DETROIT – Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Michigan State Senator Stephanie Chang (SD-01) recognized a short-term victory for East Side residents and environmental justice advocates who have been organizing to protect their public health by advocating for more air quality mitigations. This comes after the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) rejected FCA’s air monitoring and additional project plans for the expansion. These plans are requirements listed in the FCA air quality permits issued by the state last spring. In their January 24, 2020 letter, EGLE called the FCA plan “unacceptable” and referenced the specific points listed in a community petition that FCA failed to properly address. The letter can be viewed here.
Noting that the state is now demanding more from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Tlaib and Chang called on FCA to step up efforts to protect a vulnerable community who deserve to breathe clean air as the company expands its Jefferson North and Mack Avenue facilities. They are pushing the company to listen to residents in the surrounding community and their demands to improve air quality and the quality of life.
“FCA is a multi-billion-dollar company that should realize that if you are going to ask for public dollars, you must work to improve the communities giving you those dollars. The promises of jobs are not enough to prevent respiratory diseases and ensure we have healthy communities. We can have jobs, improved public health, and tools to improve neighborhoods if FCA focuses on their neighbors and not solely on their bottom line. EGLE’s rejection of their plans sends a clear message – they must do better, because our residents deserve better,” Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said.
In October, Rep. Tlaib and Sen. Chang joined residents who live near the expansion site to demand FCA donate funds to the public health fund, implement air filtration at schools and other sites with vulnerable residents, ensure responsible truck routing, create vegetative buffers, and agree to other plans to improve the quality of life for residents. 844 residents signed the community petition to FCA and EGLE.
“I’m very pleased to see that EGLE listened to residents in their demands for the protection of their public health by rejecting FCA plans and by asking why air filtration programs for vulnerable residents and other key initiatives were not included. Environmental justice is about centering those who are most impacted by pollution; this short-term win would not have happened without the leadership of dedicated community members who spoke up, did their research, and organized neighbors. FCA has an opportunity to be the better neighbors our residents deserve — and it is reassuring to know that the state is on our side in urging more be done,” Senator Stephanie Chang said.
FCA must submit additional plans and strengthen their current plans to EGLE. Rep. Tlaib and Sen. Chang will continue to work with residents to ensure their voices and demands are heard by FCA.
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