June 29, 2011

Citizens Criticize Snyder for Allowing Controversial Rogers City Coal Plant to Move Forward

Citizens Criticize Snyder for Allowing Controversial Rogers City Coal Plant to Move Forward

June 29, ROGERS CITY – Citizens groups today criticized the Snyder Administration for giving the green light for the construction of a highly controversial coal plant in Rogers City, saying the decision will raise costs for ratepayers who are already struggling financially and hurt public health.

In 2010, the State of Michigan said Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, which wants to build the plant, failed to show Michigan needed another coal plant to meet energy demand.
"Gov. Rick Snyder is blindly approving a dirty coal plant without considering the high cost to ratepayers and its impact on people’s health and safety," said Wayne Vermilya, from Onaway, MI "The people of Michigan have said time and time again that they do not want another coal plant. By refusing to listen to Michigan citizens, Gov. Snyder is showing that he puts Big Coal profits ahead of people’s well-being."

"This decision not only showcases the shortcomings of our permitting process and poor understanding of ‘air-quality,’ but also the Snyder Administration’s ignorance on Michigan's energy issues and job creation," said Ric Evans, a candidate for director on the Great Lakes Energy Co-op board, which is a member of the Wolverine cooperative. "There is considerably more job growth potential in energy efficiency, weatherization and clean energy technologies than any antiquated coal plant could ever produce, and for a fraction of the cost. While this decision is not all that surprising, it is still incredibly unfortunate for the people of Michigan, and especially for the folks downwind of this plant – and ultimately, we are ALL downwind of this plant."

Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative wants to build a new $2-billion dirty coal plant that will financially burden Wolverine’s 200,000 co-op members, 26 percent of whom live below the poverty line.

In 2010, the State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources and Energy rejected a permit for Wolverine to build a coal plant in Rogers City. The DNRE said Wolverine failed to show Michigan needed another coal plant and found that any new demand for energy could be met by clean energy sources. If Wolverine built the 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. Today’s decision by the Department of Environmental Quality effectively allows Wolverine to move forward anyway and build the coal plant.

"More coal will only send us backwards on clean energy and energy efficiency, which are the real engines of job growth across the nation and globally – not more coal," Anne Woiode, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter director said. "The citizens of Rogers City and across Michigan are united in calling on large utilities to stop building coal plants and start investing more clean energy and energy efficiency. Gov. Rick Snyder is moving Michigan backwards, not forward, with this reckless decision."

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.
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.