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Analysis: New EPA Carbon Rule Can Help Preserve MI Way of Life

PHOTO: Michigan business and energy leaders are hailing the proposed coal power plant carbon emission standards for the economic benefits they could bring the state. Photo credit: Click/Morguefile.com
PHOTO: Michigan business and energy leaders are hailing the proposed coal power plant carbon emission standards for the economic benefits they could bring the state. Photo credit: Click/Morguefile.com
June 3, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – The new carbon-emission standards for power plants unveiled on Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will do more than just clear the air. Leaders from various sectors say the rules stand to create jobs, save Michiganders money, and help preserve the Great Lakes way of life.

Brian Kozminski, president of Trout Unlimited's Miller VanWinkle chapter, is a lifelong fisherman who says he has seen the impact of carbon pollution on Michigan wildlife as many smaller streams have dried up or fish died off. He stresses that the value of preserving Michigan's outdoor legacy cannot be underestimated.

"The pollution from the power plants means fish won't be safe to eat, and we won't want to go fishing for them in the polluted waters," says Kozminski. "It means our children and grandchildren won't be able to experience the natural beauty and activities that our state has to offer. We have an obligation as stewards of this state to do everything we can possibly do to mitigate these losses."

The rules direct states to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030, using emissions from 2005 as a baseline. States will have flexibility in meeting those standards, either by cutting emissions directly, switching to a lower-emission fuel sources, upgrading equipment or increasing reliance on renewable energy sources.

Michigan already has cut power plant coal emissions by an estimated 17 percent since 2005, and state officials say it's on track to meet a renewable-energy portfolio standard of 10 percent by 2015. Robert Rafson is the president of Chart House Energy, a renewable-energy firm in Muskegon. He sees the new rule as a job creator.

"Renewable-energy jobs have actually been one of the few sectors that increased during this past recession and not gone down with the rest of the economy," says Rafson. "I think that new action by EPA is going to spur additional investments and innovation."

Michigan currently has more than 20 active coal-fired power plants, and used coal for 54 percent of its net electricity generation in 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The national average is around 44 percent.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI