About the EPA Lawsuit Against DTE

On August 5, 2010, the U.S. EPA sued DTE Energy, seeking to halt an EXPANSION to a coal-fired electric plant that the government says will worsen air pollution in Michigan. The lawsuit alleges DTE made major modifications in March 2010 to Unit 2 at its Monroe Power Plant without first obtaining necessary approvals. The $30 million overhaul was made without installing, as required under the New Source Review (NSR) requirements of the Clean Air Act, the best available technology to minimize emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides — pollutants that harm human health by contributing to heart attacks, breathing problems, and other health, the suit alleges. The lawsuit alleges the Monroe plant is already the largest individual source of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in the state and “this modification resulted in significant net emission increases.”

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Monroe_Power_Plant#August_2010:_EPA_sues_DTE_over_plant
_modifications
.

Freep.com stated:

The government said DTE conducted a $65-million overhaul of Monroe Unit 2, one of four generators at the facility, earlier this year without obtaining the necessary pollution permits or installing the best pollution controls. As a result, large amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide will be released into the air, the agency said in the suit. It asked U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to enjoin DTE from operating Unit 2 until it complies with the Clean Air Act and fine the firm up to $37,500 per day for violations.

http://www.freep.com/article/20100806/BUSINESS06/8060312/EPA-sues-DTE-to-stop-a-generator#ixzz0w1utbiyX.

According to Michigan Messenger: “The EPA suit charges that in March of this year DTE began a months-long project to refurbish the boilers in use at the plant since the 70s. The EPA says that the boiler replacements amount to a major overhaul that cost about $65 million and was “unpredicted” in the life of the plant.”

http://michiganmessenger.com/40655/epa-files-federal-lawsuit-against-dte-energy

Part of the alleged problem with the Monroe Plant expansion stems from the same thing I blogged about back in April, 08. I complained that Michigan had lax CO2 laws. Back then Michigan would still issue a permit to a utility company to expand or build a new coal fired plant if it met requirements to capture a percentage of pollutants in its existing plant. My complaint was that pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and CO2 were all lumped together as pollutants. To get around the permitting process all a coal plant needed to do was lower their sulfur and NOX emissions. My words:”Why the rush to put scrubbers on coal plants now if not to apply for permits, and before the rules change?” Considering the Monroe plant was completed in 1974 and scrubber technology was around since the 70’s one has to wonder. It appears the installation of the scrubbers at such a late date on an old plant was an attempt to grandfather the legal right to keep emitting CO2 before new pollutions controls for coalburners went into effect in 2009.

The Sierra Club came to the same conclusion, “Weak regulations and expected federal limits on the emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have led to a rush to get coal plants approved in Michigan now, even though the state won’t need any additional electric generating capacity for many years.”

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/04/dte-indicates-no-growth-in-demand-for-electricity-in-michigan-through-2012/.

http://www.michigan.sierraclub.org/issues/cleanenergy/coalfired
powerplants.html
.

The grandfather rights to pollute may not be ironclad. New rules apply and first off is a problem with retrofitting older plants. Based on an analysis of EPA data, the study finds:

The nation’s power plants are dirty as well as old — and that those two characteristics tend to go hand in hand. Two-thirds of the nation’s fossil-fuel-generated electricity comes from plants built before 1980. At the same time, those older facilities produced 73% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The report found that for each year older a coal generator is on average, it created 0.001 more tons of CO2 for each Megawatt-hour of electricity it produced in 2007.

http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/12/aging-coal-plants-take-a-heavy-environmental-toll.html.

Another problem is proving need for more electricity before expanding or building a new coal burner. The state’s Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) is allowed to determine this thanks to our House of Reps. The MI Senate proposed a bill to block that right by the DNRE. The permit for denial of the Bay City project is an example that there is no need for more electricity in MI. The project is now on hold due to lack of electricity need. DTE’s own research revealed no increase in electricity supply through 2012. But other studies put it at a much later date considering loss of population in Michigan. A report by a state agency says there will be no new demand for electricity in Michigan until 2022.

http://michiganmessenger.com/38269/consumers-energy-puts-new-coal-plant-on-hold.

http://quitcoal.com/.

There is also the stated problem of not using the best available technology (BACT) to minimize emissions of sulfur and nitrogen dioxide as part of the requirements of the Clean Air Act. DTE claims the scrubbers are top notch, however, they evidently do not fall within the standards set by the top 12% of coalburners in its class. An article on Financial Times/ft.com:

The legal instrument for this is the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) provisions of the CAA. Essentially, they will require coal utilities to reduce their emissions of hazardous pollutants, as defined by the EPA, to the levels achieved by the best 12 per cent of plants in their class. Once an industry rule comes down, each “source”, or plant, has three years, with one year of allowed extensions, to bring their emission levels down to the standard.

The Michigan Messenger reported: “Monroe’s unit 2 emitted 27,320 tons of sulfur and 8,205 tons of nitrogen oxide just last year and predicts that by 2013, unit 2 will emit 33,816 tons of SO2 and 14,494 tons of NOX.”

Monroe Power Plant began operating two flue gas desulfurization systems, the first in June and the second in November 2009. DTE Energy said the scrubbers reduce Unit 3’s sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 97 percent and mercury emissions by 80 to 90 percent. Unit 4 had similar reductions when the first FGD began operating. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology was also installed on three of the plant’s generating units, reportedly reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90 percent. Two more scrubbers and a fourth SCR will be installed at the plant. Allowed to escape–3% of sulfur, 10% nitrogen dioxide, and 10-20% mercury.

It’s a math ratio problem. Increased output by the new expansion results in an increased amount of pollution that is allowed to escape. So 23-33% worth of pollutants overall will be escaping indefinately if the grandfather clause stands. The biggest caveat is that the CO2 is not scrubbed at all. It is just flying freely at an increased rate. This explains why the EXPANSION will worsen air pollution in Michigan.

A Grist article explains the grandfathering, the math ratio, etc., quite well:

http://www.grist.org/article/The-coming-legal-fight-/.

The Michigan Messenger article continued:

S02 and NOX can combine with other elements in the air to form particulate matter known as PM 2.5. These pollutants cause harm to human health and the environment once emitted into the air, including premature death, heart attacks and lung problems.

EPA has long warned that DTE was operating its coal plants without required pollution control equipment.
In a July 24, 2009 Notice of Violation, EPA told DTE that it was failing to meet Clean Air Act regulations at its Monroe plant, and at plants in St. Clair, River Rouge, Belle River and Trenton Channel.

‘Unless restrained by an order of this Court,’ EPA charged in its complaint against DTE, ‘these and similar violations of the Act will continue.’

Finally, Michigan’s DNRE also has the right to determine if there are viable alternative sources to the electricity generated by the coal plant.

These criteria have been used to deny permits to both the Holland and Rogers City proposed coal burners. DTE will have to defend its grandfathering. DTE asserted it didn’t need permits. According to detnews.com, DTE did not seek necessary approvals and “mailed a notification letter to the state of Michigan the day before starting the project.”

DTE also asserts the Monroe Plant is among the cleanest when there are plenty of studies that place it in the top 20 dirty plants in the country like sciencedaily.com. Our air quality in Monroe doesn’t reflect a clean plant either especially when it had no scrubbers for close to 40 years. If the plant is indeed among the dirtiest and the scrubbers aren’t up to par, it may have to revamp the plant.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dbcd2e08-80b9-11df-be5a-00144feabdc0.html.
http://ncseonline.org/nle/crsreports/air/air-22.cfm.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2009/04/us-cities-recent-air-quality-reports%e2%80%94not-good/.

DTE cautions that the down time will cost customers. I complained in Feb. 08 about passing costs along—”I [] predicted that the utility companies would continue too long on their same course and then whine about the cost to reverse things and comply with new clean air policy. How soon before we hear the sob stories? So predictable. When companies have a big lobby, they throw all foresight to the wind. They don’t need to stay on the ball. They pay to change the play instead. And the taxpayer bears the brunt.”

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/02/us-court-of-appeals-gets-tough-on-epa-and-mercury-pollution/.

Customers should not bear the brunt. DTE’s union members authorized a strike just last year: “The union called for the strike authorization citing ‘out of control executive pay, profits at the expense of the consumers and bad faith bargaining.’” This sounds like the bulk of wealthy corporations with big profits that fail to create jobs but look to cut the little guy even more. Crainsdetroit.com reported:

Jim Harrison, Local 223 president, told union members DTE is trying to take its workers retirement while the company posts financial gains.

DTE is attempting to raise health care costs to union members, cut or eliminate health care coverage to retirees, and strip employment security for Local 223 workers, the union said.

‘DTE is posting huge profits. It only had to share its success with its union workers,’ Harrison said in a statement.

Some sort of settlement was reached between workers and DTE.

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20100602/FREE/100609951#.

Michigan imports most of its coal at a high price. A study by Union of Concerned Scientists ranked states relative to importing coal and compared with other states, Michigan:

Imported the 5th most in net weight: 36 million tons

Spent the 7th most on net imports: $1.36 billion that went outside of the state

Is the 9th most dependent on net imports as a share of total power use:
60 percent

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_energy/Burning-Coal-Burning-Cash_full-report.pdf.

And building or even expanding a plant that is unnecessary because electricity demand has dropped in MI ends up costing us plenty for nothing both moneywise and to our health.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/08/06/coal-fired-plants-in-trouble-with-federal-state-governments/.

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U.S. Cities Recent Air Quality Reports—Not Good

I noted before that during the previous administration there seemed to be a lack of current comprehensive air quality reports, but new reports have just been released by the American Lung Association that used the EPA’s study conducted over a recent 3-year period.

Relative to the American Lung report, an ABC news article stated: “Roughly 60 percent of Americans live in areas where air pollution has reached unhealthy levels that can make people sick, suggests the 2009 State of the Air report released today by the American Lung Association.” The study concentrated on increased levels of particulate matter, and ozone because they pose health risks. The results are not good, “Air pollution remains widespread and dangerous with nearly every major city burdened by some type of pollution from either ozone or particle pollution.” Even places that are considered pristine showed a rise in air pollutants.

The report also says that despite the “green movement” in the U.S., our air increases our health risks. I would call it more like a green crawl. The ABC article says that Americans aren’t all that concerned about air quality. Obviously not because more coalburners are going up. The general public believes dirty air is concentrated in industrialized areas. But that is a big error. Poor air quality is widespread and aggravating conditions like asthma and bronchitis. We just may be blaming our stuffed up heads on pollen and springtime, when it’s industry pollution and the ozone that are tipping the overload. My husband and I have terrible sinus problems this year like never before.

Monroe did not fair well on the particulate test. It got a D. The report is incomplete for ozone in Monroe since there were no figures for it at all. The absence of ozone reporting is represented by the “-” in the report. But with Wayne County having both ozone and particulate reports complete and receiving an overall F for air quality, and Lucas County, OH getting an F for ozone, and D for particulates also, it doesn’t look much better for Monroe that is sandwiched between them.

Parameters for measuring particulates were changed by the EPA in 2006 also, (On September 21, 2006, the EPA announced a revised 24-hour National Ambient Air Quality standard for PM2.5). I could not determine from the explanation for this change, whether EPA parameters were more strict or loose. Monroe passed the EPA’s annual rating though. Go figure. According to the explanation of methodology:

[] The EPA determines whether a county violates the standard based on the 4th maximum daily 8-hour ozone reading each year averaged over three years. Multiple days of unhealthy air beyond the highest four in each year are not considered. By contrast, the [Lung Association] system used in this report recognizes when a community’s air quality repeatedly results in unhealthy air throughout the three years. Consequently, some counties will receive grades of “F” in this report showing repeated instances of unhealthy air, while still meeting the EPA’s 1997 ozone standard or the 1-hour ozone standard set in 1979. The EPA adopted a new ozone standard on March 12, 2008. This grading system has not been adjusted to reflect the new standard.

The EPA’s annual rating gave Lucas County a pass, but failed Wayne. Somehow I don’t feel all that assured about Monroe’s “pass” status for air quality by the EPA. Our health is being measured in parts per million again, and among changing standards.

The ABC news article: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AllergiesNews/story?id=7449100&page=1
The American Lung website: http://www.stateoftheair.org/2009/states/
How the study was done: http://www.stateoftheair.org/2008/methodology/

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DTE’s Latest Award

The Clean Corporate Citizen (C3) program, established under Administrative Rules R324.1501 to R324.1511, allows regulated establishments that have demonstrated environmental stewardship and a strong environmental ethic through their operations in Michigan to be recognized as Clean Corporate Citizens. The C3 program is built on the concept that these Michigan facilities can be relied upon to carry out their environmental protection responsibilities without rigorous oversight, and should enjoy greater permitting flexibility than those that have not demonstrated that level of environmental awareness. Clean Corporate Citizens who voluntarily participate in this program will receive public recognition and are entitled to certain regulatory benefits, including expedited permits. http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3307_3666_4134—,00.html

While I’m happy that DTE is looking into investing in environmentally sound alternatives in the future, and this attempt to clean up AROUND Monroe’s coalburner is great progress, the Clean Corporate Citizen’s award is a little out of place here. What about the mercury? What about the CO2? Has DTE turned our coalburner into a carbon capture plant, because unless all three things are addressed with this award, than clean is a subjective word?

The award comes from Michigan’s DEQ whose budget has recently been slashed again. http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/?p=414. The same DEQ that warns they will have fewer regulators looking out for Michigan’s wetlands, rivers, and streams, and will not likely to be able to respond to pollution spills.

If you read about the Clean Corporate Citizen program above it says, “regulated establishments that had a strong environmental ethic THROUGH their operations in Michigan…” Come on, DTE just recently installed scrubbers that DO NOT address CO2 and or the resultant mercury emissions. It’s the second largest burner in the country.

I especially like the part above that says: “should enjoy greater permitting flexibility than those that have not demonstrated that level of environmental awareness.” DTE is now a Clean Corporate Citizen who can enjoy EXPEDITED permits says the Dept. of Environmental Quality that no longer has the funds to regulate what happens to much of our state’s surface waters. The same surface waters of which 25% do not fall under the Great Lakes Compact protection either, thanks to Michigan’s senate.

Lovely.

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White House Blocks EPA From Posting New Health Assessments of Hazardous Chemicals

My 85-year-old mother asked me why there aren’t as many stars at night? I told her; to begin with, it has to be a clear night to see a bunch of stars. She said it seems when she was young there were a lot of starry nights. She’s intently watching the skies over Monroe to see if we have any clear nights, and how many stars are visible.

She thinks there aren’t as many clear nights because of pollution. My mother also remarked that some of her friend’s children were down from northern Michigan for a visit and it was quite noticeable to them that our skies are different, not as clear, even in the daytime.

I’m still wondering when the EPA is going to release reports about all types of things in our air, water, and land mass. It’s the same old stall or obstruction used by the Bush Administration against the environment for 8 years. I witnessed the put-off again on the news today when President Bush, during his talks in Britain with Gerald Brown, said that the U.S. would embrace environmentalism when China and India agree to the same pact or “whatever the U.S. does just won’t be affective.”

What a crock. First of all the U.S. only has 300 million citizens compared to both China and India with over one billion citizens each, yet the U.S. holds its own creating one quarter of earth’s total pollution. I think we could make quite a big dent in cleaning up the environment without China and India along for the ride. Has this administration ever heard the term, leading by example? Besides India is making huge strides by using their pollution for methane production to fuel their cooking and lighting needs. Bio Tech India has both a portable and permanent models of residential bio mass digesters. Just feed the digester food scraps and it produces methane gas to burn. Bio Tech India is also working on incorporating human waste into the works. India is already using the cow dung from its sacred cows for methane and energy production. Just think of all the fuel we could get from doggy parks, and litter boxes.

So it’s the same old song and dance from Bush. I really didn’t expect much more from his regime, but then I read an article on ENS website that congress is wondering about the big stall on reports about clean air, water, and land too, and what it’s costing us health wise. It seems Congress “questioned the health effects of a new White House policy that delays the completion and release of chemical assessments into a public database maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

There it is, the purposeful stall from the Bush regime that delays the release of assessments that inevitably affect our health in a bad way, but no doubt help some big polluter down the line. I’m starting to feel like a Polar Bear more and more all the time.

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2008/2008-06-12-093.asp

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Clean Coal Remains Illusive

We’ll soon be seeing a new media blitz from the coal industry because people are catching on that coal is not clean. The industry is throwing $30 million dollars into an advertising and public relations campaign under the name of Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC). But the list that follows are all polluters like Billiton the largest mining company in the world, or CONSOL the largest producer of bituminous coal in America. They just don’t have motivation to cut into that kind power unless it’s from the kindness of their hearts.

AMEREN, American Electric Power, Arch Coal, Arkansas Electric Coop, Associated Electric Coop, Association of American Railroads, Basin Electric Power Coop, BHP Billiton, Buckeye Industrial Mining, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Group, CONSOL Energy, CSX, Detroit Edison, Duke Energy, Edison Electric Institute, First Energy Corp, Foundation Coal, Hoosier Energy, Massey Energy, National Mining Assoc., National Rural Electric Coop, Norfolk Southern, Peabody Energy, Southern Co., Tri-State Generation and Transmission, Union Pacific Railroad, Western Farmers Electric Coop.

This group is using other groups like America’s Power and Clean Coal USA to advertise across the country to make their coal look green. So be alert. There is nothing new. There is not a new kind of coal plant that generates electricity with lower CO2 emissions. There is coal that has very low sulfur content. And sulfur content and other particulates can be removed by what is termed “scrubbers.” That’s not new technology, but it will help alleviate lung problems. Until something drastically changes coal users like the cheap dirty stuff because everything else costs money. This is a good article about it from the Wall Street Journal: http://www.mindfully.org/Energy/Clean-Coal-Oxymoron-WSJ.htm

In 2001 President Bush committed to more advanced clean coal technologies. According to an article on DOE’s website: “The Clean Coal Power Initiative is providing government co-financing for new coal technologies that can help utilities meet the President’s Clear Skies Initiative to cut sulfur, nitrogen and mercury pollutants from power plants by nearly 70 percent by the year 2018. Also, some of the early projects are showing ways to reduce greenhouse emissions by boosting the efficiency by which coal plants convert coal to electricity or other energy forms.” Come on, 10 more years to just get sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury pollutants down? That’s lame. http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/cleancoal/.

Not much is new with coal except for trapping the gas, and where to put it. Our Michigan CO2 well should be about full this weekend. It didn’t hold nearly enough liquid CO2. It’s not a solution. How many more holes are we going to rip into the earth? We have over 500,000 mines in the U.S. Many are old and abandoned. We have over 500,000 oil wells, many are done, fini. That’s a lot of holes in the ground. Will the earth heal quickly from the millions of holes we’ve drilled?

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The State of the Detroit River and Lake Erie

There is a presentation at MCCC’s Meyer Auditorium tonight called “Coming Home. State of the Straits: Status and Trends of Key Indicators. This is an effort to present the results of compiled data on the ecosystems health in the Detroit River and Lake Erie. I wanted to go but I’m 40 minutes away from MCCC’s parking lot and don’t like the looks of the weather. What I did is find the results of the program and printed out about 30 pages that comprise the comprehensive and integrative assessment.

This presentation is based on information in “50 key trend data sets and indicators” according to the report itself. However, it also states that this comprehensive and integrative assessment is initial and heavily weighted on state information with “important data and knowledge gaps.” Nevertheless, it “lays the foundation for continuous improvement in the future.”

But I can’t tell from the report what we’re improving on. There are percentages of increase or decline of contaminants with no beginning measurements given. There are also very few quantitative targets. So we don’t know what aiming for. The study is over a 35-year time span. In 1970, we were polluted. The Clean Air and Water Act improved everything initially in a huge way. So to tell me from 1970 until now there has been an overall improvement in our water, well no kidding. What I want to know is what transpired over the past 10 years? For instance, regarding contaminants in western Lake Erie sediments, there is a record in 1971, and another in 1995 for mercury and PCB’s. Two records, 24 years apart are telling us there is a 70% decline in mercury in sediment and a 50% decline in PCB’s and other organochlorine contaminants. I don’t think that is very thorough. The mercury is 70% lower from what amount? Does this constitute a good amount? Mercury may have been 85% lower in the 90’s with pollution levels going up some 15% since then and the overall reading from 1971 will still look good at 70% reduction in pollution even though it’s rising again and quickly. Many of these reports concerning water end in 2004 too, like amounts of mercury in walleye.

Reports from 1977-2004 show that mercury in walleye has seen a 60% decline between the late 70’s and early 80’s; levels have remained steady since. What? Nothing has changed in over 25 years? It may be because there is more fishing, and therefore more fish caught at an early stage. We’re told to eat the smaller fish, especially in the ocean, because they have had less time to ingest mercury. There is nothing in this report that shows the accumulative affects of mercury either like from sediment, to fish, to birds, to larger predators.

I had to consider the source and motivation of this report too when I saw the list of editors and funding. Two of the editors are from the USFWS, the controversial agency that currently aims to kill the wolves and buffalo out west without presenting a solid answer as to why. And the funding sources include DTE, and the US EPA, another favorite controversial agency of mine. But like I said, I really wanted to hear this presentation. The presenters probably had really good slides of the wildlife that is thriving. Nothing is all bad news. If anyone attended please let me know about it.

I’ve included an article from the Toledo Blade about this presentation relative to receding shorelines and loss of water in the Great Lakes too. http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080107/NEWS06/801070402.

These are the actual tables resulting from the compilation of data for the trends reported in the presentation. http://www.epa.gov/med/grosseile_site/indicators/sos/assessment.pdf.

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Renewable Portfolio Standards; Environmental Resume for States

I ran across a good website that explains RPS or Renewable Portfolio Standards. A state’s RPS spells out what is being enacted within the state to lower the state’s dependency on fossil fuels through conservation and alternative energy initiatives. And it draws jobsmany, many jobs! An analogy would be that an RPS is like a state’s environmental resume for new green businesses looking for a home fortheir headquarters/operations.

So all RPS’s aren’t the same of course. An RPS must be tailored to the state. All states won’t lean equally on the wind, solar, or geothermal power mix that are major parts of a state’s RPS. Some states will rely on solar more than wind, or wind more than geothermal power. An article that discusses Michigan’s RPS and how it already leaves solar out of the picture is http://www.photon-magazine.com/news_archiv/details.aspx?cat=News_PI&sub=america&pub=4&parent=624. That’s too bad because solar has been really good for me this winter in Michigan.

There is a lot of reading here and it’s very interesting. Twenty-four states have already established RPS’s and are experiencing a lot of job growth. Considering Michigan barely regulates its CO2 emissions, and keeps inviting more polluting industries into the state, I don’t find it surprising that Michigan doesn’t have an RPS yet. Of all the states that have suffered heavy job loss, an RPS should have been first on an agenda for our congress. Contact our reps. and senators to get moving on “green” job opportunities in the thousands in Michigan and cut the polluters loose.

The tax benefits to states that court “green” business is good also. The sercoline website below stated that in Nevada, one geothermal plant paid “$800,000 in county taxes and $1.7 million in property taxes. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management collects nearly $20 million each year in rent and royalties from geothermal plants producing power on federal lands in Nevada half of these revenues are returned to the state.” In Iowa, “the 240 MW of wind capacity installed in 1998 and 1999 produced $2 million per year in tax payments to counties and school districts and $640,000 per year in direct lease payments to landowners.”

So having, as well as, advertising a good RPS will garner states more jobs, a greater tax base, and a much healthier environment while helping alleviate overall global warming. The big bonus: it entices more business to come on board, like Minnesota: “The 143 wind turbines in the 107-MW Lake Benton I project in Minnesota, installed in early 1998, brought $250 million in investment.”

Are Michigan’s tradeoffs to polluting industries for a few hundred jobs saved here and there being offset against higher health care expense due to bad air, or water pollution, and include the loss of new “green” jobs that bring more tax revenue, and entice more businesses to invest in Michigan? I’d like to see that equation. I don’t think Michigan is heading in the right direction, except for the very temporary oil drilling blitz that will probably occur, whether we want it to or not. But at some point, our demand will exceed our supply and we won’t have oilmen in the White House to push that agenda any longer.
http://www.serconline.org/RPS/fact.html.

http://www.michigancleanenergy.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B43B4E9A9-4132-4A0D-A15F-39434E54B50C%7D.

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A Fossil Fuel State

I’m sorry to read that Michiganpersists withpollution policy instead of sound environmental policy. We need to get the corporate friendly senate moving in a cleaner direction. We have an obligation in this state to at very least try to keep the water clean. If we keep goofing off, someone might decide we are poor stewards and should share the wealth and management of our water. Does adding more coalburners to the list of 19, including the country’s second largest in Monroe, sound like anyone here pays attention to health issues, future problems with water shortages, or the earth? The latest out of MI senate is a push to alter abortion issues in Michigan. That’s the big priority? People need jobs; we need a decent and moral economy. By moral, I mean we do our utmost not to disturb life in the process of living and producing. A green economy can offer plenty of jobs but that ride is being held up either on a state or federal level and benefits the oil industry.

We know for instance about oil leases that have been sold in pristine areas and/or habitat for polar bears, seals and all types of birds. Drilling there is pending and the oil industry wants to get moving. It’s becoming obvious that placing the polar bear on the endangered list is purposely being stalled. All that is needed is a great motivator. Bingo, gas will go up beyond $4.00 per gallon shortly. We’re already being taunted by that forecast. People are expected to cry drill, drill, drill and to hell with the animals. And we’ll probably do that, instead of seeing the big picture and how we’re being manipulated by the utilities. Even Warren Buffet commented that we’ve been sticking straws into the earth and sorry but it’s a finite practice. We will eventually run out. We collectively had over 500,000 wells. Our demand is ridiculous, and growing and it all revolves around the same fossil sources.

Heaven forbid we advance in technology and perfect wind and solar power for the individual home, and make it cheap. Houses would stand-alone without need for utilities. It’s almost laughable isn’t it? We are street smart enough to know the powers that be won’t let that happen. Anyway, our airwaves will be controlled shortly. Can’t even get free air anymore, besides there is that ever lovin entertainment/sports world that’s always going to charge too.

We could practice conservation. We could develop an RPS for Michigan, (more on that in another blog), which would entice green developers to come here. I’ve been saying this for quite awhile. What green industry is going to plant themselves next to a bunch of pollution? We’ll never get away from polluting industries once they are established without paying for it dearly. The buck will pass on to us for corporation’s stubborn business sense if and when in the future a big conservation effort needs to be enacted because, gee, we really are polluting ourselves to death.

I was reading the Sierra Club’s “The Mackinac” and it states what I’ve been reading elsewhere, that many places in this country are not giving permits to more coalburners. The front-page article said 44 proposed coal-fired plants were either denied or withdrawn in 2007 thanks to The Sierra Club. So what happened here?

There were five more coalburners looking for environmental permits in Michigan, with three more new plants under discussion the article said. It also stated that the challenge to put a moratorium on coal-fired plants in Michigan is daunting. Well I guess, especially with a corporation friendly senate. It said, “The state has refused to regulate the CO2 from coal plants that contribute to global warming (so long as the applicants address other pollutants, the state will let them be built). So that’s why the rush to install scrubbers? The scrubbers address other pollutants that are breathing irritants, but not the mercury that is permeating through the water to the fish, to the birds, and eventually anyone who drinks the waterone of the world’s largest freshwater supplies that is no longer so fresh. Or the CO2, that’s warming us up and causing some really bad weatheralmost tornado season. What’s the sense of the Great Lakes Legacy Act? What a tail chase, and meanwhile the water and Michigan loses, while the polar bears, seals, fish, and birds, the entire earth, take a back seat to our excess.

Take a stand and participate. Read: http://michigan.sierraclub.org/.

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U.S. Court of Appeals Gets Tough on EPA and Mercury Pollution

 

I can’t believe it. The Bush administration hasn’t exited yet and things are changing for the environmental good already. According the Environmental News Service today, Feb. 8th, 2008, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia “vacated two rules issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that failed to set strict limits on mercury emissions from power plants.” Vacated, I can’t believe it. That means “No Way!”

  • The EPA’s cap and trade program was thrown out the window by the court.
  • Then the court told the EPA how they “erred by taking power plants off the list of hazardous pollution sources when it issued its Clean Air Mercury Rule” that advocated the cap and trade program.
  • The article went on to say, “the EPA now has two years to develop mercury emissions standards for existing power plants.”

The Clean Air Mercury Rule was an attempt by the EPA to limit the amount of mercury discharged by industry. There were two caps. The first was to be 38 tons of emissions reduced by first getting rid of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide called “co-benefits” by the rule. The rule suggests mercury reductions are achieved by doing this. But mercury is a chemical element. It is what it is. It is not sulfur and nitrogen. They are what they are. Granted they’re bad for the respiratory system, but what about the mercury? The court obviously got tired of this nonsense too and told the EPA to get on the ball. There was also an obvious problem with this little statement in the Clean Air Mercury Rule: “”…and because recent information demonstrates that it is not appropriate or necessary to regulate coal and oil-fired utility units under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.” What?

I griped about all of this in another blog when DTE (Detroit area energy provider) announced they were installing scrubbers for sulfur and nitrogen on their Monroe coalburner. Whoopty Doo. Scrubbers do nothing about the mercury, but today the courts sure did. I also predicted that� utility companies would continue too long on their same course and then whine about the cost to reverse things and comply with new clean air policy. How soon before we hear the sob stories?� So predictable. When companies have a big lobby, they throw all foresight to the wind.� They don’t need to stay on the ball. They pay to change the play instead.� And the taxpayer bears the brunt. Read about that again: http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/?m=200701.

This ruling comes on the heals of the June 2007 edict by the Court of Appeals that vacated the EPA’s Incinerator Rule. The court blasted the EPA for violating the Clean Air Act for relaxing limits on emissions of smog-forming compounds from large power plants, factories, and other industrial sources,” according to Chemical and Engineering News. Smog and smoke have always been pretty self explanatory to me. If you can see it in the air, it’s substantial, and you probably shouldn’t be breathing it. As a result of the court’s ruling, chemical plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities that burn the waste they generate in on-site incinerators must comply with the law’s most stringent rules governing hazardous air pollutants. So what about Holcim Cement?

As I sit in a county with the nation’s second largest coalburner that sits on Lake Erie, and a Holcim cement plant that’s big on incinerating and has racked up big fines for doing it, it’s going to be real interesting how the court’s rulings play out.

The announcement of the court ruling today: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2008/2008-02-08-01.asp.
The June, 2007 ruling about incinerators: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/85/i25/8525news7.html.
The EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule that is defunct as of today: http://www.epa.gov/camr/basic.htm.
A disturbing report about mercury hot spots: http://www.mindfully.org/Air/2004/Fort-Wayne-Indiana-Mercury11jan04.htm.

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So Where Do We Stand on the Environment for 2008?

I just got through reading some current worldwide environmental news and have to say, we don’t seem to have a clear-cut view of anything. What we profess, what we say, and what we actually do is all contrary. First, I saw the Pope give his blessing and speak on behalf of peace and the environment over the Christmas season to over one billion Catholics. And the World Council of Churches that represents 560 million Christians worldwide is calling concerns over global warming a matter of faith. The WCC has had a program about climate change since 1992 and books about ecotheology (I’m interested). Dr. Samuel Kobia the Secy. General of the WCC stipulates that Christians are well aware that dominion over all living things was given to us. He said that meant, “We were entrusted with the care of the rest of God’s creation.” The emphasis is on the word “CARE” here.


Care doesn’t come under savagely taking a machete to an orangutan trying to defend it’s young, or hooking a live dolphin in the side and sending it to be stripped of skin before it’s even dead, while the resulting meat is basically poison from ingesting too many pollutants, or shooting 6 elephants dead for stepping into a coffee field that is supposed to be their sanctuary. We should actively try to get this stopped, but our demands for things like lumber and coffee encourage it. Oh and don’t forget about native animals and the latest Internet hunting websites that have yet to be banned in over 20 states.

There was the news about a zoo tiger that got loose and killed one man, and maimed two others before it was shot dead. The media wanted to know and put this question out to the public if it is wise to keep caged and wild animals? 145,000,000 people visit zoos every year without incident. If we didn’t have zoos the likelihood of seeing a live polar bear, tiger, elephant, orangutan, gorilla, condor, panda…etc., would more than likely be nil. I have to wonder about the media here. Do they operate with any type of perspective about things, or just pounce on a bit of fantastic news with so much fervor it gets skewed out of proportion and normalcy? People are maimed in cars every day and no one says: “Gee, should we really be driving?”

 

We’ve heard about individual states taking their own course of action for the environment with many implementing their own environmental laws especially since the Supreme Court decided that the EPA is supposed to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases according to the Clean Air Act but has not done so. So what do I read? The Bush administration: “Thursday announced that it will block efforts by California, Maryland, and 15 other states to cut emissions of global warming gases from cars and trucks.” Now that is an example of talking out of two sides of one’s mouth isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to be forging ahead with alternative energy anyway?

 

This administration got elected based on a big moral majority.Do we or do we not celebrate animals? I hope we understand the world is in our care. We simply can’t keep spreading and demanding, taking up room where other things live. We end up killing the very same animals we ooh and ah over at the zoo.We love cartoon movies with animals, little talking pigs, Flipper, the Lion King. We are supposed to teach our children to be kinds to animals. But when animals act out in their normal manner we talk about dispensing with them right away, like the zoo issue. We sacrifice living breathing creatures in our own species chain over things we need for our big houses or our big lifestyle. And we elect our president/vice president based on morality when this latest threat to block states trying to do right by the environment proves the opposite. So where do we stand between what we believe, what we say, and what we actually do about our world and everything in it because I can’t tell?

 

By the way, a current gallop poll has President Bush as the number one pick among the most admired men and women of 2007. Is that not the icing on the cookie for contradictions as far as you’ve read them here?
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2007/2007-12-24-01.asp.

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