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E-M:/ Release: Rally to Reduce Mercury from Michigan's Power Plants

For Immediate Release                                                                Contact: Kate Madigan, PIRGIM

Event: Saturday, August 7                                                                 517-664-2600, cell: 323-251-2927

Rally begins at 11AM                                                                       Emma White, Clean Water Action

Press Conference at 11:45AM                                                          248-399-1062

                                                                                                       Melissa Damaschke, Sierra Club



Doctors, Mothers, Environmentalists Gather to Oppose Bush Administration Mercury Plan

Call on Governor Granholm to Take Immediate Action For Michigan


Royal Oak, MI—Gathered around a giant inflated fish in a Royal Oak park, doctors, mothers, environmental organizations, and dozens of citizens will come together to publicly oppose the Bush administration’s mercury plan and call on Governor Granholm to act quickly to require Michigan’s power plants to reduce mercury pollution. 


At the rally, doctors and mothers will speak out about mercury, parents with strollers will lead a march through downtown Royal Oak, and volunteers will canvass their neighborhoods to call on our elected officials to stand up for Michigan’s water.


This summer hundreds of citizens have volunteered their time and attended events like this one demanding the Bush Administration do a better job of protecting our environment.  Now, citizens are asking Governor Granholm to do what the Bush Administration won’t: dramatically reduce mercury pollution from power plants.


The event is sponsored by Michigan’s environmental organizations, including PIRGIM, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Michigan Environmental Council, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, and National Environmental Trust.


“We’re gathering to tell the Bush administration that their mercury plan is unacceptable. The administration needs to come up with something that will protect our children’s health,” stated Kate Madigan, PIRGIM Environmental Advocate. “Meanwhile, we’re urging Governor Granholm to follow through on her campaign promise to eliminate mercury from power plants. If the Bush Administration won’t do it, Michigan will.”


The Bush administration’s mercury proposal would allow power plants to emit six to seven times more mercury for a decade longer than the Clean Air Act requires. 


“Parents want to give their children the best possible opportunities in life, but mercury in their children's food and water steals those opportunities,” said Jessica Kelly-Shaieb, a local mother from Royal Oak.   


Like lead, mercury is a neurotoxin that is particularly dangerous to fetuses, infants, and young children.  Eating mercury-contaminated fish is the primary way people are exposed to mercury, which can cause learning disabilities, developmental delays, and problems with fine motor coordination.  When a pregnant woman eats mercury-contaminated fish, the mercury can cross the placenta and enter her baby’s brain.  Infants ingest mercury from breast milk, and children eat mercury-contaminated tuna sandwiches and other fish.


“One in six women of childbearing age has unsafe levels of mercury in her blood.  This means that 630,000 of the four million babies that are born each year already have been exposed to enough mercury to cause serious health problems,” said Dr. Mike Harbut, MD, MPH, FCCP, Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 


Power plants are the nation’s largest industrial source of mercury emissions.  Unlike garbage incinerators and other mercury sources, power plants can emit unlimited mercury into the air, which mixes with rain and snow, runs into water bodies, and ultimately enters the food chain.  Power plants in Michigan emitted 2,714 pounds of mercury in 2002. Michigan has fish consumption advisories for mercury covering every inland lake due to high levels of mercury.


Governor Granholm made a campaign promise two years ago to phase out and eliminate mercury power plant pollution in Michigan. Modern technologies can eliminate more than 90 percent of mercury emissions right now.  People throughout Michigan are calling on the Governor to do what the Bush administration refuses to do: require Michigan power plants to use these technologies by 2010.


“This summer, we hope Governor Granholm will listen to the overwhelming public support and take immediate action to reduce mercury pollution.” added Madigan. “We already know that it is feasible and necessary to protect children’s health, and there is no reason to delay.”


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Kate Madigan

PIRGIM Advocate

303 Abbott Street, Suite 205

East Lansing, MI 48823

Tel: 517-664-2600