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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Trees are not the solution to our electricity needs




By Marvin Roberson

There is a lot of concern in Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula, about meeting future electrical needs. Many aging, polluting coal plants are soon to go offline, as they should. New coal plants are unlikely to replace them, and would be a poor choice even if feasible.
There is, and should be, significant focus on energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity. A portion of our future needs is likely to be met through biomass electricity generation. Biomass electricity is generated by burning plants.
Biomass can come from a variety of sources. Switch grass, waste wood, corn stalk residues and the like all may be burned to generate electricity. Standing timber (live trees cut down for the purpose of burning them) can also be used — and in our state, that’s the primary form of biomass available. In Michigan, with its vast forests, many people naturally think of this resource as an opportunity to generate green, renewable power.
This is a mistake.  More ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Put Michigan families before business and pollution

May 9, 2014
A fence separates Salina Elementary School from a sprawling Industrial area in Dearborn on Thursday, April 23, 2014. Residents in Dearborn feel and smell the pollution from the plants in the Industrial zone where Severstal steel. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. worked with Severstal and Dearborn officials to lobby the DEQ to allow the steel plant to operate under older, less strict air pollution regulations. Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press

A fence separates Salina Elementary School from a sprawling Industrial area in Dearborn on Thursday, April 23, 2014. Residents in Dearborn feel and smell the pollution from the plants in the Industrial zone where Severstal steel. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. worked with Severstal and Dearborn officials to lobby the DEQ to allow the steel plant to operate under older, less strict air pollution regulations. Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press

Let's be clear about who Gov. Rick Snyder's allegiance should be to: the residents of Michigan.

There's no question that the state can't thrive without a healthy business environment and a robust economy. But when the health and well-being of businesses and residents are in conflict, residents should win. Hands down. Every time.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Snyder doesn’t understand that.

Look at the most recent outrageous display of backroom pandering to emerge from the Snyder administration: E-mails obtained by the Free Press show that the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Snyder’s business development agency, seemingly worked to smooth the path for a high-polluting industrial plant that wants to release even more toxic air emissions.

Dearborn-based Severstal North America is “by far the most egregious facility in the state” when it comes to air quality requirements, according to an e-mail written by a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employee, with 117 complaints and more than 20 violation notices issued since 2010. That’s one reason the MDEQ strongly opposed the company’s efforts to alter its permit, which would allow Severstal to release pollutants at levels up to 725 times higher than the company’s permit allows.

Until the MEDC got involved. More ...