From a concerned citizen regarding a matter of public policy:
On February 19, 2004 there was a Public Hearing before
the City of Manistee Planning Commission concerning the proposed Northern
Lights Project - a 425 megawatt coal-fired electrical generating plant that the
Tondu Corporation of Houston, Texas seeks to build in our town of 6,000 people
– at the mouth of the Manistee River and between the shores of Lake
Michigan and the Manistee National Forest.
Before this project can proceed, the Tondu Corporation must obtain a
Special Use Permit from the City of
There were over 500 people who attended the Public Hearing, and there were so many people who signed up to speak that the Public Hearing was extended to this Thursday, February 26th at in the Manistee Middle School Gymnasium. Some of the people who spoke out against the Northern Lights Project included representatives from:
· Manistee County Democratic Party
· Traverse Group of the Sierra Club
· Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
· Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal government
Grand Traverse Band of
And the list grows.
During the three hour public hearing, there were only three people who spoke in favor of the proposed coal plant: Joe Tondu, the owner/developer; Tom Kubanek, Director of the Manistee Industrial Development Corporation; and Lydia Murray, Account Manager for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and representative for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth.
During Lydia Murray’s remarks, she cited that she was specifically asked by David Hollister and the Granholm Administration to attend this public hearing and speak in favor of the project.
It appears that someone in the Granholm Administration does not give much credence to the seriousness of the action that took place at this public hearing. If the Governor was not aware that a spokesperson, Lydia Murray, was doing what she did, then the Governor needs to say something now. It seems inconceivable that a governor would weigh in on a local issue at this point. It may actually be without precedent. The region is quite upset, to put it mildly. If the Governor’s advisors are not reading the newspapers up and down this coast and the Traverse magazine, they need to be doing so. I can tell you that the opposition to this plant has now been contacted by the UPI, AP and CNN.
Regionally there are talks of organizing bus trips to
The interference in local politics is newsworthy enough, but when you analyze the speech of Lydia Murray it has sentence structure and vocabulary, facts and data that appear to be lifted right out of Tondu Corporation public statements. The people in this area in opposition to this plant are bright, research oriented Democrats who are not going to let this one alone. And, Republicans have now joined the effort, which is going to force the hand of their representatives in this area. This situation is even more newsworthy because the developer of the project, Joe Tondu, who now has presumably been supported by the Governor’s office, sits on the Governor’s advisory panel on mercury emission controls.
More newsworthy is that the Governor has said she
wants to move to zero mercury emissions by 2020, yet the proposed plant is to
be built on
There are serious questions being asked around here. Questions include:
· When did the Governor’s office and Hollister’s office know of this proposal?
How can the Governor sacrifice the
people of northwest
· Why didn’t the Governor send a representative to talk with the people of before making a public statement in support of the Tondu Corporation?
· Why didn’t the Governor take more seriously the resolution of opposition from the Manistee Democratic Party?
· Have there been any campaign contributions from a PAC that is supported by the Tondu Corporation, its principals or family members?
· Have there been any direct campaign contributions from the Tondu Corporation, their principals or family members?
· Was this project discussed in the Governor’s advisory committee on mercury emissions?
This issue is not going to go away.
The headline is: “Mercury: Tighter Rules Can and Should Go Further.” The article goes on to discuss EPA scientist’s findings that probably one in six women of child-bearing age have enough mercury in their systems to affect the offspring – rather than previous estimates of one in twelve. It goes on to urge the EPA to toughen its rules based on its own research. Once again it states the obvious: “The biggest remaining output of mercury comes from coal-burning power plants.”
The Governor is rapidly slipping into heavy scrutiny
unless a statement is forthcoming. This
reminds me of the last song by the Beatles on the
“Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl but she doesn’t have a lot to say,
Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl but she changes from day to day…”