Environmentalists frustrated with perceived lack of plans for carbon emissions reductions

Capital News Service
LANSING — Some  environmental advocates are frustrated with what they say is a broken promise by the state’s governor to address carbon emissions from Michigan’s coal plants. In response to the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan regulations on carbon emissions, Gov. Rick Snyder promised greater use of more environmentally friendly power sources, said Dorothea Thomas, environmental and climate justice organizer for Michigan United, an  advocacy group. The EPA proposed regulations were recently put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court, said Judy Palnau, a communications officer for the Michigan Agency for Energy. As a result, the state has delayed plans for implementing them. “The court stay does introduce a substantial amount of legal uncertainty, so it was deemed wise to hold back,” she said.

Michigan’s energy policy up for grabs

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan’s future in clean energy is up for debate, with 2008 mandates set to expire, widely divergent proposals from government leaders, and environmental groups worried the state could turn back toward fossil fuels. Michigan’s Democrats are proud of the state’s success in shifting to 10 percent renewable energy over the past seven years. They want to increase the renewable goal to 20 percent. Republican legislators are concerned about Michigan’s energy capacity with federal mandates set to shut down a number of coal-fired electrical plants in the coming years. They want to maintain the 10 percent renewable energy requirement and reduce restrictions on meeting state energy goals.

Court OKs DTE power plant permits

Capital News Service
LANSING – The Court of Appeals has upheld state permits for DTE Energy Co.’s modifications of its coal-fired power plant on the Lake Erie shore in Monroe, despite objections by a major environmental group. In a unanimous opinion, the court rejected the Sierra Club’s challenge to permits issued by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in 2010 and 2012. The work has been underway during the Sierra Club’s appeal of a lower court decision in favor of the utility, said Randi Berris, a DTE senior media relations specialist. It’s part of a 10-year, $2 billion overhaul of the state’s largest power plant, she said. It was built in the 1970s.

Will changing rules help or hurt the environment?

Capital News Service
LANSING — Proposed changes to Michigan’s environmental rules would eliminate red tape and redundancy, the Snyder administration says, but environmental groups say air, water, soil and health protections would be weakened. “The real meaningful changes are more process-related than actual requirements,” said Skiles Boyd, vice president of environmental management and resources at DTE Energy and a member of an advisory committee that recommended he changes. “Some of the processes we go through are too burdensome to get the result that we already know we’re going to get,” Boyd said. But James Clift, policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, said, “I dissented on changes that I thought reduced the state’s role of protecting public health.”
In January, a committee assigned to make the state more business-friendly proposed 77 recommendations to Gov. Rick Snyder to overhaul environmental regulations. Snyder rejected three of them.