Citizens groups today filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for ignoring state regulations when it approved an air pollution permit for a coal plant in Holland.

“The State of Michigan should not be in the business of bending the rules and that’s what this lawsuit is about,” said Jan O’Connell of the Sierra Club. “The Department of Environmental Quality should not have issued a permit when the Holland Board of Public Works has failed to address a range of legally required issues. The people of Michigan deserve to know that their state government puts their health, safety and future before profits.”

The MDEQ issued an air pollution permit on Feb. 11, 2011, paving the way for a proposed expansion of the DeYoung coal fired power plant in Holland. The Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed the lawsuit against the MDEQ in Ingham County Circuit Court today.

“When government sidesteps the law, they must be held accountable, especially when its ill-advised decision threatens people’s health,” said Shannon Fisk of the Midwest Office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The people of Michigan have said time and time again that they want more clean energy and more energy efficiency, not dirty and expensive coal plants. Give the people — not big coal companies — what they want.”

The lawsuit charges the proposed coal plan expansion would emit about 181,440 tons of carbon dioxide every year – emissions that the MDEQ’s permit does not regulate or limit. The lawsuit says MDEQ’s issuance of the permit was arbitrary, capricious, and not authorized by law, in part because the agency ignored the lack of need for the plant, and the existence of cleaner alternatives that Holland acknowledges would be less costly.

“Holland residents will not only see an increase in harmful emissions, but we will also see an increase on our electric bills if the coal plant is built,” said Fred Kathi, Holland resident. “I urge Holland to save rate payers’ money and lungs by cancelling the coal plant and pursuing cleaner alternatives.”

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