Wednesday, September 02, 1998
"Agency's Policy Destroys Jobs and Development"Governor John Engler criticized the Environmental Protection Agency's so-called "environmental justice" policy at a press conference today in Genesee Township. Engler was joined by state and local officials concerned about job loss from the EPA's actions--actions that may cause the loss of 200 jobs linked to the new Select Steel project. "This is not just about the Select Steel project," said Governor Engler. "This is about every company that has ever had to deal with the EPA's reckless, ill-defined policy on environmental justice. Environmental policies should be protective of all human health and safety. The EPA's current effort bypassed normal policy making rules in a sneaky effort to heap new, unsupported burdens on businesses. This 'guidance' from the EPA is vague, and does not address specific methods of environmental protection equally for all citizens. "The EPA is imposing their bureaucratic will over this community and punishing a company with the latest environmental standards, all because of a baseless complaint," Engler said. "The net result is that the EPA is a job killer. No environmental justice complaint has ever been resolved quickly by this paralyzed agency." Engler was joined by Russ Harding, director of the state's Department of Environmental Quality, which approved a permit for Select Steel after hearings earlier this year; and Doug Rothwell, CEO and department director of the Michigan Jobs Commission. The Michigan Jobs Commission has been working with Select Steel since May 1996 to bring new jobs to the area. "Clearly, all steps had been taken to protect every community resident, regardless of race or economic background," said Harding. "The Select Steel permit was a well-planned, technically sound permit that would have allowed the company to be a substantial economic contributor to this community. Instead, the narrow-minded, unrealistic policies dictated by Washington are needlessly sending environmentally conscious, law-abiding job providers out of Michigan." "This whole situation has been mind-boggling," said Rothwell. "As the Detroit News reported, the EPA hasn't even analyzed the demographics of the area around the mill. This analysis alone is enough to put this complaint to rest, but at every turn the EPA's efforts become less about environment and more about government intrusion. It's time to let this project continue and put this whole policy, and the EPA's handling of it, under a microscope." Select Steel, a proposed $175 million mini-steel mill is considering a site in Genesee Township. The mill is expected to employ about 200 area residents. The company has said they will locate their plant in Toledo, Ohio, if the EPA cannot resolve this complaint within 45 days. The EPA has acknowledged to the Detroit News that no such complaint has ever been quickly resolved.