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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Comments About EPA's Proposed Rules for Blast Furnaces End Today

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Thursday, September 14, 2023   

Emission standards for blast furnaces such as the iron and steel mills in Michigan haven't been updated in years.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule for iron and steel mills under the Clean Air Act and comments can be submitted through today.

Matthew Mehalik, executive director of the Breathe Project, a regional collaborative advocating against severe air-quality issues, said the communities are subjected to pollutants such as heavy metals, benzene and lead, so the public needs to speak up.

"It's time that companies that operate facilities where a major blast furnace as part of an integrated steel mill operates are progressing and innovating," Mehalik contended. "So that workers as well as people who live in proximity to them are not bearing the disproportionate burden of these hazardous air emissions."

The EPA is collecting comments through September 29th on the proposed rules for the Clean Air Act. Mehalik noted the Breathe Project can help people get in touch with local representatives and get the comments in effectively. They can be contacted at BreatheProject.org.

For states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois, well-paying industrial jobs are feared to be facing a shortage. Mehalik argued it is entirely possible to preserve them, and emphasized it is important for people to ask for reductions in fugitive emissions at such facilities.

"These are leaks at these blast furnaces and it's possible for the operators who have been making a handsome profit to invest in their facilities," Mehalik asserted. "It's also important to ask for stack emission reductions, it seems possible to reduce these up to 90%. That can be a big improvement in community health."

He added a third provision is for the EPA to require operators of blast furnaces to set up fence-line monitoring programs. It is standard practice at most refineries and chemical facilities throughout the country and would make data available to the public so they can see how well the facilities are reining in the emissions and reducing risks to the community.


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