Converting invasive plants to power plants

Capital News Service
LANSING — Researchers working in wetlands in Michigan have a new approach to invasive plants. Instead of removing plants like phragmites and switchgrass, they harvest them. These plants are a threat to biodiversity, they say, but invasive plants can benefit farmers and even power homes. Scientists are working in the middle of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge which has 10,000 acres of marshes, bogs, forest and farmland. Everywhere you look, there’s a hawk or a herring.

Legislation would allow nuclear power plant guards to use deadly force to deter terrorists

Capital News Service
LANSING — Nuclear power plant security guards have no more authority to use force than civilians. But lawmakers have introduced bills in the House and Senate to change that by allowing them to use deadly and non-deadly force within reason. “It would allow them, in specific situations that they deem necessary, to use force to remove someone from a power plant,” said, Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, the primary sponsor for the House bill. “This is not something where security officers will be able to shoot protestors. It is to prevent terrorists from coming to the door of a nuclear power plant.”

Nuclear plant security officers can only use force now to prevent imminent death but this law would give them the same authority as a police officer, said Terrence Jungel, Michigan Sheriffs’ Association executive director.

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.

Drive on to curb power plant emissions

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.

Power plant near Manistee prepares for new mercury rules

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Capital News Service
LANSING — New state mercury regulations that take effect in 2015 will bring changes at the T.E.S. Filer City power station near Manistee. According to Teresa Cooper of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), if the plant doesn’t reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent of its 1999 baseline levels, it will have three ways to meet the new requirements. It can reduce emissions to about an ounce per gigawatt-hour of electricity, which is enough to power one million 100-watt light bulbs for an hour, reduce its sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions or find ways to reduce mercury emissions in the community. The plant could qualify for the final option only if it emits less than 9 pounds of mercury per year. Dan Bishop, the public information officer for CMS Energy in Jackson, said the company is still figuring out how to comply with the new regulations.