Monday, April 15th 2013
Utility ignores coal’s costly health problems in push for dirtier air
DETROIT – Members of Clean Energy Now (CEN) are urging DTE Energy to stop pushing Congress to roll back air pollution rules for its aging coal-fired power plants.
DTE has posted an online petition, entitled “Keep Our Power Affordable,” calling on U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D) and Senator Levin (D) to loosen existing federal limits on coal plant pollution set by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which include the neurotoxin mercury, other heavy metals, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, and particulate matter--all tied to serious health effects. The company claims the pollution rules cost too much money.
“It’s shameful to think DTE would try to mislead Michigan residents under the guise of saving money,” said Eric Keller with Clean Water Action. “If DTE gets its way, and sticks with dirty coal, we’ll pay more for health care instead of paying less for electricity by investing in less-expensive renewable energy and the world’s cheapest power source--energy efficiency.”
Studies show renewable energy sources like wind and dramatically step up its investment in customer energy efficiency, and saving on utility costs. Health advocates know there is a greater cost on Michigan residents’ health by using coal as a power source.
“As a nurse, I know the high human cost our residents suffer from the use of outdated, dirty coal for our energy,” said Joyce Stein, a registered nurse at the University of Michigan Health System. “The dirty air and water produced by coal-fired plants can cause higher rates of asthma, lung disease and other illnesses, especially in children, and contributes to hundreds of deaths. DTE’s efforts to stop the EPA from enforcing scientific pollution standards will only put more lives at risk.”
According to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, DTE’s Belle River, River Rouge, St. Clair and Trenton Channel coal-fired power plants collectively contribute to 267 premature deaths, 434 heart attacks and 4,180 asthma attacks each year. The Sierra Club has filed suit against the company for more than 1,400 Clean Air Act violations at its aging coal plants--violations that can harm public health.
“The Sierra Club is pursuing its lawsuit because 1,400 Clean Air Act violations are appalling,” said Brad van Guilder with Sierra Club. “DTE shouldn’t get a ‘get out of jail free’ card for these violations. It’s time for the utility to start taking responsibility for the negative health effects of coal pollution. We’re calling on DTE to make clean, renewable energy a priority to save ratepayers’ money and protect their health.”
DTE draws 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants--one of the highest percentages in the state. The rising cost of coal in Michigan has pushed up DTE’s rates and made Michigan the Midwest’s most expensive power market.
Meanwhile, studies continue to confirm that clean sources of energy like wind and solar--and efficiency projects for homes and businesses--have created thousands of jobs in Michigan. Moving away from coal power and toward more renewables and efficiency would create many more good-paying, non-exportable jobs.
“It’s obvious DTE has more interest in defending its outmoded business model than in behaving more responsibly, embracing the change that’s sweeping the energy world, and boosting investments in affordable renewable energy,” said Nicole O’Brien, ratepayer and concerned resident from Lake Orion. “Now is the time for DTE to leave coal in the past and help lead Michigan toward a clean, more prosperous energy future.”
DTE “Keep Power Affordable” link- http://www.
Clean Energy Now petition to transition to clean energy: www.cleanenergynowmi.org/take-
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