June 21, 2011

CEN to Snyder: Stop Wolverine’s Pricey Coal Plant

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CONTACT: Anne Woiwode (517) 484-2372
                     Tiffany Hartung  (231)747-7489  www.sierraclub.org/coal/mi
                     Facebook: Clean Energy Now     Twitter: @BeyondCoalMI

CEN to Snyder: Stop Wolverine’s Pricey Coal Plant

State has legal duty to steer utility toward cleaner sources of power

LANSING—With a decision on permitting Wolverine Power’s proposed, unneeded Rogers City coal plant just days away, Clean Energy Now (CEN), which represents more than 250,000 Michiganders, has sent a letter to Governor Rick Snyder urging him to stop the project because it will needlessly harm air quality and significantly boost customers’ electric bills.
CEN rejects the Snyder administration’s claim that a recent court decision eliminated its power to deny a plant because it is unneeded, or when, as in Wolverine’s case, cleaner and more affordable alternatives to its proposed $2 billion-plus coal-burner are readily available. The coalition is also inviting residents to sign an online petition urging the governor to stop the plant.

 “In fact, the Snyder administration does have the legal power to point Wolverine toward a cleaner alternatives to service its customers,” according to Susan Harley of Clean Water Action, a member of CEN. “They are wrong to abandon that legal power and let the company stick its 220,000 customers with much bigger power bills—and stick Michigan’s environment with dirtier air and more greenhouse gases.”

The state originally issued a denial letter for Wolverine’s permit last year because the proposed plant was unneeded. But a state court threw out the letter because it cited only “need” as the basis for its decision.

Snyder’s Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) declined to appeal and said it would only consider recent revisions to federal clean air standards when it reevaluated Wolverine’s permit, as the court had ordered.

But MDEQ and Snyder are ignoring another part of the ruling, which allows for denying a permit if, in fact, the decision directly links lack of “need” and availability of “alternatives” to better protecting air quality.

“The law is clear that MDEQ is not required to authorize unnecessary air pollution,” according to Shannon Fisk of the Natural Resources Defense Council, also a CEN member. “The governor should ensure that MDEQ uses this authority so that we can finally be done with this dirty, unnecessary, and very expensive plant. It’s still not too late to do that, and the court that overturned the original denial says it would work.”

If the plant is built, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission, it will likely raise utility bills in many rural areas of northern, central, and western Lower Michigan by about 60 percent.

“Now is not the time for allowing a new, expensive coal plant into Michigan,” said Tiffany Hartung of Sierra Club.. “The state must tell Wolverine to do the right thing—use efficiency, renewables, and other, cleaner sources of fuel to serve its customers. If that doesn’t happen, we will all pay in many different ways, including a slowdown in the steady growth of the state’s clean energy manufacturing economy.”

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Clean Energy Now is a coalition of 11 groups that supports policies that will move Michigan beyond coal power toward greater use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency as a way to protect the environment and build prosperity.