February 3, 2011

Citizens Urge Snyder Administration to Block Flawed Rogers City Coal Permit

February 3, 2011

Citizens Urge Snyder Administration to Block Flawed Rogers City Coal Permit

Groups Call on Wolverine Power to Protect Ratepayers By
Cancelling Unnecessary $ 2 Billion Coal Plant

LANSING – Citizens groups today called on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment to block Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative’s proposed Rogers City coal plant. The groups said blocking the coal plant will protect Michigan’s environment, public health and ratepayers throughout the northern Lower Peninsula who may be saddled with massive, unneeded electric rate hikes.

The groups noted that the state is declining to stand up for an earlier DNRE decision to deny an air permit to Wolverine.  A recent court decision said the DNRE failed to base its permit denial on specific air quality concerns.  DNRE can and should correct that error in denying the permit again or, if the agency decides to issue a permit for the unnecessary plant, it must apply stringent new limits for greenhouse gases and other pollutants that threaten public health.

“Wolverine Power’s permit application ought to be denied for a long laundry list of reasons,” said Anne Woiwode, Director of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The DNRE should not act like a rubber stamp for Big Coal. The best way for the DNRE to prove that it puts people ahead of Big Coal profits is to stand by its original decision, deny Wolverine’s permit based on the overwhelming documentation and stop coal plants from proliferating in Michigan.”

While the DNRE has said they will not appeal the decision, it will comply with the court’s remand of the permit to the agency for additional consideration and a decision on whether to issue or deny the permit.  Thousands of Michigan citizens have voiced opposition to new coal plants such as the one in Rogers City. Building new coal plants would saddle ratepayers with the cost of those new facilities, even though there is no need for new coal plants in Michigan and future energy demands can be met with renewable energy sources and increased energy efficiency.

If Wolverine built the unneeded coal plant in Rogers City, ratepayers’ bills would go up an estimated $76 a month to pay for the coal plant that wouldn’t be needed. In fact, Wolverine has already spent $22 million of co-op owner members’ money on the proposed coal plant which could be put on the backs of ratepayers.

"Wolverine and it’s member co-ops, Great Lakes Energy, Cherryland Electric, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric and Presque Isle Electric & Gas, have a chance to cut their losses now and move forward," said PIE&G member Wayne Vermilya of Onaway.  "It’s time for Wolverine and it’s co-op members to move on toward lower cost options, like energy efficiency and clean energy, that will create good Michigan jobs and help co-op members keep paying their bills."

A new coal plant will also worsen air pollution, increase dangerous emissions such as mercury and carbon dioxide, and harm public health. The Rogers City coal project could also open the door to a landfill quarry for coal ash, an additional danger to public health.

“We urge the DNRE to stand up for families in northeast Michigan, who want clean energy jobs and healthy air, not more coal plant pollution” said Shannon Fisk, senior attorney at the Midwest Office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Missaukee County court’s ruling allows DNRE to reject unnecessary coal plant pollution due to specific air quality concerns, and we urge the agency to do so here.”