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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

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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