Jan. 6 2010 12:00 AM

Decade response

It was quite ironic to read Dave Dempsey’s statement in his Dec. 30 City Pulse article that Governor Granholm’s administration “mapped out a new renewable energy policy for the state, slowing down construction of new, polluting coalfired power plants” on the day after the state Department of Environmental Quality granted an air quality permit for Consumers Energy to construct a major new coal-fired plant near Bay City. The governor’s executive directive on the subject, issued last January, required the DEQ to consider feasible and prudent alternatives to the construction of new plants and, “If the department determines that a feasible and prudent alternative to the construction of a new proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant exists consistent with the reasonable requirements of the public health, safety, and welfare that would better protect the air, water, and other natural resources of this state than the proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant, the department shall not issue a permit to install.”

Unfortunately for the state, there are feasible and prudent alternatives to construction of a new coal-fired plant, many of which were detailed in the report to DEQ from the Public Service Commission staff earlier in the year. These alternatives were ignored in the crush of political pressure on the "reor ganized" DEQ, whose proposed merger with the DNR was "managed" by someone who worked for Consumers Energy less than one year ago. Dempsey’s overall assessment of this administration’s environmental policy is, sadly, correct. However, the effort to “slow down” the construction of an unnecessary and expensive new power plant and the “mapping out” of a new renewable energy policy, largely dictated by utilities, should not be singled out as exceptions to that assessment. They are rather more examples of a very disappointing environmental record during the last seven years.

— Robert Nelson East Lansing