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Enviro-Mich message from "Rob Perks"<rperks@PEER.ORG>

For Immediate Release: December 1, 1998     Contact: Rob Perks (202) 265-7337


Washington, D.C. ...Today, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
Director Russell Harding is presenting an environmental award to a company
identified as one of the state?s biggest polluters, according to Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  In a ceremony today, DEQ is
naming the Wisconsin Electric Power Company?s  Presque Isle Power Plant in
Marquette as a ?Clean Corporate Citizen.?

According to state figures, the Presque Isle Power Plant ? 

> emits more than 17,000 tons of nitrous oxide annually, making it the 4th 
largest single emitter of N0x in the entire state.  This air pollutant, one of
the main constituents of smog and responsible for the reddish-brown haze over
Marquette, is known to cause severe respiratory health effects;

> releases more than 16,000 tons of sulfur dioxide every year, making it the 7th
 largest single emitter of SO2 statewide.  The main air pollutant component of
acid rain, SO2 compounds cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and is especially
harmful to asthmatics, children and the elderly;  

> ranks as one of the state?s greatest single sources of particulate matter,
emitting hundreds of tons of it into the atmosphere.  The smallest and lightest
of these particles (PM10s) cause severe, long-term respiratory problems when
inhaled.  Scientists believe that particulate emissions in combination with SO2
emissions have increased toxic effects on human health; and

>is Michigan?s 7th largest emitter of carbon monoxide (509 tons per year).  High
CO levels occur during winter months and whenever prolonged periods of
atmospheric inversion layers develop, trapping emissions near ground level.    

?If this plant deserves a Clean Corporate Citizen award, then Hulk Hogan
deserves to be the next President of the United States,? commented Rob Perks,
PEER?s National Field Director.  ?This award does not reward the company for
past performance, nor does it guarantee future improvement but it does confer
upon Presque Isle numerous permitting waivers and exemptions from environmental
DEQ?s presentation of the ?Clean Corporate Citizen? award to this facility is
not predicated on any achieved reduction in pollution, nor does it involve any
legally binding agreement that Wisconsin Electric will reduce air pollutants
emanating from its Presque Isle power plant.  According to the DEQ criteria for
?winning? the C3 award, it must be found that a company has not recently:
(emphasis added).

    * been convicted of a felony;
    * been assessed a court fine of $10,000 or more;
    * been responsible for ?substantial? environmental or public health
* been found by the Director to be in substantial violation of a local
environmental requirement; and
    * had any unresolved notices of violation, or is at least adhering to a
binding schedule
        for correcting them, at the time of application submittal.

DEQ employees indicated t o PEER that there are several other environmental
problems associated with the Presque Isle Power Plant.  One of the most
well-known is the facility?s old fly-ash dump which has polluted the groundwater
with heavy metals.  DEQ?s Waste Management Division has been trying for years to
get the company into some kind of ?Consent Decree? to monitor the groundwater
contamination, but as yet the problem has not been corrected.

PEER noted that DEQ?s recognition of  Presque Isle Power Plant overshadows the
environmental record of other more deserving facilities, such as Marquette?s own
Municipal Power Plant which is one of the cleanest in the Great Lakes region. 
?Rather than heap undeserved praise and benefits on  Presque Isle Power Plant,
the DEQ should encourage the company to emulate the actions of the residents of
Marquette, who have made an investment of public funds to construct and operate
a far more environmentally-friendly power facility,? added Perks.  


For more information about the types and amounts of pollutants emitted by the
Presque Isle Power Plant, visit the DEQ Air Quality Division?s website
<www.deq.state.mi.us/aqd/>.  Select the ?Database Queries? function on the left
side of the AQD homepage to access the most recent annual emissions inventory
for facilities throughout the state.  The Presque Isle Power Plant?s state
registration number is B4261.

PEER is a national alliance of state and federal employees in
pollution control, land management and wildlife protection agencies
working to insure environmental ethics and government accountability.  

PEER is working with DEQ public employees to document and expose environmental
mismanagement in Michigan.  PEER?s ?See No Evil? white paper provided an insider
account of the department?s lax enforcement of wetlands regulations.  PEER also
recently surveyed DEQ employees on a variety of internal issues affecting
resource protection.     

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