March 4, 2015

Sierra Club Announces Intent of Sue Lansing Board of Water and Light for 3,500 Violations of Clean Air Act

LBWL has failed to act for nearly a year since Sierra Club put utility on notice

LANSING, Michigan -- At a press event today, Sierra Club officials made public a letter and notice of intent to sue Lansing Board of Water & Light (LBWL) for its more than 3,500 self-reported violations of the federal Clean Air Act at the utility’s Erickson and Eckert coal plants. LBWL has not acted to correct these violations for nearly a year since receiving the Sierra Club’s notice, posing a serious threat to the community’s health.The Clean Air Act provides for civil penalties of up to $37,500 per violation.

“The people of Lansing own this utility, and they deserve to know how it’s operating,” said Anne Woiwode, conservation director for the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter. “Lansing Board of Water & Light officials have known about these violations for years, but have failed to address them. It’s time to face this pollution problem and create a responsible plan to transition away from these polluting, aging coal plants.”

Air pollution from burning coal triggers respiratory problems like asthma attacks, nervous system disorders, and cardiovascular problems. Over time, exposure can lead to permanent lung damage and even premature death. The Lansing neighborhoods in close proximity to the LBWL plants experience the highest asthma hospitalization rates, according to the Ingham County Health Department.

The Sierra Club estimates that LBWL is polluting more sulfur dioxide per unit of electricity than the whole fleet of coal plants operated by DTE, ranked No 1. among the top 100 nationwide power producers for sulfur pollution per unit of electricity, according to a 2014 CERES report (the methodology of which Sierra Club used in its calculations).

“It’s staggering to think that these coal plants pollute at a rate that outpaces one of the worst corporate polluters in the country,” said Regina Strong, director of the Beyond Coal Campaign in Michigan. “The board of commissioners should choose to replace these coal-burning plants with Michigan-based renewable energy that doesn't endanger our air.

For more information on the impacts of LBWL’s pollution and a computer modeled map showing its potential reach, click here.