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Governor Kathleen Sebelius, from that left-leaning, carbon-hugging state of Kansas, has succeeded in facing down the outrageous efforts of the national coal plant juggernaut and has WON in her decision to say a resounding NO to 1400 MW of coal fired power plants proposed in her state.(see http://cjonline.com/stories/052108/bre_coal.shtml)   Her bold action to reduce her state’s excessive additional contribution to Global Warming and Greenhouse Gases was affirmed when the KS Speaker of the House announced they are giving up the attempt to override her veto of legislation designed to force the construction of the plants, which utilities and coal companies spent huge amounts trying to get passed.  Governor Sebelius’s action, first played out through the Director of KS environmental agency denial of the permit, will likely be seen as a watershed in the approach of the US to carbon emissions.


Here in Michigan, by contrast, the DEQ has already said YES to the first of FIVE CO2 spewing, coal fired power plant proposals which total more than 2300 MW that are CURRENTLY in front of the DEQ Air Quality Division for permits.  In saying yes to the Northern Michigan University Ripley Heating Plant permit, (a STATE OWNED facility which has declined to pursue energy efficiency and renewable options in its quest to be the first new coal plant built in Michigan in more than 20 years) the DEQ AQD also said the following in response to comments:


”With respect to wind and solar power, the CFB boiler is intended to be operated at full capacity. A

wind power plant would be far less reliable due to variations in wind speed and even the very

presence of wind. Electricity generation using solar power is impractical as a daily process in a

northern climate and has not been demonstrated as feasible for the combination of the small

parcel of land available at Northern Michigan University and the proposed plant capacity.”


“The MDEQ is required to review and consider the applications for permits in accordance with

applicable existing state and federal law. There are no federal or state rules requiring limits on

carbon dioxide emissions from electric generating units, and the DEQ cannot suspend the

processing of permits until such rules are promulgated. Although carbon dioxide is an air

contaminant, under Michigan’s rules carbon dioxide has been specifically excluded from the

definition of a toxic air contaminant since the first adoption of the definition on April 17, 1992

[Rule 336.1120(f)(xi)].


“The facility will emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. There are presently no regulations limiting

emissions of carbon dioxide. However, the MDEQ and Governor Granholm share your concern

about climate change and its potential negative impacts on the state of Michigan.

Executive Directive No. 2006-2 was designed to help Michigan develop an alternative energy

industry. It directs the creation of the 21st Century Energy Plan. The Plan recommends that

Michigan's future energy needs be met through a combination of renewable resources and the

cleanest generating technology, with significant energy savings achieved by increased energy

efficiency. The Plan recommends that all retail electric energy suppliers be required to obtain at

least 10 percent of their energy supplies from renewable resources by 2015. A renewable portfolio

standard provides protection from volatile electric energy markets, and provides protection from

costs associated with expected federal taxes on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


“According to the press release for the 21st Century Energy Plan,

Michigan's load growth is expected to grow an average of 1.2 percent per year over the next 20 years.

Recognizing that the average age of Michigan's power plants is 48 years, and that no Michigan utilities

have undertaken baseload construction in almost 20 years, it is important that a new baseload plant can be

built and financed while protecting customers from unnecessary costs. Modeling shows a need for a new

baseload power plant no later than 2015, and since build time on a baseload plant is at least six years, the

state should take action now.


“Building upon these Executive Directives and to more fully realize its leadership role in the area of

climate change, Governor Granholm has created a Michigan Climate Action Council (MCAC) to

develop a comprehensive climate action plan for the state. The plan will provide recommendations

for reducing GHG emissions in Michigan and will build upon previous measures to reduce the

state's reliance on energy sources from outside its borders. The MCAC will prepare its preliminary

recommendations and goals by April 30, 2008, with final recommendations and goals to follow by

December 31, 2008. The state of Michigan will implement this climate action plan in a coordinated

and broad-based manner. Additional information on the MCAC can be found at



“On November 15, 2007, Governor Granholm joined nine other Midwestern leaders in signing the

Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord. This Accord will serve as a regional strategy to achieve

energy security and reduce GHG emissions. The Accord will also establish GHG reduction targets

and time frames, develop a market-based and multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism to help

achieve those reduction targets, establish a reduction tracking, management, and crediting

system, and develop and implement additional steps as needed to achieve the reduction targets”.


Of course, anyone paying attention knows that Michigan’s DEQ has TWICE been petitioned to regulate CO2 in the last 10 months, and in both cases the request was denied, largely because it was said the state’s policy would be developed through the Michigan Climate Action Council.  There is litigation being pursued by a small organization in Rogers City, Citizens for Environmental Inquiry, to force the DEQ to proceed with rulemaking on CO2 and for the state to put the brakes on any coal plant permits until such time as those regulations are in place.  But DEQ is vigorously fighting this effort with the same arguments, and has not surprisingly been joined by Consumers Energy, Wolverine Power Cooperative and LS Power/Dynegy to try stop the effort to properly regulate CO2 before the five plants go through permitting. 


As in any emergency, like the devastating impacts of Global Warming projected by all credible scientists (largely because of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including a very distinguished contingent from Michigan’s universities) it is reasonable to at least stop the bleeding while doing the diagnosis.  In Michigan, it appears we may be choosing to increase the bleeding by allowing 2300 MW of coal fired power plants to be built that are not needed, which are going to cost our state billions of dollars while committing us to ship barrels of money out of the state to pay for coal for generations, and that will harm our health, our lakes, our fisheries, etc.


Governor Sebelius’s actions, though bold, are simply the rational, thoughtful actions of a politician who cares about the future of her state and the nation.




Anne Woiwode, State Director

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

(517) 484-2372