To profit over people: Flint residents hold mock funerals to oppose proposed asphalt plant in Lansing
Residents of Flint, MI, held a mock funeral on the steps of the Michigan Capitol Building Wednesday afternoon to remember the death of southeastern Flint resident if Ajax Materials Corporation gets an air quality permit for 'asphalt plant' in the future.
About 20 protesters dressed in black made the hour-long journey from Flint to participate in the mock funeral procession, where two cardboard coffins, both full with copies of more than 4,000 petition signatures and stuffed with envelopes were walked to the offices of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Many Flint residents have long condemned the proposal for an asphalt factory, calling it environmental racism.
Protesters claim that if this asphalt plant is approved, it will mark the neighborhood's death.
The St. Francis Prayer Center, which is a few minutes from the proposed plant, Flint Rising; C.A.U.T.I.O.N.; Michigan United; and the Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint are among dozens of activists and community groups opposing the plant. Prior to this, Flint City Council approved a resolution to reject the air permit.
Bishop Bernadel Jefferson, a Flint resident, said the people of Flint have 'a right to clean air'. She said that an asphalt factory just a few feet from slums will only cause problems.
Where are the morals in that? asked the bishop.
Anthony Paciorek, a Michigan United activist, stated that this part of Flint already faces health threats, including cancer and asthma, as well as cancer. He doesnt want Whitmers Fix the Damn Roads pledge to be broken if a Flint community is sacrificed.
Tiara Darisaw, 17, said she had to miss school Wednesday to attend the protesting asphalt plant.
Darisaw suffers from asthma and believes the facility will only increase the number of Flint residents at risk.
I dont want any other children to have to go through anything like I did as a child with asthma, Darisaw said.
Lashaya Darisaw, a Michigan United volunteer, called on Governor Whitmer to address this environmental racism on the steps of the capitol.
Death of profit over people and rebirth of loving our community, Darisaw said. We didnt request for this asphalt plant.
Michigans Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is expected to either green-light or deny the air permit by Nov. 15.
EGLE had set a deadline of Thursday, Oct. 28 to make the decision, but announced the change in op-ed on Wednesday afternoon.
The proposed asphalt plant would technically be located off Energy Drive in Genesee Township, but is hidden away from the residents and is located on the border between the township and the north side of Flint.
EGLE said it has received hundreds of suggestions and concerns from the public about this facility.
Every one of these remarks is important. We consider every comment we receive whether it be through email, voicemail, or any other method, whether at one of the hearings or two. In a statement released by the agency, EGLE Air Quality Division Director Mary Ann Dolehanty said, "We take them all seriously." Our decision on the proposed permit will take all of this into account, she added.
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The State will need to review the permit for the proposed asphalt plant near Flint earlier this year.
Before the Genesee Township asphalt plant gets a permit, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends further study.
Residents of Flint are unhappy with a proposed asphalt plant near the citys border, despite concerns over the project.