Every year 24,000 people die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Every year 38,000 heart attacks occur because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Every year 12,000 hospital admissions and 550,000 people suffering asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.
Every year, coal-fired power plants release 48 tons of mercury nationwide.
Power plants release over 40% of total U.S. C02 emissions, a primary contributor to global warming...
...in spite of the fact that coal sickens and kills all living things, industry CEO's (along with the politicians they have invested in) continue to push for more coal fired power plants.
...and now utilities want to burn (as biomass) our trees that capture and store harmful carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we need to live.
Coal at Any Cost?
Ten base load plants they say? My intuition tells me that we really don't have anywhere near the number of people or businesses in Michigan that would justify the energy plan proposed by coal executives and the Michigan Senate Energy Policy and Public Utilities Sub-Committee, so I thought I'd take a look at some numbers myself. Here is what I have discovered so far.
It doesn't take a statistical analyst to realize that population growth in Michigan has been pretty stagnant for some time now. My curiosity led me over to the U.S. Census Bureau. I figured that the Federal population professionals might know more about population growth trends than a handful of coal executives do. If we are to trust the numbers provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, and I do, Michigan is not growing appreciably. In fact the federal Census Bureau is predicting a declining Michigan population by July 1, 2030.
Next I looked at business
Perhaps we ought to be more concerned about creating and retaining jobs in Michigan, instead of spending money we don't have in order to build coal-fueled power plants that we don't need. We have quite a few empty buildings in Michigan where we could begin to manufacture wind and solar power generating equipment, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and really kick-start a new and vibrant profitable green economy right here. Real Jobs and Energy Security don't come from purchasing fossil fuels from another place—real job and energy securty—comes from fulfilling our own energy needs, using our own best resources. As the third windiest State in the country it just makes sense!
Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to become energy independent from oil, natural gas, and coal; and the people who profit from selling us this stuff!
The Least Expensive Energy, is the Energy You Don't Use
In my household for instance, I now turn off lights and appliances that are not being used. I replace each of my incandescent light bulbs when they burn out with compact fluorescent bulbs and LED lighting. I have installed motion detectors to turn lamps on when I enter a room and turn the lights off when I leave the room. In other words I am making lifestyle changes that are simple, painless, and inexpensive. These are things that anybody can do. By making a few simple changes my electrical consumption is down from ten to twenty percent over the same period a couple of years ago.
As they have died, I have replaced my washing machine, clothes dryer (I hang my clothes out to dry whenever practical), refrigerator, and dish washing machine with Energy Star™ efficient appliances.
I also reclaim energy normally vented directly outside, through the use of air and heat exchangers. These devices capture the heat before it leaves the building and recycles it back into the building. In the case of my dryer, I can flip a switch and blow warm moist air directly back into my home in the winter.
If every one of us were to make changes in the way we manage electrical consumption in our homes and businesses as we are able, we would reduce our consumption of electricity each year. Such a practice really adds up in personal savings, and has the potential to reduce (or eliminates) the need for new power generating plants, translating into lower utility bills for you and me. This isn't idle speculation. Others around the world have learned to conserve energy successfully. If we are consuming less, we need less. If we need less, we will not need to build more power plants. Yes, it's really that simple.
The Michigan Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has analyzed the potential electricity savings that the State of Michigan could achieve through the adoption and implementation of an energy efficiency portfolio standard (EEPS) and a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 2008. The purpose of this analysis is to explore the potential long-term impacts of the energy efficiency and renewable energy policies in Michigan and to illustrate the scale of the potential savings.
The Michigan legislature has a wide variety of possibilities before it. What if the state decided to develop a energy efficiency policy that will ensure that Michigander's enjoy benefits for years to come. For the sake of discussion, what would happen if we reduced our electrical power consumption by a mere one-percent? An energy efficiency portfolio standard (EEPS) that achieves 1% annual savings by 2012 would actually decrease the 2025 demand for electricity in Michigan by over 14%, with an annual savings that could reach $11.77 billion
One-percent was easy enough to do. We can achieve one-percent by turning the lights off more often when we aren't using them. Now let's take a look at what would happen if we worked to reduce our use by two-percent. A 2% annual savings by 2015 could save Michigan almost 25% of its electricity demand in 2025, with a cumulative dollar savings through 2025 of $21.66 billion. It always costs less to not build, or produce, something. "These derived energy savings could be ploughed back to Michiganers in the form of tax incentives, dividends, or better still, alternative energy rebates if you were to install green power at your home or business." READ THE REPORT
A Bright Future?
Energy efficiency (Energy Star appliances, CFL and LED lighting, turning off power when it isn't needed, unplugging wall chargers when they aren't recharging a device etc.), combined with solar and wind power generation can eliminate or at least drastically reduce the need for traditionally-generated energy.
So I wonder... if the population isn't growing and if jobs are leaving Michigan, why is it that Big Coal is in such a rush to build ten new coal-fueled power base load plants at a cost of billions of dollars in Michigan? Can it be as environmental groups are telling us, that the simple fact of the matter is, these coal-fueled power plants will soon not be able to meet upcoming environmental regulations because they are so filthy, and contribute to disease, harm wildlife, and cause global warming? Once U.S. and international environmental regulations are in place, coal-fueled power plants simply can't be constructed without breaking the law—hence the rush to build while they still have a legal right to pollute.
These coal-fired power plants are built to operate for about sixty years. If all ten of the coal-fueled power plants are constructed as proposed, they would consume millions of tons of coal over the next sixty years. Coal company executives could earn billions of dollars off such a scenario, at your expense. You know what it feels like when you are pumping gas into your vehicle. Can you imagine paying excessively high rates for your electricity too?
19-June 2008 —Directly to the right you are viewing investment data at the Dow Jones US Coal Index on the Stock Exchange. Investment speculators are making tons of profit from coal, at your expense. Click the chart to view current activity. I'm not asking you to believe me. I asking you to examine the evidence and think for yourself. Do you still believe that coal is going to be a cheap fuel?
Now “Act”! Act as if your life, health, and life savings depended on you doing something—before it's too late!
Contact Your Michigan Legislature Today
Now is the time for the Michigan Legislature to make the choices that will define the state’s energy future for the next several decades. By choosing to prioritize energy efficiency, Michigan can save money for its residents and businesses to save, spend, and invest as they take part in the growth of a new green economy, and take its place among the states that have shown strong leadership in clean energy.
No coal-fueled power plant is worth disease, suffering, and global climate change—especially when there are safe, clean, and sensible alternatives in Michigan. With wind and solar, there are no costly fossil fuel inputs. The wind keeps blowing and the sun keeps shining, all free of charge.