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E-M:/ Groups Issue 'Cheney Challenge'

Enviro-Mich message from "Daniel Farough" <daniel.farough@sierraclub.org>

League of Conservation Voters   ¨   Sierra Club
Michigan Environmental Council   ¨   Clean Water Action
Public Interest Research Group in Michigan

For Immediate Release:			Contact: Dan Farough, (517) 484-2372
June 15, 2001

Groups Issue ‘Cheney Challenge’:
Vice President Urged to Examine Impacts of Energy Plan
during his Michigan Visit

LANSING – Environmental groups gathered at the Eckert coal-fired power plant
in Lansing today to issue a challenge to Vice President Dick Cheney – Come
find out about the harm the Bush Energy Plan will do to Michigan.   The
‘Cheney Challenge’ comes in anticipation of the Vice President’s trip to
Michigan on Monday, June 18th, to fundraise for Rep. Mike Rogers and plug
for the Bush Energy Plan.  “While he is here, we challenge the
Vice-President to take time to learn about the harmful pollution from
coal-fired power plants in Michigan, which would be big winners under the
Bush energy plan,” said Lisa Wozniak, Great Lakes Regional Director of the
League of Conservation Voters.  The groups provided a list of the 22 largest
coal-fired power plants in Michigan as suggestions for Cheney to visit.
Approximately 80% of Michigan’s energy comes from coal, which releases
mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide pollution into
the air.

The groups contend that the Bush energy plan’s call for increasing coal,
nuclear, and domestic oil production with little solid backing for renewable
energy and efficiency measures, puts Michigan’s environment, Great Lakes and
public health at risk.  “Relaxing clean air standards and public health
protections to build more dirty coal plants and dangerous nuclear plants is
the wrong strategy for a sustainable and safe energy future for Michigan,”
said Alison Horton, Sierra Club’s Midwest staff director.  “Such a strategy
means more mercury pollution in our Great Lakes, more asthma, more pressure
to drill our fragile shorelines, and more nuclear waste.”

According to the Environmental Working Group, if the Bush energy plan
increases nationwide electricity production from coal-fired power plants by
25% instead of the projected 6% more than 350,000 pounds of additional
mercury could be released into the environment over 20 years.  If
concentrated, that’s enough to pollute the Great Lakes basin seven times
over according to data from the National Wildlife Federation.  “Coal-fired
power plants are already the leading source of mercury pollution in the
Great Lakes,


forcing health departments to place Fish Consumption Advisories on every
lake in
Michigan,” said Isaac Elnecave of the Michigan Environmental Council.  “Its
simple, burning more coal means more mercury contamination, more fish
advisories, and more public health risks for people.”

Coal-fired power plants release particulate pollution which can trigger
asthma attacks and
increase the risk of death from cardiopulmonary heart disease and lung
cancer.  A
Preliminary study of school children in North Dakota living near coal-fired
power plants indicated that the average incidence of asthma was seven times
greater than the 1995 national average.  Harvard researchers found a 37%
higher risk of death from cardiopulmonary disease and a 37% higher risk of
death from lung cancer in cities with the most particulate pollution as
compared with the least polluted cities.

The Bush energy plan places a premium on increased production of oil and
gas, even if it means drilling in sensitive areas like the Great Lakes and
despite statistics that demonstrate that increased domestic oil production
would only decrease our reliance on foreign oil by 1-2%.  Indeed the recent
battles over slant drilling the Great Lakes can only be fully understood in
the context of the Bush-Cheney push for drilling.  “The risks of drilling
the Great Lakes come from oil spills on our shores, coastal development in
fragile areas, and contamination of drinking water,” said Bethany Renfer,
Program Coordinator for Clean Water Action.  “All for a very, very small
amount of oil and natural gas.  The people I'm talking with night after
night are stunned by the
Bush/Cheney energy plan.  They're fed up with energy sources that pollute
Michigan's waters and make consuming the fish dangerous."

“Instead of putting increased pressure on the Great Lakes and our public
health to reward the energy industry, we need a balanced approach which
makes serious investments in alternatives and efficiency,” said Brian Imus,
representing the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan.  The building
blocks of a balanced energy plan include: investing in energy efficiency;
developing cleaner, renewable energy sources including wind and solar;
replacing old, inefficient, dirty power plants with new, efficient, combined
cycle gas plants; uncapping and increasing production from existing oil and
gas fields using improved technology.

In addition to challenging Cheney to visit dirty coal-fired power plants on
his visit to Michigan, the groups provided alternatives for cleaner, safer,
cheaper energy in Michigan and background materials on the right energy
choices for our health, the Great Lakes, Michigan and for the future.  More
information is available from: Sierra Club, Lansing, (517) 484-2372; MEC,
Lansing, (517) 487-9539; PIRGIM, Ann Arbor, (734) 662-6597; LCV, Ann Arbor,
(734) 327-7154; Clean Water Action (517) 203-0754.


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