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E-M:/ SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS



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Enviro-Mich message from James Clift <jamesmec@voyager.net>
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Michigan Environmental Council - Capitol Update

SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS SURVIVES
A CLOSE VOTE IN THE HOUSE

By a close vote the Michigan House of Representatives refused to
eliminate the special treatment for dirty, old, coal-fired power plants
in Michigan.  The vote came on an amendment supported by the Michigan
Environmental Council to HB 4651 regarding the reduction of greenhouse
gases in Michigan (12/1/99, RC#1066).  Details can be found at:
http://198.109.122.10/txt/house.journal/1999-2000/hj120199.082.html.

When Congress passed the Clean Air Act it included a provision that
exempts old coal-fired power plants from many of the pollution control
requirements.  Congress believed that those older plants would soon be
obsolete and thus, would soon be replaced by cleaner power plants.  This
has not occurred.  Because of this “grandfathering” loophole, coal-fired
power plants largely escape modern, state-of-the-art pollution control
requirements.

This amendment would have required all coal-fired power plants in the
state by 2005 to meet the standards required for new plants built after
1990.  These standards mirror those recently proposed by Governor Pataki
of New York to protect the residents of that state.

MEC believes it is time for utilities to enter the age of modern
pollution control technology.  The residents of Michigan are doing their
part by purchasing vehicles that have been required to become cleaner
and cleaner over time. Meanwhile, coal plants has been largely exempt
from the requirement to upgrade equipment.

In 1997, Michigan coal-fired facilities emitted 399,077 tons on sulfur
dioxide, which is 292,925 tons more than new coal plants would emit
generating the same amount of energy.   They also emitted 178,799 tons
of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 124,049 tons more than new facilities would
emit.  Coal-fired generating plants are also the single largest sources
of mercury emissions in the state, accounting for 40% of total mercury
emissions

NOx is one of the primary components of ground level ozone, the brown
haze seen across many of our major cities.  Ozone affects people with
asthma and other respiratory illnesses.  Sulfur dioxide is the primary
source of particulate pollution in the United States.  These small
particulates (roughly one-millionth of an inch in diameter) easily enter
the respiratory system and become lodged inside the lungs where they
damage lung tissue and sometimes result in cancer.  Acid rain develops
when NOx combines with sulfur dioxide.  Acid rain damages forests and
kills fish by increasing the acidity of lakes and streams.

The bill now goes to the Senate for further action.


For more information:
Contact: James Clift (517) 487-9539
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539


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