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Michigan court rejects pollution control challenge

World Coal,

The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected a challenge from the Sierra Club to two pollution control permits issued by the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to modify DTE Energy’s 3000 MW Monroe coal-fired power plant.

Sierra Club, whose campaigns target coal plants and mines across the US, claimed the DEQ failed to impose the appropriate one hour emissions limits for sufur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide at the Monroe plant, and did not consider the impact of particulate emissions on public health.

Sierra Club officials have challenged permits issued to the utility for over two years, first in 2010, and later in 2012. The permits allowed DTE to make adjustments at their Monroe plant to increase the efficiency of energy production and reduce air emissions.

Judges from the appeal court unanimously affirmed earlier court rulings that say the permits issued by the DEQ did not violate the Clean Air Act, as the environmental group alleged.

"The facts of the case do not support a finding that the [DEQ] erred," the court said. "The permits allow for modifications that will reduce overall NOx emissions by over 75% and SO2 emissions by over 90%. Thus, [DEQ’s] approval of the permits is consistent with the purpose of the Clean Air Act, which is to reduce pollutants."

As part of efforts to reduce particulate matter, DTE has invested about US$ 2 billion in the Monroe power station, including the installation of scrubbers to reduce SO2 emissions and mercury and new selective catalytic reduction systems on the four-unit plant to lower NOx emissions.

“When these additions are completed, we’ll be talking about best-in-class technology for reducing emissions,” said DTE spokesperson Randi Berris. “We followed the permitting process laid out by the state. The state did its due diligence and granted us the permits. And we’re very pleased the courts have upheld the decision to issue those permits.“

The Sierra Club has consistently pressured DTE to move away from coal-fired plants for energy production.

Edited from various sources by Katie Woodward

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