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Elevating Equity with Cumulative Impact Policies in Michigan

Published on February 20, 2024

A new video series uplifts community leaders calling for better processes to protect human health and the environment

“When Michigan’s regulators monitor pollution right now, they look at industries separately. They monitor pollution from Ford separately from the steel mill, separately from the slag company,” said Samra’a Luqman, Concerned Residents for South Dearborn, in the From Air Pollution to Solutions video series. “But that’s not how our families experience it. We get exposed to all the stuff, all together, all at once. And that’s how regulators should measure the harm that is being done to us.” 

In a new video series uplifting impacted community members' voices, Samra’a calls on elected officials to implement a cumulative impact policy, a proposed regulatory shift to better protect the health of people living in communities overburdened by pollution. The policy, which can be implemented on the municipal or state level, requires environmental regulators to assess all sources of pollution, as well as factors that make a community more vulnerable to pollution, when determining pollution impact or siting a new facility. These policies can help prevent additional pollution burdens from harming a community and reverse the disproportionate impacts of legacy pollution on disadvantaged communities. 

Recent studies have shown Black Americans are exposed to more pollution from every type of source, including industry, agriculture, and transportation, than white Americans. Detroiters and other southeast Michiganders suffer more from poor air quality and higher rates of asthma than other Michigan communities. Residents are exposed to elevated levels of pollutants from many sources, including a wide range of industrial facilities and vehicular traffic.

In response, for more than a decade, environmental justice leaders in Michigan have been advocating for cumulative impact policies to halt the harm. The Ecology Center supports these efforts and our partner organizations who lead the charge on these vital policies.  

Hear community voices on the proposed policies by viewing the series

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Community Voices on Cumulative Impact Policies
Produced by Clear the Air, a coalition of organizations working for clean air in Detroit and Wayne County. Rooted in the conviction that breathing healthy air is a basic human right, Clear the Air partners are working together to advance policies that protect that right.