moment, now would be a great time to thank your Representative if they voted no on the bill. You can find the results of the vote here. If your Representative voted no, you can still contact them to express your concern.

So what now?

While exactly what happens next is unclear, we do know that the results of Friday’s vote means it’s less likely that a new farm bill will be complete when the current one expires on September 30th. News this week suggests that House Republicans plan to bring the bill up for another vote on June 22, after voting on the immigration bill in question. It remains unclear if there would be enough votes to pass the bill, especially if no additional changes are made to the bill.

Even if the House does pass a bill, they will have to reconcile it with the Senate version. The Senate version is expected to be much more bipartisan, and as a result, very different from the House version.
What happens if a new bill isn’t negotiated in time?

Should Congress fail to pass a new bill or at least extend the current bill, farm bill programs would revert to what is known as “permanent law,” written back in 1938. This threat has historically served as motivation to complete a deal on time. In the event that lawmakers aren’t able to agree on a new farm bill by September 30th, the most likely scenario is that they will extend current bill, as was done in 2012.

Unfortunately for farmers markets and the farmers who depend on them, a standard extension would only include those programs that have what is known as baseline funding, which would not include the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Food Insecurity Nutrition Program, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition.

Fortunately, some legislators are already beginning to think about the fate of these programs and plan for their future.  FMC is working with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to advocate for continued funding for these important programs.

House Farm Bill Increases Pesticide Risks to Children, Farmworkers

TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2018

The House farm bill includes several proposals that would roll back key pesticide protections, putting children, farmworkers, communities and even endangered species at risk.

Pesticides pose serious health risks, particularly to children. For example, chlorpyrifos is a potent neurotoxin that harms children’s brain development. Other pesticides have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues like lower sperm countsenvironmental harms, and acute health effects like nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Some pesticides, such as atrazine, which is linked to reproductive harm, routinely contaminate drinking water systems.

Because federal laws fall short of protecting Americans from the potential hazards of pesticides, some states and local governments have stepped in to protect their communities by enacting their own restrictions. This map, created by our colleagues at Beyond Pesticides,  shows the number and diversity of communities that have taken action.

For example:

  • Cherry Hill, N.J., just outside of Philadelphia, has a pesticide-free parks program.
  • Rockland County, N.Y., restricts the use of pesticides on public property.
  • New Paltz, N.Y., banned the use of toxic pesticides on village-owned lands and adopted organic pest-control methods.
  • North Miami, Fla., has an integrated pest management law that would restrict the use of some pesticides on city property and encourages use of pesticides to be a last resort.
  • Irvine, Calif., restricts the use of pesticides on public property, including playgrounds, in favor of organic pest control methods.
  • Encinitas, Calif., also has a policy restricting use of some toxic pesticides, neonicotinoids, and urges the use of the least-toxic pesticide first.
  • Washington, D.C., restricts use of toxic pesticides in public spaces like schools, some private spaces like day-care centers, and properties near bodies of water.
  • Wichita, Kan., launched a pilot pesticide-free parks program.
  • South Euclid, Ohio, banned spraying pesticides in parks and on other city-owned properties.

But the House farm bill targets these kind of local restrictions, putting kids and communities at risk.

The House version of the farm bill, introduced last month, would block local governments from adopting their own pesticide regulations, even if those regulations are designed to protect kids and other vulnerable populations. Section 9101 of the bill would prevent cities, counties and communities from passing laws banning the most toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos, or restricting spraying in places like schools or playgrounds where children might be exposed. Given the critical role that local governments have historically played in regulating pesticide use, this would be a significant setback for public health.

The House bill would also allow farmers to directly spray pesticides into drinking water supplies. Under current law, farmers must get a permit before they can spray pesticides into water, including sources of drinking water. Sections 9117 and 9118 remove the federal requirement that farmers get a permit before spraying pesticides into water and prohibit states from imposing their own requirements.

Making it easier to spray toxic pesticides into sources of drinking water and removing government oversight undoubtedly increases the likelihood drinking water will be contaminated. It also increases the burden on water utilities to clean up the messes pesticide applicators make.

The House farm bill could also hurt the farmworkers responsible for applying pesticides.

Farmworkers are often responsible for applying pesticides, and handling the crops and land where pesticides have been sprayed. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 workers may be poisoned by pesticides every year. To better protect the most vulnerable workers, in 2015 the EPA finalized new agricultural worker protection requirements that imposed age requirements for handling pesticides and required better training and access to information for workers. Recently, the EPA delayed implementation of these new requirements and announced plans to roll back some of the key workers’ protections in 2015 rule.

In response, a group of senators led by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., placed a hold on the reauthorization of a key government pesticide registration program until they receive adequate assurance that workers would be protected. Instead of addressing Udall’s concerns and protecting farmworkers from pesticide exposure, the House farm bill simply reauthorizes the program without any farmworker protections.

The House bill also threatens endangered species.

Under current law, the EPA must consult with other agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service before approving a pesticide that could impact an endangered or threatened species. Section 9111 of the House bill would allow the EPA to approve pesticides without going through this process, and would limit the ability of groups to sue when an endangered species is threatened by a pesticide approval. Another provision in the bill would allow for some uses of methyl bromide, a neurotoxic fumigant pesticide currently being phased outbecause it contributes to ozone depletion.

These provisions show how the farm bill is being used to systematically weaken – instead of strengthen – pesticide protections. Congress should prioritize safety for kids and communities, not protect pesticide manufacturers.

While Natural Gas Pipelines Tear through Michigan, MDEQ grants a place to burn– in Dearborn MI

On Friday April 13, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the permit for DTE Energy to burn “natural gas”, also known as methane gas, in Dearborn Michigan. MDEQ approved the permit, despite the calls from over 100 residents asking MDEQ to deny the permit due to the impact on public health.

In a March community meeting residents, advocates, public health and legal experts met to discuss the permit. University of Michigan scholar Amy Schulz described the health impacts the pollution could have on children, even unborn children, by contaminants coming from the then proposed plant. Dearborn MI is already overburdened by toxic air pollution from dense concentrations of smokestacks and roadway pollution. Nick Leonard of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, described how DTE Energy did NOT explore the best pollution controls for protecting human health. Union of Concerned Scientist’s JC Kibbey described better, cheaper, cleaner solutions for Michigan through renewable energy and storage which can create MORE jobs that fossil fuels, pushing against the “rush to gas” narrative.

While natural gas pipelines tear through Michigan countrysides, new gas plants are the places where this will likely be burnt. In 2013, the NEXUS pipeline began developing plans for a 255-mile interstate natural gas transmission pipeline to deliver natural gas from eastern Ohio to southeastern Michigan.  A 50/50 partnership between DTE Energy and Enbridge, this pipeline will deliver methane gas. The project is expected to be completed in late this year.

Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition will be meeting with the Environmental Justice Liaison for MDEQ, Katie Kruse this Wed. April 18, 4pm-6pm at the Michigan State University Detroit Center, 3408 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201. This event is open to the public.