Environment Michigan
The Grand Rapids Press
Jim Harger

GRAND RAPIDS – A state environmental group applauded and challenged U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow Thursday for her stance on federal air pollution laws.

In a press conference held on the banks of the Grand River, the group challenged Stabenow, D-Lansing, to support tougher emission standards for coal-fired power plants.

Michigan's power plans emit more toxic mercury pollution than power plants in 40 other states, said Jessica Surma, Federal Field Associate for the Environment Michigan.

Citing 2010 data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency, Surma said Michigan's power plants emited 2,253 pounds of mercury pollution. The J.H. Campbell Generating Plant in Ottawa County is the state's 5th largest mercury polluter, she said.

“Parents in Michigan shouldn't have to worry that their children's bodies are toxic dumping grounds,” said Surma, who was joined by Erik Nordman, a Grand Valley State University professor.

Nordman said the new regulations would mercury emissions from power plants by 71 percent at practically no cost to rate-payers.

Surma said they were singling out Stabenow because they objected to rules she had proposed for farm emissions. “They both related to air quality.”

Stabenow spokesman Matt Williams defended her record.

“Our Great Lakes are critical to our economy and our Michigan way of life,” he said. “That’s why Sen. Stabenow has long-supported efforts to reduce mercury pollution, which poses a serious threat to our lakes and waterways.”

Later in the day, Surma applauded Stabenow and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin for their votes against a measure that would have blocked the EPA from implementing a rule that requires upwind power plants to reduce soot and smog-forming pollution so people in downwind states can breathe cleaner air.