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E-M:/ The Toll From Coal

Enviro-Mich message from "TONY DEFALCO" <DEFALCO@nwf.org>

For Immediate Release: 
April 12, 2000		           

Julie Metty, 734/769-3351, ext. 16, metty@nwf.org or
Dana Debel, 517/ 346-6452, muccpolicy@mucc.org 

Pollution from Michigan's Coal-Burning Power Plants Looms Large as Toll on People and Wildlife Continues to Climb

Ann Arbor, MI - A new report suggests that some of the nation's most popular fish and game species are suffering from a variety of air pollutants, which are all emitted from one source: coal-fired power plants.  The Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) today released The Toll from Coal, a report identifying pollution from power plants in eleven states, including Michigan, as making the greatest contribution to broad-scale environmental problems, including acid rain, mercury and nitrogen deposition, ozone pollution, and global climate change.  The study also found that these serious effects could be dramatically impacting some popular fish and game species populations.

"Hunters and anglers around the state should be extremely concerned that our outdoor recreation opportunities have been diminished due to unnecessary power plant pollution," said James Goodheart, MUCC's Executive Director.  "Since 1988, the Michigan Department of Public Health has issued fish consumption advisories for all of Michigan's 11,000 inland lakes as a result of mercury pollution, of which power plants are the largest source." 

The Toll from Coal highlights nine North American wildlife species and one ecosystem that are vulnerable to power plant pollution because they are affected by a range of problems linked to that single source.  The unranked listing features:

American Black Duck 		Jefferson Salamander
Brook Trout			Kirtland's Warbler
Common Loon 			River Otter
Coral Reefs			Smallmouth Bass
Florida Panther 			Sugar Maple

"This report summarizes evidence indicating Michigan's fish, wildlife and habitat are at risk from power plant emissions, including the endangered Kirtland's Warbler, the Northwood's icon the Common loon, and our legendary jack pine forests," said Dr. Michael Murray, Staff Scientist for NWF's Great Lakes office.  "We need to adopt some common-sense changes in electric generation to ensure the future health of fish and wildlife populations."
"Despite the availability of cleaner energy sources, more than 80% of Michigan's power still comes from coal-burning power plants," stated Julie Metty, Water Quality Organizer for NWF's Great Lakes office.  "The amounts of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury they emit are huge contributors to serious environmental problems facing these and other species, both here in Michigan and around the globe."  

These utilities often use antiquated technology and do not meet modern air and water pollution standards.  For example, coal-fired power plants are responsible for:

 more that 64 percent of Michigan's sulfur dioxide and 22 percent of its nitrogen oxides emissions, which contribute to the acid rain, smog, and nitrogen pollution that damages forest and aquatic ecosystems; 

 more than 41 percent of mercury emissions in Michigan, much of which ends up in our waters to poison wildlife throughout the food chain and imperil human health; an additional 38% comes from waste-to-energy power plants

 more than 31 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide, the gas chiefly responsible for the global warming that threatens wildlife, entire ecosystems, and human communities around the world.

The report shows that Michigan is ranked ninth out of all 50 states for pollution contributions from coal-fired power plants. Other Midwest states in the top ten were Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

"The good news is the Michigan Senate is moving in the right direction through SB 937 a utility restructuring bill, that provides some environmental provisions," stated Dana Debel, Energy Policy Specialist for MUCC. "However, the bill still does nothing to ensure the State will move away from its overwhelming dependence on coal, to other cleaner forms of energy production such as natural gas and renewables."

The report features a series of recommendations for reducing the toll from coal, including closing the loophole in the Clean Air Act that allows older power plants to emit significantly more pollution than newer, more efficient ones; toughening restrictions on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants that affect regions with the greatest amount of environmental damage; creating meaningful mercury and carbon dioxide emissions caps; promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy resources; and making environmental protection part of utility restructuring.

The National Wildlife Federation's report, The Toll from Coal, is available on the web at www.nwf.org.

The nation's largest member-supported conservation advocacy and education group, the National Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of life to protect nature, wildlife, and the world we all share.  The Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the largest nonprofit statewide conservation organization in the United States, is devoted to the protection and enhancement of Michigan's natural resources through education and the promotion of quality outdoor recreation. 


Julie C. Metty,  Water Quality Project Organizer
National Wildlife Federation
506 East Liberty St., 2nd Floor
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
p: 734-769-3351 * f: 734-769-1449 * e: metty@nwf.org 

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