For Immediate Release
Josh Mogerman, NRDC, 312-651-7909;
Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club, 517-484-2372
Groups Take Action on Proposed Bay City Coal Plant
Permit fails to protect public health from unnecessary and dirty coal plant
CHICAGO, IL - Concerned environmental groups have taken
action to protect Michigan’s public health and clean energy future from
Consumers Energy’s proposed coal-fired power plant near Bay City, MI.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club challenged the
plant’s recently issued air permit for not doing enough to limit harmful
pollution and for the state’s failure to fully consider cleaner, better
alternatives for Michigan.
"Consumers’ proposed $3.57 billion coal plant is dirty,
expensive, and unneeded,” said Shannon Fisk, staff attorney for NRDC:
“And to add insult to injury, it would exacerbate the already
problematic issue of coal ash fouling Saginaw Bay. The state has the
opportunity to rebuild its economy with cutting edge energy technologies
which will create jobs and clean the air -- but that only happens if
state agencies and utility companies do the right thing. We need to
implement these cleaner, modern alternatives.”
“What Michigan needs is clean, reliable electricity, and
Consumers Energy and the state are letting us down,” said Anne Woiwode,
State Director of Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter. “We have alternatives
available to meet our state’s electric needs, create many more
good-paying jobs, and protect the health of our communities. Michigan
families can’t afford to carry the enormous burden of the state’s
failure to hold Consumers Energy accountable.”
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Consumers Energy is seeking to build a $3.57 billion, 830 MW
coal-fired power plant next to the existing Karn-Weadock generating
station on the shores of Saginaw Bay. The Michigan Department of Natural
Resources & Environment (MDNRE) issued an air pollution permit for
the proposed plant that fails to address many important issues related
to public health, such as failing to fully protect surrounding
communities from dangerous fine particulate matter that can lodge deep
inside the lungs and cause respiratory problems. The permit also fails
to do enough to limit emissions of mercury, which has been linked to
developmental problems in children.
Last year, NRDC released A Green Energy Alternative for
Michigan, showing that aggressive energy efficiency programs combined
with the potential of 27,000 GWh of power from cleaner energy
technologies can fulfill the state’s power needs. The state failed to
properly evaluate these cleaner and more technologically advanced
solutions in choosing to move the Consumers coal project forward.
Although Consumers agreed to retire some existing coal-fired power
generation by the end of 2017 as a condition to the permit, those aging
plants were likely to be retired anyway, making this agreement little
more than an empty shell.
Beyond the air pollution issues, concern has been raised
about the additional pollution created by the coal ash resulting from
the new plant’s operations. According to the Bay City Times and state
records, the two ash landfills at Karn-Weadock have been leaking toxics
to Saginaw Bay for years, in excess of state standards meant to protect
aquatic organisms, drinking water and public health. It is estimated
that the new plant would create up to an additional 210,000 tons of
dangerous coal ash waste annually.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.