michigan’s rush toward coal

From an editorial in today’s Detroit Free Press:

The coal industry has launched a nationwide “coal rush” and Michigan sits at its heart, with eight new coal plants proposed for construction. As medical doctors conducting health research at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, we feel compelled to warn that construction of these plants would gravely impair Michigan’s air quality and expose our communities to severe, even lethal health impacts.

Coal plants release at least 70 different pollutants including nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and mercury. These pollutants are known carcinogens, teratogens, neurotoxins, and/or cardiopulmonary irritants…

I had no idea that there were currently 8 coal-fired power plans proposed in the state. I find that absolutely amazing, given what we know about coal’s role in global warming. I know that people like to throw around the phrase, “clean coal,” but it’s my understanding that it’s never been demonstrated, even in a laboratory setting. Just when I thought that we in Michigan couldn’t possibly do anything more to hamper our chances for future success, we decide to jump on the coal bandwagon. Other states are considering feed-in tariffs to speed the development of solar and wind projects, and here we are pushing for coal. It’s ming boggling.

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15 Comments

  1. West Cross is the Best Cross
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I am amazed there is a need for 8 new power plants in Michigan, coal or otherwise. Maybe with unemployment up there is a bigger strain on the grid from the increased Judge Judy and Price is Right watching.

  2. Posted January 7, 2009 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    If you haven’t seen it, check out this cartoon: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Christmas-cartoon-on-melting-North-Pole.html

  3. Brackache
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Is nuclear still considered worse?

  4. Dave
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    With all people leaving the state, do we really need more coal plants? I’m wondering if the new plants will be to make electricity that we ship to neighboring states. Sounds like a bad idea when we have to import the coal. We have a huge potential to make electricity from wind. Let’s sell that to our neighbors.

  5. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Nuclear isn’t worse initially necessarily. It’s fairly clean from the get-go, but there is no long-term solution to radioactive waste. And thanks to the recent spill in Tennessee, there also doesn’t seem to be a solution to long-term coal waste either. Also, there is a limit to fissionable uranium, just like everything else. If we convert en masse to nuclear power, we’ll run out of the stuff fairly quickly. And here’s the cool part: We’ll have to invade more countries to ensure a supply of it ’cause we don’t have enough here. Fun, fun, fun.

    Solar, people. SOLAR! “Sol: Frying your Blue Dot for 4.5 Billion Years”

  6. Noah
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Nice post on Michigan coal plants and the Freep op-ed. The timing was perfect – yesterday the state closed the public comment period on the first big plant to be up for a decision. Working with a ton of other great people, my Great Lakes Environmental Law Center filed a massive 178-page legal comment letter. For details and my rant on it, see today’s
    Great Lakes Law post: http://www.greatlakeslaw.org/blog.

  7. K
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of coal…

    http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/01/ash_dumps_threaten.html

  8. Robert
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    If there were just some way we could harness the stupidity.

  9. Robert
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    JL Scott could power an entire area code.

  10. Old Goat
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    The lake freighters that ply in and out of Marquette, MI use to haul away iron ore, now they haul in coal for the electric company. Little wonder that the areas job prospects are a little depressed.

  11. j7uy5
    Posted January 8, 2009 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    This is classic disaster capitalism. Wait until people are down and out, offer them a sliver of hope, for more jobs, whatever. Push through the projects that never would be approved otherwise.

    Wind power would make much more sense. True, the best spots are offshore, and bird lovers would have fits, as would all the people who paid big money for lakeside views. But the lakes would be ruined by massive coal burning, and the wildlife would suffer too.

  12. Mark
    Posted January 8, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Just another way Jenny’s going to blow us a way!!!

  13. mark
    Posted January 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    That last comment was left by a different Mark. I think I recognize the reference, though. When Governor Granholm was running for reelection, she said that we were all going to be “blown away” by the great things she had in store. Apparently we just had to give her a second term to see everything come to fruition. “Blown away,” of course, has a few different interpretations. Maybe she wasn’t lying. Maybe she meant that we’d all be killed by black lung from the coal fired plants churning out energy for other, more prosperous, communities.

  14. Robert
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Mark, it’s good that you cleared that up. When I saw Mark post as a visitor, I thought it was you trying to distance yourself from your own blog. My immediate thought was, “Sorry, buddy. The captain goes down with the ship.”

  15. John on Forest
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    This has nothing to do with our state government, except that we still have 30 year old regulations in place that favor the building of coal fired plants (at 20-30 cents/watt) vs. wind power (at >$1/watt).

    So, the state government has done nothing to cause this announcement of 8 new plants in Michigan. Of course “the government has done nothing” is the important part of that statement.

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