December 29, 2009

Groups Sharply Criticize Granholm-Cherry Administration Approval of Coal Plant


CONTACT:
Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club, 517-974-2112
Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action, 517-490-1394
Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council, 312-651-7909
David Holtz, Progress Michigan, 313-300-4454

Today's DEQ’s decision strikes blow to clean energy jobs


LANSING – Clean energy and environmental groups today criticized a decision today by Governor Granholm’s Department of Environmental Quality approving a controversial permit for a coal plant project in Bay City, a move that strikes a blow to clean energy investments and jobs in Michigan. The DEQ is expected to put off a decision on a pending permit application for a smaller coal plant in Rogers City.

We are disappointed by the failure of Governor Granholm to keep her promise to move Michigan toward a clean energy economy. Thousands committed to Michigan’s future are rallying to fight this badly flawed decision at every step to get Michigan back on track toward a clean energy economy,” Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director Anne Woiwode said.. “Governor Granholm’s DEQ had an important decision to make today and it failed the test of leadership. Building a coal plant Michigan doesn’t need near Bay City will saddle ratepayers with terrible costs and waste investors’ money. By approving the Bay City plant, the Granholm Administration will set back Michigan’s efforts to build a clean energy economy that can create good-paying jobs.”

The DEQ’s decision comes despite the Michigan Public Service Commission staff conclusion that Consumers Energy does not need a new baseload power plant until at least 2022, and that any electricity needs could be met through available cleaner sources, including efficiency and renewables. The MPSC staff also concluded that the proposed coal plant in Rogers City, requested by Wolverine Power, was not needed at all. The recommendations stemmed from the failure of the utilities to show that Michigan needs more energy in coming years. The utilities also failed to counter growing evidence that renewable energy – and not dirty coal – could meet future needs.

The Clean Air Act permit for a new Consumers' Bay City coal plant is expected to include language involving the decommissioning of older coal plants by Consumers, but environmental groups say the permit decision does nothing to push Consumers toward clean energy alternatives.

Michigan is heading in the wrong direction with this unfortunate decision,” Clean Water Action Michigan Director Cyndi Roper said. “The federal government has declared coal pollutants a threat to human health. Every other state is investing in clean energy, creating jobs and turning away from coal. Michigan, on the other hand, is looking to the past and this decision threatens to keep us in the energy Dark Ages."

The citizens of Michigan and the Bay City area will pay a steep price for this ill-advised decision,” Roper said. “The citizens of Michigan have said they don’t want any more coal plants and they will not accept half-measures. We will continue our fight. Michigan wants more jobs, not more coal plants that will empty our pockets and put our economic future at risk.”

Thousands of citizens had voiced opposition to the development of new dirty coal plants in Michigan, including the ones in Rogers City and Bay City. Citizens groups have repeatedly called on the government to reject permits to build new plants and invest instead in clean energy.

According to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michigan can meet its energy needs through a combination of wind power, solar and other renewable energy sources coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs. Among the NRDC’s findings:
  • Energy efficiency program alone could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity costs over the next 20 years.
  • Michigan’s previous energy plan, written in 2007, is out of date, with unrealistic projections of future electrical demand, limited implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reliance on outdated 20th century coal technologies.
  • Clean renewable energy is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th century plan based on new but obsolete large power plants driven by fossil fuels. 

December 20, 2009

Conservationists and Anglers Honor the Life of Legendary Michigan River Keeper Rusty Gates


GRAYLING, MICHIGAN -- Celebrated conservationist and fly-fisherman Calvin "Rusty" Gates Jr. died on December 19, 2009 at his home on the banks of the Au Sable River in Grayling, Michigan after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was 54 years old. Gates served as president of the Anglers of the Au Sable from its inception in 1987 until 2009. During this time he and his organization won several landmark legal cases in coldwater conservation.

“Rusty was a true treasure,” said Rebecca Humphries, Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “He loved the Holy Waters of the Au Sable and shared that love with countless individuals. He taught us that it is our duty to respect the resource and to protect it. His love of the river lives on in all of us. I have been truly blessed to know Rusty.”

Gates was the proprietor of Gates Au Sable Lodge, and an iconic fly-fishing personality. Rusty's father Cal Gates Sr. moved his family to Grayling in 1970 and, along with his wife Mary, purchased the lodge on the banks of the Au Sable River. Cal Sr. had taught high school music, and Rusty played trombone in high school. But soon his passion for fly-fishing occupied most of his time. He began tying flies professionally at the age of 17, as well as guiding. At first Gates' flies were sold in the corner of the restaurant at the lodge, but soon demand was great enough that the Gates family added a full-service fly-shop to the lodge. Eventually Rusty bought the lodge and operated it with his wife Julie, who ran the restaurant.

“Of all the strong conservationists in our world, Rusty was one of the toughest. He was tireless, and he was like a missile in his precision and deadly accuracy. Yet he never, ever, wanted credit for anything—just for the various groups he worked with, especially the Anglers of the Au Sable,” said Tom Rosenbauer, winner of the 2001 National Outdoor Book Award, and Marketing Director for the Orvis Company.

Gates Lodge is a place where thousands of anglers gather annually during fly fishing season from April through autumn. Rusty and Julie could be found there at all hours, tending to the smallest details of fly tying and gourmet cooking. With classical music playing in the background, the fly shop buzzed with patrons’ latest stories from the nearby woods and waters. Coffee flowed freely as anglers bent over the dozens of boxes of flies, hoping to pick correctly for the day ahead. Rusty Gates presided over the daily scene with eagle eyes, a wry grin, and measured words. Fishing tips from this master were earned, not purchased. This tradition, while changed forever by Rusty’s passing, will continue in 2010 as Gates Lodge remains in business under the leadership of fly shop manager Josh Greenberg, who has worked for Rusty for the last 15 years.

“Rusty proved that people don't fill their gas tank to fill their fry pan. They put on their waders to nourish their soul. Rusty did that for all of us, and our great-great-great grandkids. Sure, they won't know it, but when one of them flips an Adams, or a Trico, over a rising brown in 2109 it will have Rusty’s name etched on it,” said Glen Sheppard, author/editor of the conservation newspaper The North Woods Call.

The quiet, unassuming Gates' soon gained recognition for his expertise in fly-fishing, as well as his honesty and willingness to defend the resource. He developed a number of fly-patterns that became standard Au Sable fly patterns, introduced scores of people to the world of fly-fishing, and began to combine angling and conservation in such a way as to involve himself in some of the most influential coldwater issues in Michigan . In 1995 he was awarded the coveted Fly Rod and Reel Magazine “Angler of the Year” award for his conservation and cultural contributions to the sport of fly-fishing.

"Rusty Gates was a brave, smart, tireless champion of wild trout and beautiful, magic places they abide. He lead by example; and he has touched and inspired us all," said Ted Williams, noted Conservation Editor for Fly Rod and Reel.

In a legal case that would define his commitment to the Au Sable River, in 2003 Gates, as President of the Anglers of the Au Sable, challenged a US Forest Service lease that would allow exploratory drilling for gas below the famed Mason Tract section of the South Branch of the Au Sable. With the odds stacked against them, the Anglers prevailed in their case against the Forest Service, forever altering how the business of gas and oil exploration would be conducted in the fragile areas of Michigan.

"While Rusty will mainly be remembered for his role in protecting the Au Sable, he changed forever the way we look at and work to protect our water resources and wildlife. We owe it to Rusty to carry on his work and make sure children in every generation to come will be able to share the wonder and joy in Michigan’s wild places that are his legacy," said Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director Anne Woiwode.

Calvin "Rusty" Gates, Jr. will be missed by the many who knew him. He was an intensely private man who could, when needed, organize hundreds of people around a cause. Considered by many as one of the most talented fundraisers and recruiters they'd ever met, Rusty will be remembered for his uninhibited love for the river and the river valley, and his steadfastness in doing what he and many others considered right and necessary for the resource. He is survived by his wife Julie, their children, and a large extended family. 

December 19, 2009

In Memorium: Calvin "Rusty" Gates, 1955 - 2009



ODE TO A FRIEND OF THE RIVER


Still shadows start to lengthen,
Beneath the setting sun.
The hungry trout are risin’,
Down on Rusty’s Run.

The River flows with magic

Of spinner, nymph and dun.
Hatches fill the evening skies,
Down on Rusty’s Run.

The River calls to anglers

While paddlers have their fun.
Browns hide under cedar bows,
Down on Rusty’s Run.

The River has her history

Of battles fought and won.
Brookies flash their gratitude,
Down on Rusty’s Run.

The Au Sable has touched many

And loves her favorite son.
We’ll fish with him forever,
Down on Rusty’s Run.

I dream about the River
And miss her favorite son.
He’ll guide us through rough waters,
Down on Rusty’s Run.

  by Lorne Beatty, December 2009


November 19, 2009

Petition Urges Consumers Energy CEO to Go Beyond Coal


Proposed coal plant is a bad investment, job killer for Michigan

LANSING – Concerned Consumers Energy ratepayers and watchdog groups today launched a statewide petition drive calling on Consumers Energy CEO David Joos to drop the utility’s push for a new coal plant,
calling it a job killer and a bad investment for stockholders, ratepayers and Michigan’s future.

In stops across the state, the groups invited citizens to sign the petition and join the effort to invest in 21st century energy jobs by moving away from coal, an outdated energy source. Sign the petition here.

“Michigan has a tradition of hard work and looking forward, and together we can look forward to a future of clean Michigan energy that is creating Michigan jobs for Michigan workers,” Sierra Club Michigan Director Anne Woiwode said. “Coal is a bad investment, and a risk to both stockholders and ratepayers. Clean energy is quickly on its way to creating more jobs than coal ever will. That’s why we’re inviting Michigan citizens to tell Consumers CEO David Joos to end the coal rush and help us invest instead in a strong clean energy future for Michigan.”

Despite a recommendation from Michigan Public Service Commission staff that there are many good alternatives to building a new coal plant near Bay City, Consumers is continuing to pursue the project. Construction of the Bay City plant could cost ratepayers at least an estimated $2.6 billion, with billions more over its lifetime spent on dirty coal, carbon costs and environmental impacts.
“Coal is outdated technology that will increase rates for fewer Michigan jobs and more pollution,” Clean Water Action Michigan Director Cyndi Roper said. “Consumers Energy ratepayers and Michigan workers deserve better. They deserve a future that will keep electric costs down, create Michigan jobs and strengthen our energy independence.”

Clean energy investments will create up to 42,000 jobs in Michigan and as many as 1.9 million jobs nationally by 2020, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California-Berkley. In addition, these investments would increase annual household income in Michigan by $667 to $750 per year and boost GDP by $2 billion to $2.4 billion, according to the collaborative study unveiled in October.

“Michigan families are hungry for 21st century clean energy jobs,” Gussie Farris, a Consumers Energy rate payer from Grand Rapids said. “In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we urge Consumers CEO David Joos to help create the gift of clean energy jobs for Michigan families and help move our economy into the future.”

According to a September report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michigan can meet its energy needs through a combination of wind power, biomass, and other renewable energy sources coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs. Among the NRDC’s findings:
  • Energy efficiency programs could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity costs over the next 20 years.

  • Michigan’s previous energy plan, written in 2007, is out of date, with unrealistic projections of future electrical demand, limited implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reliance on outdated 20th century coal technologies.
  • Clean renewable energy is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th century plan based on new but obsolete large power plants driven by fossil fuels.

October 30, 2009

Give Ratepayers a Break!

Citizens’ Groups React to CMS Quarterly Report


Contact: Tiffany Hartung

JACKSON, MI – While Michigan residents struggle to find the money to pay their electric bills, CMS Energy announced their quarterly profits this afternoon. The company gave no indication that they would stop reckless spending on an unnecessary and risky coal-fired power plant or do away with plans to make ratepayers foot the bill for the plant, despite announcing that profits are down for the third quarter compared to the same period last year.
In a call with shareholders and financial analysts today, CMS CEO David Joos blamed the continued reduction in profits on "the continuing downturn in the state's economy," according to a CMS press release. He also cited "reduced electricity demand" as adversely affecting the energy giant's bottom line.

For the first nine months of 2009, CMS Energy had reported net income of $216 million, or $0.92 per share, compared to reported net income of $224 million, or $0.94 per share, for the first nine months of 2008.

" Michigan ’s working families have been hit hard by this recession and can’t afford to pick up the tab for an expensive and dirty coal-fired power plant," said Patty Gillis from Voices for Earth Justice. “We need a break, and CMS Energy should put more of those earnings into energy efficiency to help businesses and homes cut electric bills and pollution at the same time.”

CMS affiliate Consumers Energy is seeking approval for a $2.6 billion coal-fired power plant at the site of existing coal plants in Essexville. Changes in state law secured by utilities last year will allow rate increases to go into effect on electric customers while the plant is being built, even though no new electricity would be available until at least 2017. In addition, residential Consumers Energy customers will receive the highest rate increases among customer classes as a result of the new law, with estimates of rate jumps as high as 30%, or in line with rate increases recently requested by WE Energies in the western U.P. to pay for new coal plants in Wisconsin .

Additional rate increases are also expected to be requested by Consumers Energy to clean up arsenic and other toxins spewing into Saginaw Bay from leaking coal ash waste pits on the Essexville site. In addition, Consumers Energy is currently fighting the Michigan Public Service Commission’s efforts to return more than $13 million in overpayments for tree trimming and fuel costs to ratepayers as required in a 2005 order. Just as the economy begins to recover, businesses and families that get their power from Consumers Energy will end up stuck with higher bills for more pollution.

“This rate increase is one of more to come that is unnecessary when people can’t afford more increases on their electricity,” said Walt Bryden of Bay County Group Citizens Exploring Clean Energy.

Citizens also reacted to Joos statement that the company would "continue to focus on providing customers with...affordable energy service in the most efficient and cost-effective manner."

“Earning profits on the backs of Michigan businesses and families while putting more pollution into our water and air is not the right direction for CMS Energy shareowners,” said Anne Woiwode of the Sierra Club. “Instead of replacing aging infrastructure with more dirty coal, CMS Energy has the opportunity to earn returns on large capital investments in energy efficiency and clean energy, unleashing innovation and creating thousands of jobs for Michigan workers in new industries.” As part of a review of need for the proposed coal plant, Public Service Commission staff recently reported that alternatives such as energy efficiency and clean energy could meet future needs for Consumers Energy.

“Raising our rates for an unnecessary and dirty coal plant in order to earn more profits for David Joos and CMS Energy is the wrong direction for Michigan ’s economy,” continued Gillis, “Give us a break.”

"Their solution is to ask us to pay more for something we don't need? How absurd," said David Holtz, Executive Director of Progress Michigan. Holtz added that the company should be increasing its investment in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy to help customers make ends meet and create new family-supporting jobs in these challenging economic times.

September 30, 2009

Lawmakers Applauded For Rejecting DEQ Budget Cuts

Democrats, Lone Republican Showed Courage In Opposing Leader’s Spending Plan


LANSING, MI--Michigan Democratic lawmakers—including those who bucked their party’s leaders and rejected deep funding cuts to water, air and land protection programs—were hailed today as heroes by leading environmental groups. Also singled out for praise was state Sen. Valde Garcia, a Livingston County Republican who was the lone GOP vote against the environmental funding cuts.

“The 40 state representatives and 16 senators who voted against the worst modern-day attack on Michigan environmental programs showed wisdom, courage and reflected the best of Michigan’s values Tuesday,” said Anne Woiwode, Michigan Director of Sierra Club. “All of us owe them our gratitude and respect.”

Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action, said the majority of House Democrats who rejected the all-cuts budget for the Department of Environmental Quality especially deserve the thanks of Michigan residents who care about the quality of their water, air and land. Those 40 representatives stood in opposition to Speaker Andy Dillon’s proposed budget.

“To quote one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter, ‘It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends,’ “said Roper. “Elected officials like Rep. Sarah Roberts and Rep. Rebekah Warren showed what real leadership is all about—doing what’s best for Michigan even if it’s not popular with their party’s leadership.”

Sierra Club and Clean Water Action have called on the governor to veto the joint DEQ and Department of Natural Resources budget and said that if state government fails to fund critical air and water programs in the days ahead, the federal Environmental Protection Agency should take over all water and air quality enforcement and permitting activities. More than $196 million was cut from the joint state Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources budget.

Fifteen Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Mike Prussi, voted against the environmental budget cuts. In the House, a majority of Democrats opposed the cuts. They were:

Rep. Kathy Angerer, Rep. Douglas Geiss, Rep. Burton Leland, Rep. Roy Schmidt, Rep.Vicki Barnett, Rep. Vincent Gregory, Rep. LaMar Lemmons Jr., Rep. Bettie Cook Scott, Rep. Joan Bauer, Rep. Jennifer Haase, Rep. Ellen Lipton, Rep. Dan Scripps, Rep. Timothy Bledsoe, Rep. Harold Haugh, Rep. Lesia Liss, Rep. Kate Segal, Rep. Lisa Brown, Rep. Mike Huckleberry, Rep. Mark Meadows, Rep. Dian Slavens, Rep. Pam Byrnes, Rep. Shanelle Jackson, Rep. Tim Melton, Rep. Alma Smith, Rep. Barb Byrum, Rep. Bert Johnson, Rep. Fred Miller, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Andy Coulouris, Rep. Robert Jones, Rep. David Nathan, Rep. Mary Valentine, Rep. Marie Donigan, Rep. Andrew Kandrevas, Rep. Andy Neumann, Rep. Rebkah Warren, Rep. Fred Durhal Jr., Rep. Deb Kennedy, Rep. Sarah Roberts, Rep. Coleman Young II 

September 29, 2009

Water, Air and Land At Risk With Deep Budget Cuts


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
Cyndi Roper 517-490-1394

Anne Woiwode 517-974-2112

Wednesday, September 29, 2009 

Groups Call For Veto, Say Pure Michigan Ads Should Be Dropped
Feds Brought In To Take Over Enforcement

LANSING, MI--Michigan’s two largest environmental groups said today that the elimination of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), along with deep cuts in environmental funding by the Legislature, means the state has effectively turned over Michigan’s natural resources to polluters.

Sierra Club and Clean Water Action called on the governor to veto the joint DEQ and Department of Natural Resources budget and said that if state government fails to fund critical air and water programs in the days ahead, the federal Environmental Protection Agency should take over all water and air quality enforcement and permitting activities.
“It’s open season on Michigan’s water, air and land, and from a budget standpoint entirely unnecessary. There were other choices,” said Cyndi Roper of Clean Water Action. “It is not an exaggeration to say the Legislature has completely bent to the will of corporate polluters who saw an opportunity in this budget crisis to destroy environmental protection in this state. It’s a complete failure of leadership from both political parties.”

Since 1996 the DEQ has seen funding adjusted for inflation decrease by $156.9 million, reflecting a disproportionate drop in budgets compared to other parts of state government.
“With the Legislature’s cuts this week we will now see even more polluted rivers and beaches, dirtier air, less wildlife and more toxic waste,” said Anne Woiwode, Michigan Director of Sierra Club. “Michigan’s tourism economy will suffer and residents will get sicker. It’s time to pull the Pure Michigan ads off TV or else someone’s going to file a complaint charging the state with deceptive advertising.”

With Tuesday’s action by the House, the Legislature, with Governor Granholm’s support, has now voted to eliminate the Department of Environmental Quality and transfer all of its programs to the Department of Natural Resources, while cutting funding for 2010 by $195.6 million.

Lawmakers yesterday took a budget axe to water, air and other environmental programs. Dozens of environmental and natural resource enforcement officers will be cut from an already barebones enforcement staff. Moreover, the new DNR will not only take on what’s left of environmental programs. It is also now shouldered with managing museums, art and library programs as part of the elimination of another state agency in the 2010 budget.
“Somehow the Legislature found $6 million to fund the state fair, but Michigan’s Great Lakes legacy is flushed down the drain,” said David Holtz of Progress Michigan. “That’s not Pure Michigan. That’s pure B.S.”

Said Woiwode: “Michigan residents have to wonder the next time a stash of barrels containing toxic chemicals are found in their neighborhood, will there be anyone to respond to the call for help? That’s the DEQ’s job. What will happen the next time toxic yellow fumes begin billowing out of a nearby factory? It’s DEQ’s job to respond to these emergencies. Already, funding cuts have prevented the DEQ from stopping disasters like the destruction of 12 miles of the Black River from an animal factory sewage discharge. What will happen with more cuts?”
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September 8, 2009

State Agency Deals a Death Blow to Coal Plants

MPSC staff says no need for new coal plants in Michigan until at least 2022


LANSING – Concerned citizens declared a major victory today after the Michigan Public Service Commission staff dealt a death blow to two controversial dirty coal plant projects, rejecting in a filing today the construction of one in Rogers City and delaying a decision on a second one in Bay City until 2022.

“These critical decisions mean Michigan is ready to open the door to clean energy jobs and walk away from dirty coal,” Sierra Club-Michigan Executive Director Anne Woiwode said. “For years, the people of Michigan spoke loud and clear: No more dirty coal and yes to clean renewable energy. And dirty coal and yes to clean renewable energy. And today, the citizens of Michigan have a much- deserved victory in the fight to build a strong, clean energy future.”

Environmental leaders credited a portion of today’s victory to Governor Granholm’s decision last year to submit the coal decision to a rigorous review by Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) staff and the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

After receiving over 8,000 comments and technical filings, the MPSC staff advised the DEQ in a filing today that there is no need for the power from a proposed coal plant in Rogers City, requested by Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative. The agency staff also advised that the proposed expansion of Consumers Energy’s Karn Weadock plant in Essexville was not needed until at least 2022, five years after Consumers’ original proposed start date. The recommendations stemmed from the failure of the utilities to show that Michigan needs more energy in coming years. The utilities also failed to counter growing evidence that renewable energy and energy efficiency – and not dirty coal – could meet future needs.

“Now that we have beaten back the threat of dirty coal, Michigan can begin the work of building a full- fledged 21>st century energy future driven by clean renewable energy, and create good-paying jobs in the process,” Clean Water Action-Michigan Director Cyndi Roper said. “By 2020, Michigan will be a leader in clean energy technology, our nation will have tough new clean energy laws and stronger pollution standards will be in place. Michigan now has a tremendous opportunity to fully invest in clean energy, not dirty coal, to attract new jobs and move Michigan forward.”

“This report shows that clean energy can power Michigan’s future,” said Faith Bugel, Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We’ve been sending our money down a mineshaft for too long. Moving away from outdated coal power will build our economy and protect our environment. The citizens of Michigan deserve applause for standing up for a clean energy future.”

Thousands of comments were submitted in opposition to the development of the Rogers City and Bay City new dirty coal plants in Michigan. Citizens groups have repeatedly called on the government to reject permits to build new plants and invest instead in clean energy. A final decision on whether to grant Clean Air Act permits to Wolverine and Consumers Energy rests with the state Department of Environmental Quality, which promises a ruling by the end of the year.

According to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michigan can meet its energy needs through a combination of wind power, biomass, and other renewable energy sources biomass, and other renewable energy sources coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs. [1] The report was issued as the Michigan Public Service Commission prepares to make recommendations to the Department of Environmental Quality on the need for power and availability of cleaner alternative to coal, following the end of a public comments period. Among the NRDC’s findings:

  • Energy efficiency program alone could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity costs over the next 20 years. Michigan’s previous energy plan, written in 2007, is out of date, with unrealistic projections of future electrical demand, limited implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reliance on outdated 20th century coal technologies. 
  • Clean renewable energy is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th century plan based on new but obsolete large power plants driven by fossil fuels.



[1] Natural Resources Defense Council, “A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/ene_09081101.asp

August 18, 2009

Citizens urge Granholm to reject dirty coal amid public opposition


Natural Resources Defense Council, “A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan,”
http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/ene_09081101.asp

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009

New study shows Michigan benefits all around from clean energy, energy efficiency as thousands oppose dirty coal projects

Lansing – With 8,000 citizens opposing the development of new dirty coal plants in Michigan, citizens groups are calling on Gov. Jennifer Granholm to reject permits to build new plants and invest instead in clean energy – something a landmark new report recommends could jumpstart Michigan’s economy and create jobs.

The public comment period for the last of two coal plant proposals ended Monday and now a decision on the plants rests with the Granholm administration.

“The people of Michigan have spoken and the message is loud and clear: No dirty coal, more clean renewable energy, “ Clean Water Action–Michigan Executive Director Cyndi Roper said. “Gov. Jennifer Granholm slowed the rush to build new coal plants by forcing the coal and power industry to prove there were no feasible and prudent alternatives to meet Michigan’s energy needs – and they failed. Now we call on her to take the only possible next step and that’s rejecting the two dirty coal plant proposals in Rogers City by Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative and Bay City by Consumers Energy. We also call on her to help set in motion the decommissioning of some existing dirty coal plants owned by Consumers Energy that the company identifies as the ‘oldest fleet in the nation.’ ”

According to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michigan can meet its energy needs through a combination of wind power, biomass, and other renewable energy sources coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs. The report comes as the Michigan Public Service Commission prepares to make recommendations to the Department of Environmental Quality on the need for power and availability of cleaner alternative to coal, following the end of a public comments period. Among the NRDC’s findings:
  • Energy efficiency program alone could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity costs over the next 20 years.
  • Michigan’s previous energy plan, written in 2007, is out of date, with unrealistic projections of future electrical demand, limited implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reliance on outdated 20th century coal technologies.
  • Clean renewable energy is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th century plan based on new but obsolete large power plants driven by fossil fuels.
“Gov. Jennifer Granholm has the opportunity to set Michigan on the path to clean energy and away from building any new dirty coal plants that will send Michigan backwards,” said Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director Anne Woiwode. “The governor has been leading the charge to turn Michigan into a hub of clean energy production for the nation. Doing so will create thousands of jobs in the rapidly growing field of renewable energy and protect our land, air and water. It’s a win-win for Michigan – and this landmark new Natural Resources Defense Council report shows how.”

The citizens groups called on Granholm to put the final nail in the coffin for the new coal plant projects in Michigan after the DEQ ended public comments on the proposed Bay City coal plant on August 11 and one in Rogers City Monday. At one point, Michigan faced up to eight possible new coal plants – more than any other state. Intense public pressure campaigns prevented a rubber stamp of at least three coal projects, including Rogers City and Bay City. Citizens also called on the governor to begin decommissioning Consumers Energy’s oldest, most polluting coal plants.

“Closing the door to coal plants will protect public health and create 21st Century clean energy jobs,” Progress Michigan Executive Director David Holtz said. “Governor Jennifer Granholm has led the charge to build a clean energy future for Michigan. She can help us win the battle against dirty coal once and for all by walking away from coal permanently and investing our resources and our talents in wind, solar and other forms of renewable clean energy.”

Clean Water Action, Sierra Club and NRDC were joined by a number of other organizations in challenging the proposed coal permits, including the Environmental Law & Policy Center. 

July 27, 2009

House Agriculture Passes Meaningless Animal Welfare Bills


Sierra Club Press Statement by Gayle Miller, Legislative Director

Today the House Agriculture Committee passed a package of so-called Animal Welfare bills over the strong objections of the environmental community, the Michigan Farmers Union representing small, non-industrialized farms, the State Bar of Michigan, faith groups, animal welfare organizations and more. Four of the six democrats on the committee opposed the bills or passed when the vote was taken.
The bills set up an expensive and unnecessary regulatory process requiring all farms in the state – from animal factories on down to hobby farmers – to hire auditors to oversee the way they care for their animals. The farm audit system established in the bills specifies that the auditor work for the farm, and not the people of Michigan, creating an immediate conflict of interest. What’s worse, all information collected by the auditor stays on the farm, guaranteeing that the public can learn nothing about the food they eat.

After four hours of vigorous debate in the committee, and vocal opposition by Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), even the Department of Agriculture agreed that the state already has the authority to require better standards for animal welfare. The bills, however, actually put implementation of existing animal welfare standards on hold until 2020, delaying compliance with care standards that should already be in place – meaning the bills are a stall tactic.

Representatives Barnett and Valentine (D-Muskegon) urged Chairman Simpson (D-Jackson) to postpone a vote on the bills so that a workgroup could be established that would include a broader section of the public and farming community. However, the bills as passed by the Committee today were negotiated behind closed doors between the Chairman, the Farm Bureau and industrial producer groups. Other groups were not invited.

The Sierra Club is particularly concerned with the self-regulatory audit program. Similar programs suggesting how animal factories operate have for years enabled CAFOs to cause severe air and water pollution in rural communities while preventing rural residents and communities from protecting their public health.

Fundamentally the package of bills is designed to keep the public from knowing how their food is produced. The horrific conditions often found within animal factories will not be solved by this package, but will instead allow business to continue as usual. The public will have less, not more, information and confidence in the quality of their food if these bills pass.

People who have first-hand knowledge of CAFO-style food production are seeking alternatives – thus the boom in farm markets and direct, farm-to-consumer marketing. Unfortunately, the small producers feeding these hungry markets will be unfairly burdened by these new regulations.

The Farm Bureau and industrial agriculture have fought meaningful regulation for years. The fact that these groups are now asking for additional regulation should raise a red flag. 

July 17, 2009

Sierra Club is OPPOSED to these bills

Position Statement

SBs 13, 431, 434 – 436 and 438 – 439: MDEQ “Reform”


Votes pertaining to these bills may be included on the Sierra Club’s legislative scorecard.

Issue Background
These bills purport to “reform” the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) as follows:
  • SB 13 – Requires State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (SOAHR) to analyze each new rule proposed by a regulatory agency to see if it exceeds federal standards, etc.
  • SB 431 – Requires SOAHR to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of each new proposed rule and deny rulemaking that exceeds federal standards
  • SB 434 – Prohibits Michigan from enacting environmental protections stronger than federal law and limits regulatory actions and rulemaking
  • SB 435 – requires regular review of rules to assess impact on small businesses, etc.
  • SB 436 – Shifts permitting activities to private contractors working for the permit
    applicant and requires MDEQ to rush permitting activities.
  • SB 438 requires the MDEQ to use stratified random sampling for inspections of
    permitted facilities.
  • SB 439 – Requires a benchmark analysis of MDEQ regulatory programs administered
    by a newly created review board

Sierra Club Perspective
For years there have been attempts by certain lawmakers and some factions of the regulated community to undermine the MDEQ’s ability to do its job of protecting of Michigan’s valuable natural resources and the health of the public. This package of bills is no different.

Despite the fact that the MDEQ continues to face crushing budget shortfalls, recent surveys indicate that the majority of the regulated community is very satisfied with the service they obtain from the agency.

These bills would have devastating impacts on environmental protections in Michigan, putting both public health and the environment at risk. They would tie the MDEQ in knots, with mountains of regulatory red tape, and put industry in charge of regulating itself.

These bills will do nothing to improve the MDEQ’s ability to do its job. On the contrary, they are designed to cripple the agency. They also constitute a huge waste of the state’s scarce financial resources.

Michigan must not abdicate its authority over environmental protection to the federal government. Our state must maintain both the authority and the funding to protect citizens, our air quality, the Great Lakes, and Michigan’s other natural resources. If we do otherwise, the theme of “Pure Michigan” will become nothing more than a joke.

Please contact the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter office at (517) 484-2372 for more information. June 17, 2009 

July 9, 2009

100 Coal Plants Prevented or Abandoned, Including 3 in Michigan

Movement Sparks Shift to Cleaner Energy
and Over 400 Million Fewer Tons of CO2


Contacts:
Anne Woiwode, Lansing 517-484-2372
Tiffany Hartung, SE Michigan and Bay City 248-549-6213
Lee Sprague, Northern and Western Michigan 616-570-1281
Jan O’Connell, Holland and Grand Rapids 616-956-6646

Washington, DC: As of today 100 coal plants have been defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush this century, including the Tondu Northern Lights Plant proposal in Manistee, the LS Power MidMichigan Energy plant proposal, and Northern Michigan University’s proposed heating plant in Marquette. In their place, a smart mix of clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal has stepped up to meet America’s energy needs. Last year 42 percent of all new power producing capacity came from wind, and for the first time the wind industry created more jobs than mining coal. Despite Michigan’s difficult economic situation, wind and solar energy manufacturing has been one of the bright spots for job creation in the state.

Coming just a week after Los Angeles, CA, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the city would end coal use by 2020, and announced the same day as a decision by Basin Electric Power in South Dakota to pull plans for a new coal-fired power plant, the Intermountain Power coal plant in Utah became the 100th prevented coal plant. The decision marks a significant milestone in the shift to clean energy.

“The shift has clearly started toward a cleaner, healthier, more secure future,” said Tiffany Hartung, Associate Regional Representative for the Sierra Club in Royal Oak. “The decisions not to pursue three plants in Michigan already have opened the path for our state to be a vital part of a new economy powered by clean energy. But that path could be blocked if Consumers Energy, Wolverine Power Supply and Holland Board of Public Works are allowed to build their proposed plants.”

For the past six years the Sierra Club and its allies have been running a hard-hitting campaign to expose the dirty truth about coal. Tremendous grassroots pressure, rising costs, and upcoming federal carbon regulations all contributed to the demise of the 100 plants. In Michigan the Clean Energy Now coalition has turned out hundreds of volunteers to public hearings, held rallies and met with officials to push for cleaner alternatives to the eight proposed coal plants proposed during the past two years. Governor Granholm has responded to these concerns by requiring that these plants show whether alternatives to coal, including energy efficiency, would meet Michigan’s needs better than building expensive, dirty new coal plants.

The proposed Consumers Energy Karn Weadock Plant expansion, the Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative proposed Rogers City plant and the Holland Board of Public Works proposed plant expansion would add more than 8,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year, more than 100 pounds of mercury, and more than 1,500 tons of lung damaging soot. These plants would not only damage the Great Lakes, Michigan’s fisheries and the health of young and old living nearby, they would take away funds for investment in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy sources with job creation in Michigan.

"The growing opposition to the remaining six coal plant proposals* in Michigan is just one part of a growing nationwide movement,” said Lee Sprague, Sierra Club Michigan Clean Energy Campaign Manager. “It’s clear that the American people are ready for a switch to the clean energy technologies that can help repower our economy.”

That movement has kept well over 400 million tons of harmful global warming pollution out of the air annually, making significant progress in the fight against global warming. Stopping 100 new coal plants has also kept thousands of tons of asthma causing soot and smog pollution, as well as toxins like mercury out of our air and water.

As the new coal rush ends in many states the Sierra Club is working to replace existing dirty and unreliable coal plants that are large contributors to health harming soot, smog and mercury pollution with cleaner energy options that create more jobs.

“The coal industry right here in Michigan is still pushing forward with plans for a half dozen new plants and pouring money into slick advertising campaigns and lobbying efforts in Lansing and statewide,” said Jan O’Connell, Sierra Club Energy Issues Organizer in Grand Rapids. “So while the coal rush may be entering a new phase in some parts of the country, it is far from over here.”

For more, visit www.sierraclub.org/100coalplants .
For more about what’s happening in Michigan visit Clean Energy Now and Stop the MichiganCoal Rush

* In addition to Consumers Energy Karn Weadock, Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative and Holland Board of Public Works, three other plant proposals have yet to be cancelled: Lansing Board of Water and Light, Alma M&M Energy, and Tondu’s Filer Township plant expansion proposal.
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May 18, 2009

VICTORY!! NMU "voids" Air Permit for Proposed Coal Heating Cogeneration Plant


Sierra Club applauds Northern Michigan University's decision to "void" its state-issued air pollution permit for a coal and wood fired heating and cogeneration plant on campus. The decision came after Sierra Club successfully appealed the permit issued a year ago by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The appeal led the USEPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) to remand the permit back to the state agency to correct several deficiencies, most notably the failure to control carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, two potent greenhouse gases.

The NMU decision to drop coal as part of its fuel mix in the heating plant makes it the 97th coal plant canceled in the USA since 2001. The university's decision to abandon coal is much more consistent with their efforts to move the campus forward with green technologies and energy efficiency. NMU became a member of the US Green Building Council in 2004 and in 2006 its Meyland Hall became the first LEED Certified building at any Michigan university as well as the first in the Upper Peninsula. NMU staff began researching possible wind and solar energy applications for the campus following the Sierra Club's successful appeal of the permit. 

May 1, 2009

VICTORY! LS Power Midland Coal Plant Shelved

Sierra Club and Clean Energy Now Allies Cheer Clean Energy Opportunities!


LS Power announced May 1st it is abandoning plans for MidMichigan Energy, a massive coal plant near Midland, Michigan. This plant would have emitted more than 4.4 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of adding 800,000 cars onto our highways.

The plant is the 97th to be defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the 2001 coal rush, and the third to be dropped by LS Power since the January 2009 dissolution of the company's partnership with Dynegy. Together Dynegy and LS Power were the largest new coal plant developers in the Nation.

Under a year long campaign by the Sierra Club and its allies, Dynegy dropped its plans to develop a host of new coal plants; and without Dynegy's support LS Power has only two coal plants still working through the permitting process, having already abandoned plans for coal plants in Iowa, Virginia, South Carolina and Nevada.

"As LS Power and other companies across the country have realized, with the election of President Obama and his commitment to clean energy and tackling global warming, our energy future is changing," said Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "Clean energy, such as wind, solar and energy efficiency, is where the future lies. The wind industry now employs more workers than coal mining. Clean solutions are the best investment for shareholders, ratepayers and job seekers."

Clean Energy Now, a leading coalition of environmental and watchdog groups, praised Midland area activists for successfully blocking the development of a new dirty coal plant in their community. The suspension of the coal-plant permit application is a boost for clean energy jobs in Michigan.

Due in large part to pressure from members of Midland CARES, Sierra Club and other Clean Energy Now members, Mid-Michigan Energy announced today that it is suspending its efforts to build a 750-megawatt coal-fired plant, the Saginaw News reported. The plant was scheduled to open in 2012.

“This is a great opportunity for new, clean, alternative energy companies to locate in Michigan and our region,” said Midland CARES member Nancy Janoch. “We need Michigan made jobs and Michigan made energy and this victory helps to move us in that direction.”

“It’s critical that local activists like members of Midland CARES continue the fight to protect Michigan families,” said Anne Woiwode of Sierra Club. “With the help and commitment of citizens, we can finally begin phasing out coal-fired power plants and move our state toward clean, renewable sources of energy.”

Through grassroots activism and public pressure, Midland CARES worked around-the-clock to educate their neighbors about the environmental health and economic disadvantages of building new coal plants.

“Nationally, we are moving to a clean energy economy. The plant cancelation offers an opportunity for communities in mid-Michigan to move back into step with the rest of the country rather than being left behind for the next half-century with a reliance on a dirty and antiquated energy source,” Shannon Fisk of the National Resources Defense Council. “Thanks to the efforts of Midland CARES, we are one step closer to realizing that goal.” 

April 2, 2009

72 Lawmakers Unite Behind Dirty, Expensive Coal

Seventy-two lawmakers (some of them being strong, clean energy supporters) have united behind dirty, expensive coal. Why? This is the question that needs to be asked of the legislators who signed a letter to Governor Granholm on March 19.

The letter, written by House Speaker Andy Dillon and Minority Leader Kevin Elsenheimer, urges Granholm to allow the construction of one or more coal-fired power plants in Michigan – despite the fact that coal-fired power plants are unneeded, extremely expensive, add to global warming pollution and fail to create sustainable, long-term jobs. In other words, coal plants are a waste of our money. Yet more than half of the members of the House of Representatives seem to want to do just that – to allow our scarce financial resources to go up in flames.

In her State of the State address, governor Granholm announced a critically important executive order to protect Michigan citizens from expensive and unnecessary energy costs. Executive Order 2009-2 requires all proposals for dirty coal-fired power plants, to be re-analyzed to first prove there is a need for the power, and then to prove there are not any cleaner, cheaper and better alternatives to meet that need. This ensures that Michigan citizens get the best deal for their energy dollar. Without this requirement, companies like Consumers Energy could dramatically increase residential ratepayers’ electric bills to pay for dirty, unneeded power -- and we'll have no choice but to pay for it.

Granholm’s action is in alignment with a package of energy bills passed by the legislature last year affecting Michigan’s two major utilities, DTE and Consumers Energy. The legislation ensures that proposed energy investments are needed, cost-effective, adequately protect the environment and create the most jobs. Her executive order imposes the same requirement on other energy providers like Lansing Board of Water and Light, Holland Board of Public Works, Wolverine Power Cooperative and others.

The executive order helps ensure that we invest first in clean, alternative energy such as wind, solar and energy efficiency – which create far more jobs, dramatically reduces financial risk and costs, and doesn’t pollute. And not building new, dirty coal plants will keep jobs here in Michigan, instead of shipping trainloads of money to mining companies to buy coal for these polluting plants.

However, the letter signed by the 72 House members urges Governor Granholm to rescind her order and allow the permitting and construction of coal-fired power plants. Four coal plants are currently waiting in line for permission to be constructed and then pollute.

Lawmakers who signed the letter need to be asked “WHY?”
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February 24, 2009

AG tortures law in opinion aiming to block Michigan’s progress toward clean energy jobs


Press Statement

Contact: 
James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-256-0553 
Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club: 517-974-2112 
Hugh McDiarmid Jr., Michigan Environmental Council: 248-660-4300

Cox opposes legislature’s intent to provide “feasible and prudent” analysis of state’s energy options

A new era of clean energy jobs and economic development in Michigan has been needlessly delayed by Attorney General Mike Cox’s tortured interpretation of state laws regarding public health and the environment, according to the Michigan Environmental Council and the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter.

In an opinion released last week, Cox echoes the position of the state’s coal lobby. They, and Cox, contend that it is illegal for Gov. Jennifer Granholm to require the most “feasible and prudent” energy technologies power Michigan’s future. The opinion attempts to block a transition from expensive, dirty coal-fired power to cheaper energy efficiency and cleaner renewable energy.

The losers, if Cox and the coal interests prevail, will be Michigan families who will continue to pay billions each year for out-of-state coal imports rather than creating Michigan jobs for manufacturers and installers of energy efficiency products and renewable energy components like wind turbines.

“The governor’s recent executive directive requires that proposed coal plants compete – on cost and on protection of public health and the environment – against other alternatives like efficiency programs and renewable power,” said Anne Woiwode of the Sierra Club. “Since coal plants won’t win in a competitive marketplace, their backers are desperate to maintain the near- monopoly they’ve enjoyed for more than a century.”

Cox’s opinion takes the position that Granholm overstepped her authority by requiring coal power plant developers to consider other methods to meet electricity demand.

But the plain language of energy laws passed by the state legislature last fall makes clear the intent of the state’s energy policy to require thorough analysis of alternatives to coal by public utilities. Granholm’s directive applies the same standard to all electric providers.

“We believe the governor’s directive is entirely consistent with both the legislation passed last fall, and all environmental laws,” said James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council. “As
a state, we need to move forward toward considering renewable energy and efficiency programs, not stand still with century old coal technology.” 

February 20, 2009

Flawed coal plant permit sent back to drawing board, must consider CO2

Contact: Anne Woiwode 517-484-2372

EPA Rejects NMU Coal Plant, Protects Upper Peninsula Jobs and Future


LANSING – In a decision released yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected Northern Michigan University’s air permit for its proposed coal plant in Marquette, a decision that shifts Michigan’s priorities away from coal and toward renewable energy and 21st century jobs.

Along with identifying several deficiencies, the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board ruling ordered Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality to consider regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“This is a yet another clear signal that pollution from coal plants, especially global warming pollution, can no longer be ignored. The increased costs that will come from impending carbon regulations will make coal much more expensive than cleaner energy alternatives, like wind and efficiency,” said Anne Woiwode, Michigan Sierra Club State Director. “The writing is on the wall; Michigan needs to start moving away from coal if we want to be a player in the 21st century clean energy economy.”

NMU’s proposal was the first of an overwhelming eight proposed coal plants in the state and the first coal plant to receive an air permit from Michigan regulators in more than 20 years. Permits for other coal plants— many of them containing the same air quality flaws as the NMU permit— have been put on hold as a result of Governor Granholm’s clean energy executive directive released earlier this month. The directive pauses the coal rush to allow time for the state to take a hard look at cleaner energy technologies available.

“This decision makes it clear that following business-as-usual approaches like new coal plants is no longer an option,” according to Lee Sprague, Sierra Club’s Clean Energy Campaign Manager. “Thanks to Governor Granholm’s actions our state is already poised to move beyond dirty coal to newer, cleaner, more efficient energy technologies that can help both our economy and our climate recover.”

EPA’s decision to reject the NMU plant is consistent with its decision last fall to deny a proposed coal plant in Utah that also failed to consider carbon dioxide limits. It comes on the heels of Lisa Jackson, President Obama’s EPA Administrator, announcing earlier this week the agency will reconsider a memorandum issued in the final days of the Bush Administration which sought to prohibit global warming pollution controls.

“Yesterday’s rejection of the NMU coal plant is further evidence that change has come, science is back, and greenhouse gas regulations are coming very soon,” said James Gignac, Midwest
Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

The Environmental Appeals Board decision is at:
http://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/EAB_Web_Docket.nsf/Recent~Additions/06DBEC31EBFD8C3
E852575620052318B/$File/Denying%20and%20Remanding...79.pdf
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February 3, 2009

Granholm Slams Brakes on Michigan Coal Rush


Governor positions Michigan to lead on clean, alternative energy


February 3, 2009 (LANSING) – Citizens today applauded Gov. Jennifer Granholm's far-reaching announcement to fundamentally change how Michigan fuels its energy needs. The new plan, which prioritizes clean energy has put Michigan's coal rush on hold, requiring all new and expanded coal plant developers to go back to the drawing board and consider cleaner energy alternatives to the coal plants. The plan also calls for slashing Michigan's use of all fossil fuels in power plants by 45 percent within 12 years. Granholm also announced sweeping new policies to make Michigan a leader in the development and production of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, both of which are engines of job growth in a 21st century economy.

"Today, Gov. Jennifer Granholm laid out a bold vision for our energy future," Anne Woiwode of the Sierra Club said. "Michigan is ready and able to build a strong future based on clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, not outdated, 1950s-era polluting coal plants. Today's action sends a clear message that we will put our families, public health and the ability to compete for 21st century jobs before devotion to the failing status-quo."

In her State of the State address today, Granholm said Michigan will more stringently apply section 165 of the federal Clean Air Act to crack down on new coal projects by requiring them to follow tough anti- pollution standards. Energy projects must consider clean alternatives before they can proceed with permitting.

Granholm's sweeping announcement positions Michigan to become a leader in 21st century energy policy. In addition to the crackdown on coal, she challenged Michigan to become a leader in renewable energy technology and investments, including in areas such as solar, wind and new battery technology.

Granholm also called for Michigan to weatherize more than 100,000 homes and 1,000 schools, which will create jobs and save consumers money.

"Michigan took a crucial step today toward breaking away from the past and moving toward the future of clean, renewable energy," Cyndi Roper of Clean Water Action said. "Michigan is opening 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."

While other states are rapidly moving away from coal, Michigan was facing up to eight new coal plant proposals, threatening to hold the state back from its clean energy economic potential. Federal rulings and policy have also veered in recent months away from coal, indicating a strong shift toward cracking down on greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide pollution and increasing investments in alternative energy.

"Governor Granholm's bold vision for promoting clean energy and stopping dirty energy sources could have significant positive, preventative impacts on the health of Michigan residents for years to come," said Dr. Kenneth Rosenman, Chief of MSU's Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. "Michigan's children, in particular, will be able to breathe a little easier once Michigan's energy future takes this dramatic turn toward cleaner sources outlined by the Governor."

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.

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Thanks to Progress Michigan for their assistance with this press update