Corporatism, Rick Snyder — May 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

More evidence of cronyism in the Snyder administration, this time it’s “Pay to Pollute”


This is getting ridiculous

More revelations are emerging about apparent cronyism by the administration of Republican Governor Rick Snyder. This time it’s benefitting one of Detroit’s most egregious polluters, the Severstal Dearborn steel plant.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp., Gov. Rick Snyder’s business-promoting agency, worked for months behind the scenes with one of the state’s most flagrantly polluting businesses as the company lobbied the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for permission to release even higher levels of pollutants and avoid current air quality regulations, DEQ e-mails obtained by the Free Press show.

The Severstal Dearborn steel plant, one of Michigan’s worst air polluters, wants to “correct” its 2006 state emissions permit to allow the release of harmful pollutants at levels up to 725 times higher than the permit initially allowed.

Plant officials also want their request considered only under 2006 environmental regulations, meaning they would avoid current state and federal rules that would require greater protection of the surrounding neighborhood’s air quality — and cost the company millions. […]

DEQ officials went from calling the factory “the most egregious facility in the state” with a “total disregard … for the air quality requirements” in an August 2012 e-mail, to adopting Severstal’s lawyers’ arguments for avoiding modern pollution regulations almost verbatim about a year later.

All of this happened right around the same time Saikat Dey, CEO of Severstal International, gave $1,000 to Rick Snyder’s reelection campaign. It’s the only political donation on record for Dey.

Lon Johnson, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, points out that Gov. Snyder is putting his corporate benefactors above the interests of the rest of Michigan:

Once again, Rick Snyder has shown he is only interested in protecting corporations and wealthy special interests, even if it means threatening clean air and clean water for Michigan families. Special treatment for polluters is more proof that Rick Snyder is out of touch – and it’s not the Michigan way. Michigan needs leaders who will get tough on bad corporate actors who threaten our environment and our kids’ health.

These revelations, the result of a FOIA request by the Detroit Free Press are one more in a series of similar “pay to play” incidents with the Snyder administration, including one that benefited his own cousin, George Snyder. They are clear evidence that, if you’re doing business in the state, our governor is willing to bend the rules for you so long as you support his reelection campaign.

The MDP has created a new hotline for Michiganders to report waste, fraud, and abuse by the Snyder administration called The MDP’s Lon Johnson explains:

Tipline Michigan can’t turn corrupt officials into honest ones. But it will help promote clean, open, honest government that doesn’t allow public officials like the Governor to put their family members and political allies ahead of the best interest of the people of Michigan. These are important Michigan values worth fighting for and protecting.

It’s time our governor is held accountable for putting corporate interests above the health and safety of our residents and for creating an uneven playing field for those without corporate influence. If you know of other examples that should see the light of day, visit and shine a light on them.

[Snyder caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]