Pages tagged "environmental justice"
On Thursday, Consumers Energy made its boldest commitment to date: it will retire its remaining five coal plants by 2025, 15 years ahead of schedule.
Consumers and environmental groups said the move would immediately decrease local air pollution, improve lung and heart health, and be a small but important step toward reducing global climate change.Read more
A group of 13 organizations urged the state to protect West Michiganders from the heart and lung diseases smog exacerbates in a recent public comment filing.
The group, led by the Michigan Environmental Council, urged the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to allow Allegan, Berrien and parts of Muskegon counties' ozone (aka, smog) air readings to stand as recorded. Readings exceed safe smog levels for public health and, as such, would make the areas fail to meet air pollution standards.Read more
As utility companies work to make their plans for carbon neutrality reality, they’ll need to clean up their acts on coal ash to truly protect Michiganders from fossil fuels’ threats to public health and the environment.
A new report by the Michigan Environmental Council reveals that, despite what some utility companies say, the 1.45 million tons of coal ash – the toxic byproduct of coal – produced each year in the Great Lake state is not always safely stored.
The report’s co-writers – MEC energy program director Charlotte Jameson and MEC energy policy specialist Abby Wallace – found that 12 the 15 coal ash sites with publicly available monitoring data had contaminated groundwater with toxic chemicals far above state and federal standards.
That puts the Great Lakes, rivers, groundwater and people living near coal plants at risk from toxic chemicals in coal ash, like lead, arsenic and mercury.
The report also found that the majority of the acres-long and meters-deep coal ash storage “ponds” are unlined, and one in Grand Haven flooded recently due to high water levels.
“MEC’s research shows the trend in groundwater contamination from coal ash has not substantially improved and that unlined coal ash ponds, even where a substantial clay underlayer exists, have been leaching toxic chemicals into our water for decades,” said Jameson. “We cannot fully protect our water and our health in Michigan if we remain dependent on coal-powered energy. We must swiftly close their plants; properly remediate their pollution; and transition to clean, renewable energy sources.”
“Holland. Marquette. River Rouge. Essexville. These are cities where utilities’ coal ash sites have contaminated groundwater with arsenic and lead significantly above health and environmental protection standards,” Wallace said. “Utilities must close coal ash ponds and remediate nearby groundwater to protect and give justice to the vulnerable communities around them.”
A 2021 Harvard University study noted one in five people worldwide may die from fossil fuel pollution, said Casey Patnode, a doctoral and public health student at the University of Michigan and founding member of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future.
“I’ve seen many patients come into the ER in respiratory arrest,” Patnode said. “I wonder how many of them would not have had to experience these situations if it wasn’t for the pollutants in their environment. Coal and coal ash must go completely for people to be truly safe from fossil fuels' debilitating effects, from developmental delays to cancer. We, at a population level, are on the precipice of being in this type of arrest and we need urgent action to prevent this."
MEC’s 2021 coal ash report was peer-reviewed by Earthjustice. It is an extension of a 2018 coal ash report.
In April, Michigan House Republicans set forth budgets that, if approved, would send our state into a tailspin of instability, threatening the lives and livelihoods of Michiganders in every political district.
House Bills 4395 and 4397 passed out of the Michigan Legislature with only Republican approval, and not all Republicans at that. If made law, the Departments of Natural Resources (MDNR) and Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) would only be able to function about 12 weeks at a time on budgets 25% of what they are now.Read more
Neither Michigan Senate or House FY22 school budgets included a $55 million appropriation in grants for schools to install and maintain filtered water fountains with bottle fillers and, in some cases, on-tap filters.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s FY21 supplemental appropriation recommended funding this critical program, which would protect nearly 1.5 million children and tens of thousands of adults from lead exposure from their school’s drinking water.Read more
As the bright March sunlight hinted at warmer days, Sandra Turner-Handy took a walk around her block to hand out yard signs.
Turner-Handy lives in Denby, a neighborhood in east Detroit with a few thousand residents, hundreds of quaint brick homes, an Art Deco high school and a $1.5 million park.
It was at this park, Skinner Park, the Detroit Tigers stopped at during their pre-Opening Day tour, an event those yard signs promoted. Despite the rain, families from Denby and nearby Yorkshire Woods came to meet the Tigers, jam to a drumline, chow down and get baseball equipment.
Turner-Handy — engagement director for the Michigan Environmental Council and leader of the Denby Neighborhood Alliance — was thrilled, and not just because she’s an avid Tigers fan. The club chose Skinner Park out of 308 official Detroit parks. It was symbolic, proof Skinner was a focal point for the community.Read more
In an effort to advocate for Michigan customers, four groups announced today they are joining Attorney General Dana Nessel to intervene in Consumers Energy’s proposal to raise electric rates in Michigan.
The groups intervening are the Michigan Environmental Council, Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council.
In December 2020, the Commission approved a $90.2 million rate increase, which went into effect January 1 of this year. The utility company originally asked for an increase of $254 million during that case, but MEC and allies were able to blunt it.
If the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approves Consumers Energy’s $225 million rate increase request, residential customers would see an additional 8.3% rate increase while industrial customers would see a 4.2% increase and commercial customers would see a bump of 0.4%.Read more
Whether it be the “green ooze” that trickled onto a highway from a shuttered Madison Heights business in 2020 or PFAS currently seeping into west Michigan wells, a new bill ensures those causing pollution catastrophes pay for the health threats they create.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Michigan House Democratic House Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi introduced House Bill 4314, which requires private companies to pay to clean up pollution they create. Current law only requires companies to contain and limit exposure of these pollutants. The financial burden of cleanup falls on residents, who pay through taxes.Read more
On Thursday, Feb. 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced recommendations for a $67 billion budget for Michigan. If passed, hundreds of millions of dollars will go toward initiatives at the intersection of the environment, health and justice and strengthen the health of people, their communities and the environment.
Many of Gov. Whitmer’s appropriation recommendations mirror those sent to her administration by Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.Read more
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday recommended a $55 million appropriation in grants for schools to install and maintain filtered water fountains with bottle fillers and, in some cases, on-tap filters. With this proposed funding, nearly 1.5 million children and tens of thousands of adults are one step closer being better protected against lead from their school’s drinking water.
This “Filter First” approach, which is based on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s model legislation, is the most health-protective, cost-effective and immediate way to remove lead from school drinking water. The approach is advocated for by a coalition of environmental, health and education organizations and leaders.Read more