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Citizens Hit by Coal Rush Urge Governor to Crack Down on CO2
MI DEQ opening floodgates to coal, which will chase out clean energy jobs; citizens take a stand at hearing on Rogers City plant
LANSING – Concerned citizens from across Michigan affected by the coal rush today called on Gov. Jennifer Granholm to order the Department of Environmental Quality to establish protections against carbon dioxide pollution and to stop the permitting process for coal plants immediately. As the DEQ held hearings in Lansing on a proposed coal plant in Rogers City, the citizens called on Granholm to stand up to coal plants until strong safeguards that protect public health and reduce greenhouse gases are in place.
The citizens descended on the Capitol to weigh in on the proposed coal plant in Rogers City. Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has refused to uphold its statutory duty to crack down on pollution and protect the public health.
Michigan faces up to eight additional coal plants, more than any other state, at a time when other states such as Kansas and Georgia are actually cancelling coal projects because of their devastating impact on public health, global warming and clean energy alternatives. At the same time, the federal government has sent strong signals that it would crack down on carbon dioxide pollution and require coal projects to follow strict standards.
"Michigan citizens cannot afford to have Rogers City be the canary in the coalmine for our future, and that's why we must act now to crack down on the coal rush," Anne Woiwode, Director of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, said. "Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been an energy leader and this is her opportunity to slam the brakes on Michigan's one-of-a-kind coal rush, protect the health of our families and create 21st century clean energy jobs. If we build coal plants, renewable energy jobs won't come to Michigan. The citizens of Michigan are sending a strong signal to Gov. Granholm that we support renewable Michigan energy and good-paying Michigan jobs, not outdated coal plants of the past."
While the federal government and other states are cracking down on CO2 and other greenhouse gas pollution, the DEQ has moved in the opposite direction, opening the door for two new coal plant projects, in Rogers City and in Holland. The DEQ has already given Northern Michigan University the green light to build a coal plant at its Upper Peninsula campus.
"Unless we take a stand against the Rogers City proposal now and end the coal rush, Michigan will stand alone while the rest of the nation moves away from coal, creates renewable energy jobs and joins the fight against global warming," Rogers City resident Bob Brietzke said. "The federal government has affirmed that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant and every new plant should have a limit on the dangerous gases it releases into our air – and Michigan should follow suit and do the right thing. Michigan has the opportunity to open the door to repower, refuel and rebuild America by investing in clean energy technologies that will create jobs, protect our health and safeguard our quality of life."
In Michigan, eight coal plants could be built; at least four have begun the permitting process. Those four would emit more than 15 million tons of CO2 yearly, and more than 750 million tons of CO2 over their expected 50-year lives. Michigan must dramatically reduce CO2 emissions to avert catastrophic climate change, a goal that would be significantly hampered if new coal plants are built.
"Concerned citizens across Michigan have shown they are ready to fight each coal plant, one project at a time, to protect our future," Faith Bugel, senior attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center said. "Michigan must crack down now on CO2 pollution and focus on growing renewable energy and fighting the climate crisis."
Economic studies have indicated that investing in energy efficiency and alternative energy production would create many more Michigan jobs as building all of the eight coal plants currently proposed. According to studies by the Renewable Energy Policy Project and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Michigan could create 46,000 new jobs by investing in renewable energy and efficiency.