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E-M:/ consumers energy: come clean on air issue

Enviro-Mich message from davemec@sojourn.com (Dave Dempsey)


Consumers Energy Company has stuffed an insert into recent utility bills
sent to millions of Michigan customers which attack federal clean air
standards by saying they will cost citizens $1,000 a year and aren't
needed.  The insert tells customers to contact members of Congress in
oppostion to the standards.  Funded by customers themselves, this
propaganda is based on misrepresentations and outright falsehoods.

While trying to scare citizens into thinking they will have to pay huge
costs and change lifestyles, Consumers seeks to deflect attention from the
fact that it is in one of the region's dirtiest industries -- and it will
have to make the major reductions needed to comply with the standards.  It
also doesn't want citizens to know it can do so in a cost-effective way
through energy efficiency.

Here's what Consumers Energy Company isn't telling you about the new Clean
Air Act standards:

        *  Utilities like Consumers Energy emit 66% of all sulfur dioxide,
36% of all carbon dioxide, and 29% of all nitrogen oxide emissions in the
U.S.  In 1995, Consumers Energy dumped 48,965 tons of nitrogen oxide,
96,902 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 18 MILLION tons of carbon dioxide into
the air.  The new EPA standards for soot and smog appropriately make
utilities a chief target.

        *  There is plenty of scientific backup for the new standards.
EPA's science board agreed that a new more protective ozone (smog) standard
was needed and that there was adequate science to support the new standard.
EPA's science board agreed on a 19-2 vote that EPA should set a new
standard to limit soot.

        *  Consumers Energy is lying about the cost of the new standards to
the average household.  It claims the standards will mean a "loss of
federal highway funds," for example.  This assumes the state can't comply
with the new standards, because the Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority
to block highway funds in noncomplying states.  EPA has never taken away
highway funds from states that fail to comply.  It is also lying about
controls on household products and "reduced state jobs."   Michigan will be
given flexibility to choose how to meet the new standards -- and utility
cleanup can bring us into compliance.

        *  Michigan citizens will save money from the new standards in two
ways. First, they will reap health benefits from reduced health care costs
and environmental damage. Nationally, those savings are estimated at
between $84 and $144 billion -- far greater than pollution control costs of
$7.9 to $10.2 billion. Second, if utilities implement energy efficiency
programs, they can lower customer bills.

        *  The new standards will save lives.  About 15,000 deaths a year
from will be prevented by the soot standards and the ozone standard will
result in 1,000,000 fewer incidences of decreased lung function each year,
including reduced asthma attacks.

        *   There will be plenty of time to adjust to the new requirements.
The new standards don't require final compliance, even by dirty industries
like Consumers Energy, until the year 2012.  Can't Consumers Energy clean
up its act in 15 years?

        *  Consumers Energy has always had to be dragged kicking and
screaming into air pollution cleanup.  The company boasts that "Michigan's
air quality has improved dramatically, thanks in part to hundreds of
millions of dollars Consumers Energy and many other businesses have spent
on pollution controls."  They don't tell you that they spent the money
after opposing the laws which forced them to contribute their share to the
country's environmental cleanup.

        *  Consumers Energy itself demonstrated that energy efficiency can
lower emissions and customer energy bills.  Its 1993-94 "Reduce the Use"
program, which was forced on it by the Public Service Commission, helped
customers achieve energy efficiency by overhauling lighting systems and
industrial motors, and providing rebates for residential customers
purchasing energy efficient appliances.  Although small, this program
reduced 1,680 tons of particulate pollution and cost far less than the
electricity generated by a new facility.  Further, Michigan polls show
92.8% of Michigan residents believe their utility company should offer
efficiency programs.

        Consumers Energy would rather go on polluting and building new,
dirty power plants than help Michigan businesses become more efficient and
competitive, and serving its residential customers' demand for efficiency.
Its outrageous lies and distortions should not be accepted.  It's time for
Michigan citizens to call for utility cleanup -- of pollution and false
claims meant to mislead.

        Write letters to the editor -- write the Public Service Commission
to protest this misuse of your money -- and tell your member of Congress
you want clean air.

Dave Dempsey
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
(517) 487-9539
(517) 487-9541 (fax)

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