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Michigan business group praises new federal rules on soot pollution

Marcin Jozwiak

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently strengthened its soot air quality standard by lowering the allowable particulate matter from 12 micrograms per meter to 9 micrograms per meter.

The Great Lakes Business Network — a 210-plus-member group of regional businesses — said many of its members were happy with the ruling.

"Today business leaders celebrate the positive impact the new annual soot pollution standard will have on people across the Great Lakes region. For too long, soot pollution has harmed vulnerable communities and accelerated the climate crisis. GLBN members continue to push for additional safeguards that will cut pollution and mitigate climate change," the group said in a statement.

Fine particulate matter — or soot — forms when fossil fuels are burned at power plants and other industrial facilities, according to the EPA. Soot can negatively affect human health.

Dominique Browning is the director and co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force.

"Particle pollution is a killer. In the United States alone, it cuts thousands of lives short, taking a staggering toll. Children’s bodies are uniquely vulnerable to the harms of soot pollution," said Browning in an EPA press release.

A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that short- and long-term exposure to fine particulate matter can cause issues ranging from asthma attacks and heart attacks to premature death.

Forrest Cohn is the President of Utopian Power, an Ann Arbor-based business focused on providing clients renewable energy options. He said that the new standard shows the nation is headed in the right direction as far as soot pollution, and that the ruling is good for the Great Lakes region.

"Protecting clean air and water is an obvious choice. Within the Great Lakes region we have a vast amount of the world's freshwater and the nation's freshwater, and if we cannot stand up and protect that then you know, I don't think that we're putting forward a very good example," said Cohn.

Other business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said air quality is already improving, and the new rule will jam up the permitting process for industrial projects and hurt the economy overall.

Beth Weiler is a Newsroom intern covering the environment for Michigan Radio.