Michigan

Detroit News: ELPC’s Learner Questions Why Mich. AG Schuette Continues Lawsuits Over Federal Mercury Rules

Snyder bows out as Schuette fights EPA pollution rules
By Chad Livengood

Lansing — Attorney General Bill Schuette continues to wage a court battle over the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury pollution controls for coal-fired power plants despite compliance by Michigan’s biggest utility companies and Gov. Rick Snyder disassociating himself with Schuette’s lawsuit.

Schuette has waged a three-year legal battle with the EPA to block implementation of the Obama administration’s Mercury & Air Toxins Standards with limited success.

In mid-June, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider Schuette’s latest challenge to the EPA’s rules requiring power plants to reduce mercury emissions. Last Friday, Schuette filed a new legal action in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia challenging an amendment the EPA made to its rules in April.

Schuette said Wednesday he’s fighting the way President Barack Obama’s EPA went around Congress to push the emissions restrictions onto states.

“This is a constitutional issue about does the administration have follow the Constitution or do you do things and bypass the Constitution with the issuance of rules and regulations,” said Schuette, a former congressman. “That’s what this is about. I think the Constitution is important. I’m not going to apologize for it.”

Attorneys general from 14 other states, including Ohio and Wisconsin, signed onto Schuette’s Friday court filing.

Snyder took his name off the latest lawsuit, meaning Schuette is no longer suing on behalf of the State of Michigan, but just on behalf of the “People of Michigan.”

“We disassociated with that,” Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said.

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Midwest Energy News: ELPC’s Learner Calls Mich. AG Schuette’s Continued Litigation Against Federal Mercury Standards “Baffling”

Michigan governor, AG at odds over federal pollution rules

By Andy Balaskovitz

For the second time in the past year, Michigan’s governor and attorney general — both Republicans — are at odds over legal challenges against federal rules aimed at cutting pollution from U.S. power plants.

On Friday, Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s cost calculations for limiting mercury pollution from power plants. Schuette is leading 14 other states in an ongoing challenge to the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which courts have not blocked the federal agency from implementing.

But instead of filing on behalf of the “State of Michigan,” as was previously the case, Schuette’s latest petition is done so under his name and “on behalf of the people of Michigan.”

For clean energy supporters, it’s a distinction with a major difference.

“We commend Gov. Snyder for stepping up and disassociating himself and the state of Michigan from the attorney general’s endless litigation challenging mercury pollution reduction standards,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center. “Unfortunately, Attorney General Schuette is still continuing his ideological litigation that would allow more mercury pollution to continue harming children’s health and our environment.”

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Greenwire: ELPC’s Learner Commends Gov. Snyder Distancing State of Michigan from AG Schuette’s Federal Mercury Standards Challenge

Gov. Snyder moves to ‘disassociate’ Mich. from MATS challenge
by Sean Reilly, E&E reporter
Monday, June 27, 2016

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has formally parted company with the state’s attorney general, Bill Schuette, also a Republican, over the latest legal challenge to U.S. EPA’s mercury regulations on power plants.

In an email to Greenwire this morning, Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton confirmed that the governor asked Schuette to “disassociate” the state from the lawsuit filed late last week over EPA’s supplemental finding to its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Even if the appeal were successful, “there would be no practical impacts,” Heaton said, citing the state’s own regulations on mercury emissions from power plants.

“There is no value to the citizens of Michigan in pursuing further legal action to challenge MATS,” she added.

As a result, the appeal filed late last week with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is brought in the name of “Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, on behalf of the people of Michigan,” not the “State of Michigan” (E&ENews PM, June 24).

The difference is not purely symbolic, said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Chicago-based advocacy group that had asked Snyder in March to seek to end the state’s participation.

First, the change “sends a strong signal” to the court that the governor of the state that was the lead party in the litigation “is reassessing his position,” Learner said. In addition, it makes clear to state attorneys general “that there is a political cost to endless litigation” over pollution standards that the public supports, he said.

A Schuette spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment today.

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Press Release: ELPC Commends Gov. Snyder for Withdrawing State of Michigan’s Challenges to Federal Mercury Pollution Reduction Standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 27, 2016 Contact: Judith Nemes (312) 795-3706
JNemes@elpc.org

Environmental Law & Policy Center Commends Gov. Snyder for Withdrawing State of Michigan’s Challenges to Federal Mercury Pollution Reduction Standards
Attorney General Schuette Continues His Litigation to Allow More Mercury in Air and Water

Lansing, Mich. — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is filing more litigation to challenge the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which is designed to reduce contamination of the Great Lakes, inland lakes and rivers, and protect children’s and maternal health. However, this time around, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has apparently withdrawn authorization for AG Schuette to file this lawsuit on behalf of the “State of Michigan.” So, AG Schuette late Friday filed litigation against the federal mercury pollution reduction standards on his own – or, as the caption on the lawsuit says: “Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on behalf of the People of Michigan.”

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to withdraw the State of Michigan from Michigan AG Bill Schuette’s continued litigation to delay sound mercury pollution reduction standards that will protect children’s health, clean air and safe water,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director.

“Mercury is a known neurotoxin that impairs children’s brain development and harms maternal health. It’s time for Michigan Attorney General Schuette to bring his litigation to an end and, instead, work hard to protect children’s health and safe drinking water supplies in Michigan. Consumers Energy and DTE have already installed pollution controls to comply with the mercury pollution reduction standards. The lessons learned from the Flint water contamination tragedy emphasize the importance of regulatory actions to reduce lead, mercury and other toxics in Michigan’s waters.”

“Attorney General Bill Schuette remains out of touch with the needs of Michiganders by submitting this new court filing once again,” said Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and an ELPC ally in the effort to move federal mercury standards forward. “We call on the Attorney General to remove the People of Michigan from this new lawsuit, as it’s clear that Schuette is not working in the best interest of Michiganders.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is now leading this new lawsuit without the State of Michigan in last Friday’s filing in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuit is likely to be combined with two previously-filed petitions for review of EPA’s supplemental finding that the MATS rule is appropriate and necessary. The court consolidated Murray Energy and the Anthracite Region Independent Power Products Association’s separate petitions. The 60-day deadline for filing petitions for review of EPA’s supplemental finding was June 24.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected AG Schuette’s attempt to immediately stay the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. In Friday’s filing, AG Schuette is now asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s supplemental finding that the MATS rule is appropriate and necessary.

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Crain’s Detroit Business: ELPC’s Learner Shares Letter to Mich. Gov. Snyder Urging AG Schuette to Withdraw from Federal Mercury Rules Lawsuit

Schuette presses on without Snyder support in opposition to EPA’s mercury rule

by JAY GREENE

Despite apparently losing support from Gov. Rick Snyder some time ago, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is continuing his opposition to the mercury pollution rules set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

On behalf of 15 other states, Schuette on Friday filed a petition for review of the EPA’s final mercury and air toxics standards rule with theU.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request by Schuette to hear the case again. The EPA published final rules April 25 on mercury in the Federal Register.

Environmental groups, including Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, and an opposing group of states have asked that Schuette drop the case for public health reasons. They also believe the EPA is well within its statutory authority to enforce its rule under the Clean Air Act.

But for some reason Schuette believes the Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit Court along with Consumers Energy Co. and DTE Energy Co. – utilities that have gone on record saying they are prepared to meet the EPA’s new rules – are wrong.In the case filing, Schuette named the petition, “Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, on behalf of the people of Michigan and the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas … .” Notice the wo rding is on behalf of the “people of Michigan,” not on behalf of the state of Michigan, as is the usual phrasing.

Ari Adler, Snyder’s press secretary, said Snyder never has supported any of the appeals of the mercury rules.

“Gov. Snyder is not involved in the current appeal, just as he was not involved in the previous appeals. That is why the Attorney General’s appeals are on behalf of the people of the state of Michigan, not the State of Michigan. Attorney General Schuette continues to make these arguments based on his own decisions,” Adler said in a statement to Crain’s.

In March, Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, sent Snyder a letter to implore him to have Schuette stop his lawsuit. He also wrote to Schuette, never getting a reply, he said.

Learner pointed out that mercury is a known neurotoxin that impairs fetal brain development, reduces children’s IQ and their ability to learn. He said the effect is similar to lead, which is now affecting many children in Flint based on the disastrous decision by the city, with the support of the state, to change water supplies from Lake Huron to the Flint River and not add anti-corrosives.

“Your and (Schuette’s) withdrawal of the State of Michigan’s challenge to the mercury and air toxics standards would show the people of Michigan your understanding of the importance of taking actions now to better protect children’s health, clean air and safe water,” Learner wrote to Snyder.

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Crain’s Detroit Business: ELPC’s Learner Discusses Flaws in Economic Study of Mich. Clean Power Plan Options

 

Seeking Answers on Emissions

By Jay Greene

The statewide and national conundrum over clean energy regulations could be partially solved by a tax on carbon producers or a system of tradeable permits for pollution producers, according to a new report.

A report by the Anderson Economic Group LLC in Lansing concludes that using a “cap and trade” or “carbon tax” approach in Michigan to comply with the proposed Clean Power Plan — the Environmental Protection Agency regulations to significantly reduce U.S. power plants’ carbon dioxide — would be costly for Michigan residents, raise business costs and act as a damper on economic development.

But doing nothing and allowing current energy production and efficiency trends to continue over the next decade will not reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants enough to comply with carbon reduction targets contained in the EPA’s proposed plan, said Patrick Anderson, the study’s author.
For two years, Michigan legislators have debated how best to replace the state’s 2008 energy law that mandated 10 percent renewable energy generation and set targets for energy efficiency savings. The law helped create 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power 1.3 million homes, and generate savings to rate payers of $4 billion, state officials have said.

But it appears Republicans, who hold a solid majority in the state Legislature, can’t agree on issues like customer choice, net metering, a strong integrated resource planning process (which, among other things, uses predictive modeling to estimate future energy costs) and how best to encourage utilities to replace coal with renewable energy or natural gas.

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Press Release: Federal Court Decision Protects Michigan’s Sylvania Wilderness Area in the State’s Upper Peninsula

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2016

Contact: Judith Nemes (312) 795-3706JNemes@elpc.org

Federal Court Decision Protects Michigan’s Sylvania Wilderness Area in the State’s Upper Peninsula
Key decision for protecting lakeshores and other wilderness places

Marquette, Mich. – A Federal District Court judge this week ruled in favor of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, its clients and the U.S. Forest Service to allow restrictions on the use of noisy gas-powered motorboats in the tranquil Sylvania Wilderness Area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The decision by Federal Judge R. Allan Edgar enables the U.S. Forest Service to continue enforcing a section of the Michigan Wilderness Act (MWA), which provides that the Sylvania Wilderness should be administered and protected as a pristine area in accordance with the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964. ELPC represented Sylvania Wilderness Cabins, Friends of Sylvania, and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition in the suit.

“Judge Edgar’s commonsense decision makes clear that the pristine Sylvania Wilderness should be protected from the noise and disruption of motorboats,” says Jennifer Tarr, ELPC Staff Attorney.

The court concluded: “Based on the plain language of the relevant sections of the Wilderness Act and the MWA, it is clear that Congress intended that the U.S. Forest Service would regulate motorboat usage to the extent necessary to preserve the nature and character of Sylvania.”

In addition, the ruling stated: “the Plaintiffs in this case had no pre-existing right to use motorboats on the lake. They purchased the property in 2010 – 23 years after Congress enacted the MWA, and 14 years after Amendment Five had been in effect.”

A homeowner on Crooked Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness of Michigan challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s amendment to the Michigan Wilderness Act of 1987 that enabled the government to protect that area in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964.

“This is an important victory in the court that sets a precedent for protecting the Sylvania Wilderness Area and the other wild and special places around the Great Lakes and Midwest,” says Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director.

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ELPC Science Advisory Council Member Joel Blum’s Op-Ed in Free Press Calls on Michigan AG to End Fight Against Mercury Standards

DetroitFreePress
Schuette Rebuff Should End Fight Against Mercury Standards

By Joel D. Blum and Dr. Sharon Swindell

This week the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s latest effort to block federal mercury standards. We ask the Attorney General, after four years of fighting, to let it go. Let’s embrace mercury limits, not fight them. As a scientist and a pediatrician, we are deeply troubled when the futures of children are jeopardized because science is cast aside, and decisions are made based on politics and bureaucracy.

Mercury, like lead, is a neurotoxin. Also like lead, mercury is most harmful to children and can impact fetal development leading to a lifetime of harmful effects on language, memory, visual-motor skills, and attention. Most mercury exposure comes from the consumption of fish. In short, mercury emissions from industrial sources like power plants are deposited on land and water where some is converted to methylmercury. This highly toxic form of mercury enters food chains and bio-accumulates in fish. When people eat contaminated fish they ingest and accumulate methylmercury in their bodies. Pregnant women share that mercury with highly vulnerable fetuses.

The real and present danger of mercury in Michigan fish has resulted in fish advisories for nearly every lake and river in our state. These advisories, developed through collaboration between Michigan State Agencies, identify fish species that should be limited or completely avoided. Data show high mercury levels in fish consumed in the Great Lakes region and species with the highest mercury include locally-caught walleye, bass and pike and locally-bought swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish.

But fish is too good a source of nutrients to give it up completely — and many types of fish have low levels of mercury. The EPA and FDA jointly offer recommendations online for fish with lower mercury levels that can be found in stores, including salmon, pollock and cod.

Schuette’s argument for fighting mercury standards has been that the measure would cost Michigan ratepayers. Yet our state’s large coal-plant owning utilities like Consumers Energy and DTE have filed documents saying they are moving forward with mercury controls. While Michigan’s plants are on track to emit less mercury, if successful, Schuette’s efforts would allow plants in other Midwestern states to keep releasing mercury that deposits in Michigan’s lakes, rivers and streams contaminating our fish.

We know mercury contamination threatens our children’s futures. As weather warms, and parents take their children fishing, let’s commit to a future when it will be safe to eat what we catch. Let’s work for a future when parents don’t have to worry about exposing their children to unsafe levels of mercury. Schuette should end his effort to block limits on mercury emissions. Michigan’s children need an advocate in the Attorney General’s office.

Joel D. Blum is professor of Earth & environmental sciences at the University of Michigan. Dr. Sharon Swindell, MD, MPH, is a clinical assistant professor at Ypsilanti Pediatrics in the University of Michigan Health System. The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of their employers.

Read at the Free Press 

MLive: Michigan Mercury Pollution Rule Challenge Rejected by Supreme Court

Note: The following MLIVE story on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s failed attempt to push forward a lawsuit trying to stop new US EPA mercury standards highlights a letter written by members of Michigan’s scientific community, including a lead signer who is also a member ELPC’s Science Advisory Council, that was delivered to AG Schuette’s office last week. Here’s the excerpt:

“State and national environmental groups were highly critical of Michigan’s challenge, arguing that Schuette was putting business interests ahead of regulations to protect children’s health, clean air and clean water. Last week, more than 50 Michigan scientists asked Schuette to drop the case.”

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Detroit Free Press: Supreme Court Rejects Michigan AG’s 2nd Shot at EPA Mercury Rules

Note: The following Detroit Free Press story on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s failed attempt to push forward a lawsuit trying to stop new US EPA mercury standards highlights a letter written by members of Michigan’s scientific community, including a lead signer who is also a member ELPC’s Science Advisory Council, that was delivered to AG Schuette’s office last week. Here’s the excerpt:

“Many power plants across Michigan and the U.S. had already started to implement the changes required by the regulation at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision last June and did not reverse course. Meanwhile, more than 50 Michigan scientists last week asked Schuette to drop his opposition to the new federal standards.

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