Pollution discussion environmental activists meet about proposed dte power plant in dearborn news pressandguide.com electricity word search answer key

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Panelists included Nicholas Leonard ,an attorney with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center; Dr. Amy Schulz of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor School of Public Health; Andrew Sarpolis of the Sierra Club Detroit; J.C. Kibbey of the Union of Concerned Scientists; Farah Erzouki of ACCESS; Theresa Landrum, an activist and resident of Southwest Detroit; and Karima Alwishah, a University of Michigan-Dearborn student and south Dearborn resident. The panel was moderated by Michelle Martinez, coordinator of the justice coalition.

The meeting was held two months after an MDEQ public hearing regarding two proposals from power plant Dearborn Industrial Generation. A permit requesting a new combustion turbine generator was denied in late January due to negative reaction from the community. However, the second permit where DIG requested an increase in formaldehyde emissions, passed.

The permit from DTE is proposing a new power plant inside the Ford Research and Engineering Center. According to the MDEQ, the plant will include two natural gas-fired turbine generators. Connected to the generators will be duct burners, which produce more steam by creating additional heat.

In addition, the company plans to install “chilled and hot water systems, distribution systems, thermal energy storage, and a geothermal system designed to increase the efficiency of the chilled and hot water facilities,” according to a press release.

The facility is located at 1641 Carol Shelby Way East, about a half mile from Edsel Ford High School. If the permit passes, the generators will be installed by December 2019 or early 2020, said Fadi Mourad, director of environmental strategy for DTE’s Power and Industrial Group.

“This is just not about whether or not it’s going to create jobs for our community, but it’s about the fact that this plant will be a half mile away from a high school, one mile away from Snow Elementary and that it actually has an impact on children and the elderly,” she said. “So ask these decision makers to come stand with us, to look at public health as a way to understand how the permit is going to impact our people.”

Following an introduction to the panelists, Leonard gave a short presentation on three ways DTE and the MDEQ could improve the permit process and the facility. First, he said, the MDEQ should ensure all documents regarding the permit are in English and Arabic because of Dearborn’s high population of Middle Easterners.

Lastly, Leonard said, the facility should not emit pollutants that would require a startup and shutdown event. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a startup and shutdown event is when a facility elevates the amount of pollutants it releases during the opening and closing times of the plant. Leonard said the procedure is not usually applied when calculating a facility’s emission limit. For the DTE plant, the permit approved 136 startups and shutdowns.

Both Schulz and Erzouki spoke about the proposed health effects of the power plant. According to Schulz, natural gas releases 50 percent less emissions than coal and fossil fuels. However, she pointed out, the gas is not as clean as solar and wind energy.

“Carbon monoxide has been linked to respiratory problems,” Erzouki said. “Particulate matter, especially fine particles, will increase risks associated with respiratory problems including asthma, increased cardiovascular disease risks and premature mortality, especially among people who suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.”

However, according to a document from DTE, the company says the plant will produce less gas than Ford’s existing boilers. Overall, DTE projects a 98 percent decrease in carbon monoxide emissions, a 66 percent decrease in nitrogen oxide, and an 18 percent decrease in overall greenhouse gases.

“To the contrary, the effect of the entire project will result in improvements in air quality,” Mourad said. “The CHP permitting process we followed with the MDEQ is comprehensive and is designed to assess the impact of the project air emissions and compare it against health standards designed to protect the most sensitive population with a large margin of safety.”

“Our community is really sick,” she said. “Cancer in our families, kids not going to school because of asthma treatments, people not going to work because of asthma attacks. It costs our families a lot of money to be dealing with this kind of situation.”

“When families are struggling to pay their bills, it’s hard for them to think about the environment when it’s central to our lives,” she said. “But when we start realizing that it’s actually the air we breathe, even the land that we play on and the water that we drink, that’s when people will be motivated to take action.”