LANSING, MI — Michigan Attorney General Jennifer M. Granholm, commenting on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed changes to air pollution rules governing coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, expressed deep concern over the Bush administration’s plan, saying it will weaken clean air standards and impede the state’s ability to require coal plants to upgrade their pollution control equipment.

According to Granholm, the proposed rule changes will allow industry to expand production and increase plant emissions without simultaneously investing in air pollution control equipment as required under existing federal law.

“Our state’s clean air and clean water laws exist to protect the health of our natural resources and the health of our citizens who enjoy them,” said Granholm. “The proposed rules represent a clear weakening of those laws — if we continue to chip away at them, eventually we won’t have effective laws left to enforce.”

Granholm noted that studies have shown that coal-fired power plant emissions cause 30,000 premature deaths, 20,000 hospitalizations, and 600,000 asthma attacks annually. The emissions also contribute to elevated mercury levels in all of the state’s rivers, lakes, and streams.

“The added annual health-related costs of these changes total more than $100 billion alone. Why should Michigan citizens pay higher health care costs and endure increased mercury pollution just to satisfy the special interests of the utility industry?”

Granholm said her office will assess the possibility of filing suit against the EPA to block implementation of the rules.

Publication date: 06/17/2002