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.

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.

June 16, 2011

House to Governor: We’re cutting Great Lakes protection and giving your authority to Washington!

CONTACT:
                  James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-256-0553
                  Ryan Werder, Michigan League of Conservation Voters: 313-444-9373
                  Mike Berkowitz,  Sierra Club Michigan Chapter: 517 484-2372 x13  
                  Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action: 517-203-0754

 House to Governor: We’re cutting Great Lakes protection
and giving your authority to Washington!

Bill reduces, transfers Michigan’s authority to manage fresh water

(Lansing, June 16) Michigan’s governor would be stripped of powers to protect the Great Lakes under legislation approved by the state House of Representatives today.

HB 4326 would prohibit a state agency from adopting a rule more stringent than federal standards unless specifically authorized by state statute. The bill – ostensibly designed to reduce regulations – reduces protections for the Great Lakes and undermines the power of Michigan’s governor to act decisively to protect them.

"This bill sends a simple message: The Michigan House thinks the Great Lakes aren’t worth protecting," said Anne Woiwode, state director of the Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter. "They’re saying Michigan is the same as Mississippi or Arizona, and that is just wrong."

James Clift, policy director with the Michigan Environmental Council, said Michigan has a unique role as stewards of the Earth’s greatest freshwater resource. This legislation would be an abdication of that role.

"Federal rules are designed to be a floor, not a ceiling, for protecting key natural resources like our lakes," said Clift. "Yet this House vote indicates they believe that Michigan’s freshwater seas should be protected with the same one-size-fits-all rules they use in every other state."

Great Lakes advocates point out that the Michigan Legislature already has the authority to strike down any rule made by a Michigan governor’s administration.

"The legislature is already the final word on regulations," said Cyndi Roper, Michigan director for Clean Water Action. "But now they’re aiming to take away the governor’s authority to issue rules in the first place. It’s an attack on the governor, on future governors, and on the natural resources of Michigan."

The governor’s rulemaking authority was most famously used in 1976 to help restore a dying Lake Erie. Gov. William Milliken’s administration restricted phosphorus in dishwashing detergent – a pioneering step that helped pave the way for the recovery of Lake Erie.

"As Michiganders know better than anyone, the Great Lakes are the economic and recreational heart of our state. Signing away Michigan's unique ability to protect them is nothing short of foolish," said Ryan Werder, political director with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.