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New Marathon permits reduce sulfur emissions

The Marathon oil refinery in southwest Detroit had a small fire this morning.
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The Marathon oil refinery in southwest Detroit had a small fire this morning.

Detroit’s Marathon refinery will have to cut emissions, under new permits issued this week by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Marathon needs to meet new federal requirements for low-sulfur gasoline.

Because it needed to remove that sulfur, Marathon initially asked to increase its sulfur dioxide emissions, in a heavily-industrial area already considered the state’s most polluted ZIP code.

But after a fierce public backlash, Marathon and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found ways for the company to actually reduce those emissions.

“They heard what the citizens had to say, and they worked with us to further reduce emissions at the facility,” said Lynn Fiedler, head of the MDEQ’s air quality division.

Fiedler says these were offered as voluntary measures, but “we have made them part of the permit. So they are enforceable, and things that we will be doing inspections on, and they will be required to monitor and do reports on.”

Fiedler says those new limits cut Marathon’s yearly allowed sulfur dioxide emissions by almost 18%.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan calls that “very good news for the families who live near this refinery.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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