EPA Opens Public Comment Period on Proposed Federal Plan to Reduce Sulfur Dioxide Air Pollution in Detroit
CHICAGO (June 1, 2022) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the start of 45-day public comment period on its proposed Federal Implementation Plan to reduce sulfur dioxide air pollution in the Detroit area. EPA and the state of Michigan jointly decided on this approach to further improve air quality and address SO2 emissions in Wayne County. EPA will consider public comments before finalizing the plan and will hold a virtual public hearing on June 16.
“EPA’s proposed plan, which we have developed in close coordination with the state of Michigan, will reduce sulfur dioxide pollution in Detroit,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “This means everyone in the area will breathe cleaner, healthier air, which is especially helpful for vulnerable populations and overburdened communities. While this plan is an important step forward for addressing sulfur dioxide air pollution, it is not the end of our work on air pollution in Detroit. Michigan and EPA are actively working on reducing other pollutants in the area.”
“EGLE greatly appreciates its partnership with EPA. These past few years of coordinated efforts have produced meaningful reductions in SO2 levels in a community that for too long has borne the unnecessary burden of this pollutant,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. “We are pleased that our air quality monitors are showing the positive impacts of this hard work and that citizens can begin to see the benefits of the air quality that they deserve.”
Among other elements, the federal plan proposes limits on U.S. Steel’s emissions to ensure that SO2 concentrations in Wayne County permanently meet the health-based federal air quality standard. SO2 concentrations in most parts of Detroit now meet the federal standard thanks to emissions reductions. In recent years, EPA air modeling has shown potential SO2 problems near Zug Island, an industrial area where U.S. Steel and another industrial source are located.
In 2017, Michigan requested EPA’s assistance when U.S. Steel declined to voluntarily install additional pollutant controls, and a state court blocked a state rule to reduce emissions. Since then, EPA and Michigan have worked in partnership to reduce emissions from power plants, steel mills and other industrial facilities in the area. Emissions from DTE Trenton Channel coal-fired power plant and Carmeuse Lime facility have been reduced, and DTE Energy River Rouge coal-fired power plant has shut down.
EPA will hold a virtual public hearing regarding this proposed Federal Implementation Plan from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time June 16. For more information about how to attend, please go to EPA’s web page.
Due to the combined efforts of EPA, EGLE, and the community, the Detroit area has seen a reduction in SO2 emissions of greater than 70% since the area was designated as nonattainment for the standard in 2013, which required steps to attain and maintain the standards by reducing air pollutant emissions. The National Ambient Air Quality Standard for SO2, which was set in 2010, is 75 parts per billion. The monitored values in the area continue to show improvement and are currently below 44 parts per billion.
Reduced SO2 in the atmosphere means cleaner, healthier air for the residents of Detroit, especially children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma. Reduced levels of SO2 and other sulfur oxides are also beneficial for the environment. A decrease in these compounds means less haze and acid rain, which can harm sensitive ecosystems. This action is in line with EPA’s agency-wide commitment to advance environmental justice and deliver benefits to underserved and overburdened communities.
Today’s action is another step toward identifying and addressing air quality issues in communities across Southeast Michigan. EPA has been working closely with EGLE on a number of air quality issues related to smog (ground level ozone), citizen complaints at individual facilities and challenges associated with guaranteeing environmental justice for all residents in Southeast Michigan, in addition to reducing SO2 pollution in Southeast Michigan.
For more information about NAAQS.
For information about air quality in your area
For information about air quality trends.
To provide a public comment or attend the virtual public hearing, please go to this EPA web page.