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Huizenga, Walberg, Moolenaar: Lakeshore Economy, Jobs Jeopardized by Inaccurate EPA Decision

This week, Congressmen Bill Huizenga, Tim Walberg, and John Moolenaar sent a joint letter to the EPA regarding the agency’s decision on nonattainment areas impacting Allegan, Berrien, and Muskegon Counties. In the letter to EPA Administrator Regan, the Representatives voice their concern about increased regulation and the significant negative impact it will have on the local economy. This is particularly harmful given the strong indications that the actual source of the pollution is not in Allegan, Berrien, or Muskegon Counties, but industry heavy cities on the other side of Lake Michigan.

The Congressmen wrote, “The scope and burden of this heavy-handed regulation are not consistent with the reality on the ground in these Southwest Michigan counties. The EPA must recognize that given these counties’ locations, meteorological factors likely brought the pollutants into this region from more major industrial centers like Chicago, IL; Gary, IN; and Milwaukee, WI. Notably, contiguous counties such as Van Buren and Ottawa were not included in this EPA decision. Furthermore, the compliance costs associated with the CAA requirements will improperly impose devastating economic losses on our hardworking communities… While we understand the need for air quality standards, this decision impacting our communities is not appropriate.”

Additionally, Huizenga, Walberg, and Moolenaar asked several questions regarding how the EPA made this determination. Did the EPA take into consideration the possibility that ozone pollutants were carried from an out-of-state source? Did the EPA study the economic impact on Allegan, Berrien, and Muskegon Counties? Did the State of Michigan provide any evidence in support or against the EPA’s findings? And lastly, what recourse do communities have to challenge the findings?

Two local economic development organizations, Lakeshore Advantage and Cornerstone Alliance, joined the Congressmen in raising alarms over the negative impact this unjust regulatory increase will have on economic growth and jobs along the Lakeshore. 

“These proposed changes penalized Allegan County manufacturers for air quality outside of their control. Jet streams travel west to east and with the air quality monitoring station located near the lakeshore,” said Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage.  “It is unlikely that imposing costly standards will bring ozone levels into attainment. They will be costly for employers and will unnecessarily threaten the local economy.”

“The EPA’s reclassification of Berrien County’s air quality standard is unjust, and it will come at the cost of lost jobs for Michiganders,” said Rob Cleveland, President of Cornerstone Alliance. “Berrien County residents will suffer the consequences of actions from companies that are more than 100 miles away, and in completely different states.  It is our hope that reasonable leaders can come together and take action. The offending companies that are actually responsible for causing the problem are not located in West Michigan.”

The full text of the letter Huizenga, Walberg, and Moolenaar sent to the EPA  is available here.

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