Dow Chemical given the green light to continue polluting in Michigan

If you read the local papers, you probably saw the awesome news yesterday that Dow Chemical had joined with state and federal funding agencies to launch a $130 million investment fund for Michigan companies. What you probably didn’t read about, however, is the fact that Dow was just given tacit approval by the courts to continue polluting in Michigan. The following clip comes from Politicus USA:

…Within the past month, the ability of individuals to band together to take on powerful corporations was dealt a crushing blow when the conservative Supreme Court disallowed class action status to millions of women who suffered pay discrimination at the hands of retail giant Wal-Mart. It is bad enough that the High Court deprived the women an opportunity to plead their case before the court, but the real damage was the precedent that disallows individuals from joining forces to fight corporate injustice and damaging business practices. Within the past week, that precedent was cited by a Michigan judge who was set to hear a case between a hundred land owners and corporate giant Dow Chemical.

The Michigan case involved landowners who complained that the chemical giant spread dioxin, a highly toxic and cancer-causing byproduct of chemical manufacturing process through the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and into Lake Huron. When rivers downstream flooded, sediment laden with dioxin was deposited on properties in the floodplain. Soil samples of floodplain properties revealed dioxin contamination thousands of times higher than Michigan allows and prompted health officials to warn property owners to wear masks while mowing their lawns, keep children from playing in dirt near their homes, avoid eating fish and livestock raised in the floodplain, and to take other precautions to keep from being poisoned. The land owners say property values are diminished and they are not able to fully use their properties because of the contamination; not to mention the health damages they may have already been subjected to. The judge, Leopold Borello, had granted class status for the group but reversed his decision because, although the case met Michigan guidelines for class status, the Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart decision created new rules for what a group must have in common with one another in order to be considered a class.

The difference between the cases is that one was in federal court and should have no bearing on Michigan certifying a class action but the judge still acquiesced to the corporate giant’s demand. The entire issue does not bode well for future class actions in Michigan because the state Supreme Court is a conservative majority that tends to favor corporations over individuals. The case also shows the long-lasting damage the conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court continues to wreak on America. Republicans constantly decry the dangers of liberal activist judges legislating from the bench, but the current High Court has been making legislation for Republicans since last year’s Citizens United ruling allowing unlimited secret campaign funding…

More on Dow’s toxic history in Michigan can be found here.

Oh, and you might also be interested in reading about the Midland “cancer cluster”.

On the plus side, however, Dow’s second-quarter profit, it was announced yesterday, exceeded analysts’ estimates. The company’s net income rose to $1.07 billion…

Welcome to the corporatocracy that is America.

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  1. Edward
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    You can’t talk about a “job creator” like that!

  2. Posted July 28, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I was born in Midland.

    Once, I was told that I had small radiation burns in my eyes. Cancers run rampant throughout all members of my family that lived there for any extended amount of time.

  3. Mr. X
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Dow’s second-quarter profit “surged 73 percent”.

    You’d think that they could afford to do a little remediation. Surely their shareholders care about the people who live in the vicinity of the plant, right?

  4. Ricky
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Where and when is this shit going to end? Do we need a revolution in one form or another? Oops. I better be quiet. Big Brother may be lurking.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Start listening to this at the 5:30-mark.

  6. K2
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    From today’s NYT:

    With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation.

    One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation. Another would severely restrict the Department of Interior’s ability to police mountaintop-removal mining. And then there is the call to allow new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.

    There is little chance that all the 39 proposals identified by Democrats will be approved by the Senate, which they control, or that a substantial number could elude a presidential veto. In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill.

  7. TaterSalad
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    G.E. given the Green Light to move to China! Yes, G.E. is moving to China while G.E.’s CEO, Jeffrey Immilt, who is one of Barack Obama’s advisors on U.S. job creation gives the green light. Anyone here care to say the word….Hypocrite-in-Chief? Do you all still have your head up his you know what so far you can’t say the word?

  8. Posted July 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Taters, you need to start reading this site, instead of just throwing up your cut-and-paste comments. If you did, you might know that we agree, by and large, that it’s bad for US companies to be sending jobs abroad in search of cheap labor and less oversight. The solution, however, isn’t to slash pay and oversight here at home.

  9. Ed
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Dow Chemical faces a $2.5-million fine for conditions at its Midland plant, where inspectors found violations of air, water and waste regulations between 2005 and early 2007.

    The fine is part of a negotiated settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency, and it still is subject to public comment and final approval. The violations that EPA investigators found have been corrected.

    The violations included cracking and pitting of structures that keep hazardous materials out of the environment and failures in testing, monitoring, leak detection, recordkeeping and reporting under various environmental regulations.

    From today’s Freep.

  10. Posted July 31, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    There goes the EPA, killing jobs again.

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