By PATRICK LYONS
Capital News Service
LANSING– Coal-fired power plants in seven counties the state have been linked to hundreds of premature deaths in Michigan. And the Environmental Protection Agency has adopted tougher regulations intended to lessen the health risks of coal-fired power plants. A report from Environmental Health and Engineering Inc. in Needham, Mass., commissioned by the Michigan Environmental Council, linked 180 cases of premature death to emissions from the nine oldest coal-fired plants in the state. Emissions from those plants, built between 1949 and 1968, are also responsible for 660 premature deaths in surrounding states, according to the report. The report shows that in addition to causing deaths plants are damaging cardiovascular and respiratory health in Michigan and surrounding states, resulting in health care costs of $1.5 billion and $5.4 billion respectively.