DTE Headquarters Hit With 3,600+ Petitions to Replace Dirty Coal Plants With Clean, Safe Energy
DETROIT, MI–(ENEWSPF)–November 15, 2013. Today outside DTE Energy headquarters, the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Michigan Campaign and Clean Water Action delivered more than 3,600 petitions calling on the coal-dependent utility to replace its plants with clean energy. More than 50 Oakland County businesses joined the statewide “DTE Hurts” campaign, which aims to unmask DTE’s harmful actions to public health.
“DTE would like people to think that clean energy is too expensive or too far in the future, but safe renewable energy like wind and solar is available now,” said sustainable business owner Vince Lee. “It’s not just a good business investment, but it’s also the right thing to do to protect Michigan families from coal plants.”
Two Oakland County doctors, Kathy Blumer, practicing pediatrician at Henry Ford Hospital, and Michael Harbut, founder of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, spoke at the press conference. Together they highlighted how emissions from coal-burning plants include dangerous toxins and how pollution from these plants has the ability to trigger asthma attacks and make such conditions worse.
“The public health consequences of burning coal constitute a clear and present danger to the people of Michigan,” said Harbut, who is also a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “DTE has a moral imperative to replace its coal-burning power plants with clean energy.”
Michigan’s Wayne County – home to the River Rouge Power and Trenton Channel Plants – has the highest number of pediatric asthma cases in the state, combined with the highest state population of those living in poverty. Close to 1.6 million pounds of hazardous chemicals are released into the air and water by DTE’s River Rouge coal plant every year by the many heavy industrial facilities there, making DTE one of the worst environmental justice offenders, according to the NAACP. The Clean Water Fund recently released a new report, “Toxic Trash Exposed: Coal Ash Pollution in Michigan,” which highlights the dangers that Michigan’s Great Lakes, including River Rouge residents face from coal ash pollution.
The American Lung Association reports that particle pollution from power plants is estimated to kill approximately 13,000 people a year in the United States. Clean Air Task Force data show that DTE’s coal plants contribute to 8,990 asthma attacks, 916 heart attacks and 572 deaths every year.
Meanwhile, DTE reported to state authorities that four of its seven coal-fired plants in Michigan are responsible for 1,499 violations of the Clean Air Act between 2007 and 2011. The Sierra Club is attempting to hold DTE accountable for its clean air violations through a federal lawsuit.
Last month, the Sierra Club launched its hard-hitting “DTE Hurts” advertising roll-out that included two Detroit-area billboards along highly visible commuter routes, M-39 and I-275; full-page and other print ads in the Ann Arbor News, the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News and the Oakland Press; and online ads statewide. The ads centered on the devastating health impacts of coal, telling DTE to “stop hurting Michigan families.” The Sierra Club also advertised at two University of Michigan home games this fall, encouraging Michigan to “get in the game” of clean energy jobs and not be outpaced by other states.
To view samples of the “DTE Hurts” ads, click here.