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NN14 Attendees and others....let me take you back to year 1983 in Detroit and Wayne County in a photo diary about air pollution.   Note that most photos are B/W reproduction.

Mostly I'm doing this here to again remind Democrats that they are 100% owners of the environmental protection traditions and accomplishments of Senator Edmund Muskie, who was Democrat's "FDR" on the environment as a party historical, leadership, stewardship and governance icon.    Ownership means being responsible for defense of the Clean Air Act and it also means taking credit for past accomplishments on environmental cleanup, including reduction of community air pollution.

While the 1983 pictures show some heavy air pollution, it is important to understand that the amount of air pollution emitted in Detroit and Wayne County in 1983 was very significantly reduced over a far, far worse situation when the Federal Clean Air Act was first adopted in 1970.  

Back in 1970, in Wayne County, the entire sky in downriver/Dearborn area would appear rust-colored from heavy uncontrolled particulate emissions from steel plants on Zug Island and in Dearborn.  In 1970, air pollution in Wayne County was a extreme, severe problem much, much worse than anything shown or reflected in the 1983 pictures below.


The first group of photos was taken from this vantage point .....yep, I was out on the external roof of the central tower of the Renaissance Center.   The management there graciously allowed my American Lung Association air pollution photography.

Back in 1983, both particulate matter and nitrogen oxides would contribute to a heavy regional visible haze layer over the entire metropolitan Detroit area during stable atmospheres (clear sky, light winds, few clouds) which is shown in this view north from the RenCen:
 photo 2014_07_17_14_53_56.jpg

The haze layer looks even more distinct and defined in this view to the Southwest downriver:

 photo 2014_07_17_15_07_04.jpg

However, this view to the south shows another aspect of problems back in 1983 with a significant transboundary air pollution transport problem with Ontario getting heavy exposure from downriver Wayne County air pollution sources.

 photo 2014_07_17_15_18_14.jpg

This was taken with a telephoto lens from the west shoulder of Southbound I-75 on the River Rouge bridge and shows coke storage, coke oven batteries and the Rouge complex powerhouse in the foreground and steel furnace equipment further back.   Both the coke oven battery and the powerhouse ceased operation years ago, but this site is about 3 blocks from Salina Elementary School in Dearborn.

 photo 2014_07_16_22_53_39.jpg

These photos were taken from out on the Ambassador bridge where I walked out to the near middle to set up a tripod with my camera and 300 mm zoom telephoto lens.   This view mostly shows National Steel on Zug Island (now U.S. Steel), Detroit coke and also shows the City of Detroit Mistersky power plant.

 photo 2014_07_17_15_34_04.jpg

Here is another view of National Steel on Zug Island, and on the left is Detroit Edison's River Rouge Power plant.

 photo 2014_07_17_15_39_28.jpg

Here are two views of National Steel on Zug Island taken from a closer vantage point:

 photo 2014_07_17_15_46_24.jpg

 photo 2014_07_17_15_46_33.jpg

This last view of Zug Island was taken from Ontario across the Detroit River in 1987:

 photo natsteel1.jpg

Here is a view of the Detroit Incinerator about 1986, before getting into an air pollution control wrestling match with Mayor Coleman Young that eventually led to replacement and extensive revision of all of the air pollution control equipment on what was then a newly constructed plant without best available control technology being installed.   The Detroit Incinerator is located less than a half mile east of the
Detroit Art Institute [go see the Diego Rivera Room at the DAI while you're here]:

 photo 2014_07_17_16_00_12.jpg

My final photo is not an air pollution photo and it isn't from 1983, but from 2009.   This is a water quality photo showing extensive turbidity from rivers entering the Lake St. Clair/Detroit River/Lake Erie system....which mostly arises from Michigan, Ohio and Ontario agricultural operations:

NASA Imagery - Michigan-Ontario photo LkStClairWestLakeErie03152009.jpg

2:43 PM PT: In the time since 1983, there has been tremendous improvement in Southeastern Michigan air quality.   The region is considered in attainment with National Ambient Air Quality standards for  PM-10, PM-2.5, 24 hour sulfur dioxide and ozone.   There are some nonattainment problems likely with the newer 1 hour sulfur dioxide national ambient air quality standard, including a small designated part of Wayne County.   Other areas are also probably having unmonitored but modeled 1 hr sulfur dioxide problems.

3:09 PM PT: Important and pertinent websites:

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)

near-realtime air monitoring network:

MDEQ Air Quality Division, Air Monitoring Unit:

EPA AirData website

EPA Technology Transfer Network

EPA Compliance and Enforcement Online:

EPA's AirNow site:

Originally posted to LakeSuperior on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 01:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Motor City Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Credit where credit is due. The EPA was created (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdirondackForeverWild, kurt

    under Nixon after all.  There was a time when it was possible to be at least somewhat pro-environment and be a Republican.

    •  For at least the last decade there have been no (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dougymi, Sylv, kurt

      republican elected officials who were leaders or champions of public trust values and the Clean Air Act....none.   Yes, it wasn't always like that.  In the 70's and 80's there was Senators Howard Baker and Robert Starfford, but there has not been any positive public trust leadership on public trust defense of the Clean Air Act for decades.   There were still some republicans on board for the 1990 amendments, but really nothing since then that I'm aware of.

      All of the efforts by republicans for at least the last decade or more have been to trash, degrade and attempt to geld the Clean Air Act in Congress, and trash the environment, public health and public trust in air resources in the process.

      As a result of these circumstances, republicans and the republican party deserve zero credit for anything beneficial to the Clean Air Act presently as there is no basis and no evidence that the party and its elected officials have any interest in public trust regulation of air pollution specifically and the Clean Air Act generally.

  •  News Flash.....Detroit Bulk Storage, the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    entity to trans-ship petroleum coke on the Detroit River, just got their permit denied today on a current air pollution issue.....


    MDEQ announced today that the air quality permit for
    Detroit Bulk Storage, the petroleum coke storage and
    transhipment operation planned for River Rouge, was
    denied by Acting MDEQ Air Quality Division Chief Lynn Fiedler after the public comment and hearing that had been held:

    •  I should point out that Congressman Gary Peters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (and U.S. Senate candidate) was active and visible on the matter of the previous facility that Detroit Bulk Storage operated near the Ambassador Bridge in supporting the air quality concerns of local residents with that facility.

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