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Feds Change Coal-Plant Emissions Rules; Here's What it Means for MI

The Monroe Power Plant, opened in 1974, is just one such coal-burning facility in Michigan set to close by 2040. (Wikimedia Commons)
The Monroe Power Plant, opened in 1974, is just one such coal-burning facility in Michigan set to close by 2040. (Wikimedia Commons)
August 22, 2018

LANSING, Mich. - The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it's loosening rules on emissions from coal-fired power plants, rolling back the requirements of President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan.

The new rules largely would allow states to regulate emissions - and in Michigan, it's unclear whether utilities or the Department of Environmental Quality would seek less stringent air-pollution controls for the state's 15 coal-fired power plants.

Pete Ternes, communications manager for external affairs at DTE Energy, said his company plans to close all of its coal plants by 2040 and is sticking with its plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions significantly.

"DTE Energy is still on track to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050," he said, "and we're also setting a goal of reducing our methane emissions from our natural-gas utility operations by 80 percent by 2040."

Consumers Energy also has announced plans to shutter all of its coal-fired plants by 2040, a decision it has said is primarily driven by the cost of upkeep on aging plants and the rising affordability of natural gas and renewable energy.

Charlotte Jameson, energy policy and legislative affairs director for the Michigan Environmental Council, praised the DEQ and utilities in the state for moving forward toward the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement. However, she worried that other states won't be as conscientious about cutting carbon emissions.

"Given the magnitude of the problem with climate change and the magnitude of the solution that we need," she said, "it's really concerning that we are looking to the states as opposed to having federal leadership, which is really what we need."

The Obama-era Clean Power Plan is tied up in litigation and thus never went into effect. Multiple groups that fight climate change have vowed to challenge the EPA's new rules in court as well. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period once it is published in the Federal Register.

The EPA proposal is online at epa.gov.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI