Push for DEQ to protect Michiganders’ health, stop phony awards
LANSING – Clean energy advocates are speaking out after DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and Holland Board of Public Works coal plants today received “Neighborhood Environmental Partners Awards” from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The advocates want to know why the DEQ is patting bad actors and notorious polluters on the back and letting its mission to protect the health and safety of Michigan residents fall to the wayside.
“If these were trophies for dangerous and poisonous polluters, then these companies should win hands down,” said Tiffany Hartung with Sierra Club, “but they should not be honored for being neighborhood environmental partners. There is evidence that these coal plants are pouring toxins into nearby waterways, harming Michigan residents. The DEQ should be giving out awards to clean energy leaders, instead. Clean energy is cheaper to produce, creates good jobs in Michigan, and, most importantly, does not endanger our health. Families should be the winners here, not polluters."
The three DEQ honorees are Consumers Energy’s J.R. Whiting coal plant, DTE Energy’s Monroe coal plant, and the Holland Board of Public Works’ James DeYoung plant. According to the DEQ, the Neighborhood Environmental Partners program was developed to recognize facilities for “work on local projects that benefit their communities and the environment.”
Topping the award list is one of the state’s biggest polluters, the DTE Monroe coal plant. The plant is the largest emitter of toxic mercury pollution in Michigan; in 2010 the US Environmental Protection Agency took DTE to court for failing to install modern pollution controls.
Holland’s DeYoung power station sulfur dioxide pollution threatens Holland residents with emissions that are 3.5 times the public-health based ambient standard; while Consumers’ Whiting facility is one of the coal ash sites in the state that already has been shown to cause damage to the environment.
“DEQ should stop handing out shoddy awards to big polluters and prioritize creating a healthy Michigan by protecting communities and our natural resources,” said Susan Harley with Clean Water Action. ”Dirty energy extracts a price too high for Michiganders to shoulder. These dirty coal plants are hurting our families, our children and, most importantly, our future.”
The Michigan Environmental Council recently reported that Michigan’s coal plants cost a family of four an average of more than $500 a year in health expenses and damages, including hospital admissions, premature death, asthma treatments, respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems and more. The total price tag, MEC research revealed, is about $1.5 billion annually in health care costs.
About Clean Energy Now: CEN is a coalition of 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. Follow the campaign at www.cleanenergynowmi.org.