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May 27, 2010

Coal: Good News, and An Opportunity for More

This is the weekly blog post from Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.

I've got two good news pieces this week - and one issue that needs your help. Last week our Michigan Chapter and everyone who loves clean air and clean energy got some great news when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (MDNRE) denied a permit for the proposed Wolverine coal-fired power plant.

We're cheering the news - the DNRE decision states there is no need for the proposed power plant, in Rogers City, Michigan, and that alternative methods are available that would supply the customers of the four electric cooperatives that make up Wolverine with electricity at a much cheaper rate than the cost of building a new coal plant.

State officials estimated that the proposed plant would increase the electric rates charged by the cooperatives by at least 59.2% even after Wolverine suggested reducing the plant by half.

Residents had been fighting this plant and calling for clean energy options instead for almost three years now!

"The cost of Wolverine coal would have meant diminished health, diminished economy, and great injury to our environment which sustains our lives," said Jean Veselenak, a resident of Rogers City. "Wolverine must now put its head to the real thing; wind, solar; and new technology that already exists in Michigan. Our families deserve these jobs and their health after long promises."

We also saw good news from Ohio last week when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA and Department of Justice announced a settlement with American Municipal Power that will shut down AMP's last coal plant in Ohio by 2012: the Richard Gorsuch Station, located near Marietta, over its Clean Air Act violations.

This move will clean Ohio's air, reduce global warming pollution, and prevent destructive coal mining by AMP. The company will also spend $15 million on an energy efficiency program that will further reduce polluting emissions and save consumers money.

Now after that good news, we head to West Virginia, where we need your help bringing good news to the residents of Logan County. There is a very important deadline rapidly approaching - on June 1st EPA will stop taking public comments on its proposed veto of the permit that would allow devastating mountaintop removal coal mining at the massive Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia.

Local residents have been actively challenging the approval of this permit at the Spruce No. 1 Mine for more than twelve years. The proposed expansion of the mine would bury more than seven miles of headwater streams, directly impact 2,278 acres of forestland, and degrade water quality in nearby streams. This EPA veto would stop that expansion.

We urge you to join us in supporting EPA in its proposal to veto Spruce No. 1, one of the largest proposed mountaintop removal coal mines ever authorized in Appalachia. Take action right now to block this mine's permit.
As with the Ohio AMP plant closure settlement, this is another example: EPA has a critical role in protecting our health, and the health of our environment. We must not let this dirty coal mine move forward in Appalachia.


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