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CONTACT: Leigh Fifelski
Thursday October 28, 2010                                                               
(517) 999.3646

Permit is part of a coal project that is already on hold

Bay City, MI – Citizens today criticized a decision by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to provide a permit to Consumers Energy to drain wetlands near Bay City for a proposed $3.57 billion coal plant that the company has indefinitely suspended. Citizens groups said the MDNRE decision is unnecessary and endangers Michigan’s clean energy future.
“Giving Consumers Energy a permit to drain a crucial wetland when it doesn’t need to is the wrong decision for Michigan’s future,” said Terry Miller of the Lone Tree Council, a citizens group based in the Bay area. “Michigan citizens and study after study have said all along: Michigan does not need another coal plant. Unfortunately, the MDNRE failed to listen to the people and to the facts, and made the wrong decision that puts our future at risk.”
The MDNRE approved a permit by Consumers Energy to fill 6.25 acres of an important watershed that connects to Lake Huron as part of the company’s now-suspended proposal to build a dirty coal plant. The wetlands draining project likely would destroy far more than the 6.25 acres of wetlands that Consumers and MDNRE claims.  
“No coal plant means there is no reason to rip up these wetlands,” said Shannon Fisk of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Wrecking wetlands for a coal plant that will likely not be built seems like a big waste of MDNRE’s very limited resources to me. Draining a wetland for a coal plant that isn’t going to get built is like making a hole in your wall for a door you aren’t going to buy. It’s a waste of money and you’ll wreck your house.”

Wetlands are nature’s filter, storing and cleaning water from rain and storm runoffs. They help prevent floods and return clean, drinkable water to lakes and surrounding groundwater after a storm. Fewer wetlands will result in increased flooding and dirtier drinking water. Lake Huron itself provides drinking water to more than 1.5 million people in Michigan. Scientists agree that we will experience significant increases in violent rainstorms throughout the Midwest in the coming years due to climate change, making the positive impacts of our local wetlands all the more important.


In June, Consumers Energy announced that it was indefinitely suspending plans to build a controversial coal plant near the site of the wetlands due to declining energy demand and the availability of alternatives. The decision meant there is no need to develop the surrounding area, including the wetlands.


“The MDNRE sent the wrong signal with this permit and failed to seize an opportunity to ramp up clean energy development that will create jobs, reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuel and protect Michigan’s vital wetlands and water,” Tiffany Hartung of the Sierra Club said. “Michigan should do everything in its power to grow investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, instead of opening the door to more destruction of our wetlands.”


“Michigan’s wetlands are vital for the health of our natural resources, and this dangerous decision threatens to put them at risk,” said Susan Harley of Clean Water Action. “The MDNRE has chosen to make an ill-advised decision. Michigan citizens want our wetlands protected and we want more clean energy jobs, and this permit flies in the face of the people’s wishes.”



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