Friday, Sept. 30, 2011
Wolverine Coal Plant Faces New Lawsuit
Groups challenge Gov. Snyder and stop Wolverine from moving forward
LANSING - The Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit this week challenging Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to reverse the permit denial last year of an expensive and unneeded, and dangerous coal fired power plant in Rogers City.
The lawsuit, filed in Ingham County, argues that the state's permit would allow excessive emissions of mercury, acid rain precursors, particulate matter (soot) and other pollutants, as well as would fail to comply with federal requirements to use the best available technology for pollution controls. Last year, the State of Michigan rejected the same permit, saying Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative failed to show need for another coal plant. Additionally, the permit was denied because it was not shown that any new demand for power could not be met through clean energy sources, including energy efficiency, solar and wind power.
”Wolverine’s proposed coal plant would emit toxic mercury pollution into the air that will end up in our streams, lakes and eventually our bodies,” said Jean Veselenak, a resident of Presque Isle County. “We can’t afford the risk of mercury poisoning, which would put citizens and children at risk. It’s time for Governor Snyder and Wolverine to move past polluting technologies of the past.”
Citizen groups involved in the lawsuit cited extensive flaws in the air pollution permit issued by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in June 2011, and note that because the plant's power is unnecessary, the enormous amount of pollution it would emit is unjustified. These groups argue that overturning the state's newly issued permit would prevent over 6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year from the proposed plant and protect the public health of Michigan residents.
“Wolverine’s proposed coal plant is, as the Michigan Public Service Commission staff found, an unnecessary and costly mistake,” said Shannon Fisk, Senior Attorney at the Midwest Office of NRDC. “Wolverine should stop wasting its ratepayers’ money, cancel this multi-billion dollar pipe dream, and instead pursue cleaner energy sources that will create jobs and protect public health.”
Wolverine officials have continued to pursue the plant despite growing opposition from members of the retail electric cooperatives that comprise their customer base. Projections by state officials say that if built, a new coal plant would raise electric rates for cooperative members by 60 percent or more, an estimated $77 monthly increase for residential ratepayers. The same projections state that 26 percent of Wolverine's cooperative members currently live below the poverty level.
The lawsuit filed was on September 26th and assigned to Ingham County judge Rosemarie Aquilina. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (GLELC) of Detroit and Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) of Chicago are assisting the Sierra Club and NRDC in the litigation.