Welcome to MI Air MI Health

Welcome to MI Air MI HealthWelcome to MI Air MI Health

ACtion for Mercury and Air Toxics standards (MATS)

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EPA’s weakening of mercury emission standards threaten public health, Great Lakes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 23, 2020

Contact: Gabby Abel, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606


LANSING – Sporting, health and conservation groups today voiced their strong concerns regarding the weakening of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards – opening the door for increased mercury and other dangerous pollution in our air and water, which could exacerbate the effects of COVID-19.


The Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) is a rule that regulates emissions of mercury and other dangerous air pollutants from coal and oil-fired power plants. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency changed how the benefits of mercury emission standards are calculated so that the economic cost takes precedence over public health gains.


“Fishing is a $2.3 billion industry in Michigan and the rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards is a direct threat to our beautiful Great Lakes,” said Dennis Eade, executive director of the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association. “An increase in mercury and other harmful pollutants in our air and water will have a devastating effect on human health, tourism, businesses and our state’s economy.”


“This rollback runs counter to centuries of scientific consensus on the health and environmental hazards of mercury,” said Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “The harmful effects of mercury on people and wildlife are well documented. Attacking federal mercury pollution safeguards has severe health impacts for Americans – particularly communities of color, who are already more likely to be exposed to higher rates of dangerous air pollution.”


“As a registered nurse, I see firsthand how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted patients with underlying conditions – such as asthma, and chronic heart and lung conditions,” said Kindra Weid, coalition coordinator of MI Air MI Health. “Relaxing the enforcement of regulations on mercury and other pollutants in the middle of a global pandemic is irresponsible and will have a dire impact on public health.”


“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were put in place as safeguards to protect the health of families, seniors and children from mercury and harmful pollutants produced by coal-fired plants,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “We urge the Trump Administration to abandon this ill-conceived and irresponsible plan and consider the public health consequences and the consequences on our Great Lakes before rolling back this important protection.”


Action for clean air

Health groups condemn Trump administration’s EPA rollbacks

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 20, 2020 
Contact: Rachel Perkins, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606  


LANSING – Health groups today issued the following statements criticizing President Trump’s decision to rollback regulations that forced coal-fired power plants to cut mercury and other toxic air pollution:


“Relaxing enforcement of these regulations in the middle of a nationwide crisis is irresponsible and will have a dire impact on air quality and public health, especially for asthma and allergy sufferers,” said Kathleen Slonager, RN, AE-C, CCH executive director of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America Michigan Chapter. “Michigan’s rates of asthma, lung and heart disease are significantly higher than other states, and we need leadership that understands the need to reduce pollution, not make it worse.”


“Pollution has serious consequences on public health, and we see every day how poor air quality impacts our residents with asthma, chronic heart and lung conditions, and other underlying health issues,” said Kindra Weid, RN, and coalition coordinator of MI Air MI Health. “Michigan is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to diseases linked to air quality, so President Trump’s dangerous decision will only continue to negatively impact our communities, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.”  

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Action for clean, renewable energy sources

Recommendation looms for DTE Energy plan that advocates and the public have called to reject

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 19, 2019

Contact: Rachel Perkins, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606


LANSING - Advocates from across Michigan have been calling on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE Energy’s long-term energy plan as the the case surrounding the plan comes to a close. On Friday, the judge overseeing the case will share her reading of the case and propose a recommendation to the Michigan Public Service Commission, which will give the final ruling early next year.

To date, more than 3,300 Michigan residents have submitted public comments and over 150 people attended the public hearing in June, the vast majority urging the Commission to reject DTE’s plan. Comments can be viewed on the MPSC website.


In addition, various health, environmental, conservation and clean energy advocates have also worked to raise awareness of the shortcomings of DTE’s plan and mobilized customers to make their voices heard. 

View the relevant blog posts, op-eds and other resources.


The following are statements from environmental, conservation, consumer and community organizations ahead of the MPSC’s decision:

“DTE gave solar and wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and demand response a passing nod, then went ahead and submitted a proposal dependent on dirty coal, outdated technology and old ways of thinking,” said Margrethe Kearney, Michigan Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Other utilities have plans that will send Michigan toward a clean energy future. DTE’s plan threatens to send us backward.”


“DTE’s long range energy plan was riddled with flaws and failed to fully embrace the promise of affordable, clean and renewable energy for Michigan’s residents,” said Charlotte Jameson, Program Director for Legislative Affairs and Energy Policy for Michigan Environmental Council. “The Commission should reject DTE’s IRP and ensure the company comes back to the table with a plan that doesn’t undersell energy waste reduction and renewable energy nor unnecessarily extend the life of expensive, polluting coal plants.” 


“In 2019, we experienced two climate disasters, the toxic release from Marathon during the polar vortex and the collapse of a uranium contaminated site due to rising lake levels. Michigan deserves a plan to ensure safe and healthy energy in an age of climate crisis and DTE failed to provide that,” said Michelle Martinez, statewide coordinator for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. “We need a bold energy plan not only for black and brown communities on the frontlines, but for all people struggling with rising rates and rising waters.”


“DTE’s energy plan will not lower our energy bills, because it does not do enough to boost clean and efficient energy, and it too slowly transitions away from big, expensive fossil fuel plants,” said Nick Occhipinti, government affairs director for Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “With the threat of climate change looming, it’s time for DTE to turn its words into action and commit to clean energy and energy efficiency instead of building new fossil fuel plants. DTE can do better.”


"Air pollution from coal-fired power plants places a disproportionate burden on our most vulnerable citizens: children, seniors and those with serious health conditions,” said Kindra Weid, RN and coalition coordinator of MI Air MI Health. “While DTE plans to reduce some of its coal-powered fleet in the coming years, a significant amount of its energy will continue coming from dirty coal through 2040. We find this unacceptable and encouraged the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE's IRP."


“DTE's long-term energy plan has faced months of input and opposition because it is a chance to redefine Michigan energy,” said Ariana Gonzalez, Senior Energy Policy Analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We cannot waste this opportunity to ensure Michigan's energy future is clean, affordable and reliable.”


“Instead of protecting clean water, clean air and our communities, DTE chooses to invest in their pocketbooks by doubling down on expensive, polluting fossil fuels," said Theresa Landrum, Detroit resident and activist with Sierra Club. “We call on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE's polluting energy plan. Alternatively, we ask the MPSC to require them to design a plan that protects Michiganders and those living in the most heavily impacted communities by investing in cheaper and cleaner renewable energy sources, efficiency programs, and storage technology.”


“DTE has offered Michigan residents a false choice in its integrated resource plan by portraying clean energy as inherently in conflict with affordability and reliability,” said James Gignac, Lead Midwest Energy Analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The purpose of the IRP process is to evaluate different alternatives, but DTE sidestepped that to the detriment of its customers, many of whom bear high energy burdens and face costly electricity bills. The Michigan Public Service Commission must ensure the company revises its plan to put cleaner, lower-cost energy sources at the forefront.”


“If DTE is allowed to move forward with this expensive, polluting plan, Michigan will continue to fall behind its neighbors like Minnesota,” said John Delurey, Midwest Director for Vote Solar. “At the end of the day, the costs of our continued dependence on fossil fuels — financial, health and otherwise — fall most heavily on Michigan's disadvantaged and low-income families. That’s not right. The MPSC has a duty to protect everyone from DTE’s reckless proposal.”

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Action for climate change

NURSES, HEALTH PROFESSIONALS COMMEND GOV. WHITMER’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019

Contact: Nick Dodge, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606


LANSING – Nurses, health professionals and public health advocates today applauded Gov. Whitmer for highlighting the importance of addressing climate change in her State of the State address. This follows Gov. Whitmer’s recent announcement on the reorganization of the Department of Environmental Quality and creation of the Office of Climate and Energy.


“Climate change causes extreme weather that exacerbates the impacts of asthma, lung and heart disease and other respiratory conditions, which is why we need urgent action to reduce pollution in our air,” said  Kathleen Slonager, RN, AE-C, CCH, executive director of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America Michigan Chapter. “We applaud Gov. Whitmer for making combating climate change a priority in her address this evening.”


“Gov. Whitmer understands the serious threats climate change poses to the health of Michigan families, children and seniors,” said Kindra Weid, RN, coalition coordinator for MI Air MI Health. “We thank Gov. Whitmer for taking a head-on approach to tackling climate change and protecting public health.”


“From more frequent and severe extreme weather events to increases in disease-bearing insects, climate change poses significant threats to the health of Michiganders. We applaud Gov. Whitmer for recognizing the impacts of climate change and taking steps to address it,” said Mara Herman, health policy specialist for the Ecology Center.

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Action for clean car standards

Nurses, health advocates denounce proposed rollback of clean car standards

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018

Contact: Nick Dodge, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606


DEARBORN, Mich. – Nurses and health advocates today spoke out against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rollback of federal fuel efficiency standards at a federal public hearing in Dearborn. 


"We must maintain the clean car standards that reduce dangerous tailpipe pollution that threatens the health of Michiganders,” said Kathleen Slonager, RN, AE-C, CCH, executive director of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation, Michigan Chapter.  “As health professionals, we have a duty to challenge policies that are harmful to public health, and this rollback would have significant health implications for children and seniors living in low-income communities."  


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are holding three public hearings across the country to gather public input on the EPA’s proposed rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards. President Trump formerly announced his proposal to roll back the standards in early August.


“Motor vehicles remain a major source of air pollution that can lead to illness and premature death, and the transportation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States,” said Kenneth Fletcher, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Michigan and Ohio. “Adopting and enforcing America’s existing, health-protective clean car standards is vital. Weakening these standards is out of step with our responsibility to protect public health.”


Michigan is home to some of the nation’s most-polluted zip codes, and the clean car standards finalized during the Obama Administration are designed to help safeguard public health by improving fuel efficiency and reducing tailpipe pollution.


“There is an overwhelming body of evidence linking transportation emissions to serious negative health outcomes, such as chronic heart and lung conditions, various cancers, neurological conditions, allergies, asthma, premature death and premature birth,” said Kindra Weid, RN and coalition coordinator for MI Air MI Health. “Sadly, the health impacts of exposure to tailpipe pollution are not evenly distributed throughout the population; they disproportionately affect people living in low-income communities and people of color.  Infants and senior citizens, as well as those with pre-existing heart or lung conditions are particularly vulnerable. Rolling back the climate and clean air protections provided by the Clean Car Standards will create more public health problems in Michigan and will cost lives.”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018

Contact: Nick Dodge, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606

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action for clean power plan

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Health professionals and advocates blast Trump Administration’s Clean Power Plan rollback

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018  Contact: Nick Dodge, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606  


LANSING – Michigan Health professionals, experts and advocates today blasted the Trump Administration’s proposal to roll back the Clean Power Plan, a 2015 executive action under the Obama Administration aimed at reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants and curbing the effects of global warming.  


“Today’s announcement is a major step backward for the health of communities in Michigan and across the U.S.,” said Kindra Weid, RN, coalition coordinator for MI Air MI Health. “Giving states free reign to allow dirty, coal-fired power plants to continue spewing dangerous pollution into the air and water of communities across the country is unacceptable and an affront to public health.” 

 

The Clean Power Plan is a federal policy to reduce carbon dioxide pollution across the country by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Under the Trump Administration’s replacement rule, states would be allowed more leeway to set regulations for coal-fired power plants and are provided loopholes to opt out of emissions reductions.  


“Rolling back the Clean Power Plan flies in the face of proactive investments in clean, renewable energy that are happening by companies and communities across Michigan, and the real victims of this decision are vulnerable populations that live near coal-fired power plants,” said Mara Herman, health outreach coordinator for the Ecology Center. “Coal-fired power plants are harmful to the health of Michigan families, children and seniors and more expensive than cleaner alternatives like wind and solar. Rolling back the Clean Power Plan is misguided and a step in the wrong direction.”  


“Burning coal causes adverse health impacts like increased rates of asthma, lung and heart disease and other life-threatening diseases,” said Kathleen Slonager, RN, AE-C, CCH  executive director of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation Michigan Chapter. “Michigan has already made great strides toward shuttering coal plants and investing in clean energy, and we will continue to hold big utility companies accountable for reducing dangerous pollution in our air and water.” 


action for clean car standards

Michigan families can count on worse air pollution thanks to Trump rollback of clean car standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Contact: Nick Dodge, Byrum & Fisk Communications, (517) 333-1606 


Health advocates slam Trump, Pruitt plan to dismantle historic clean car standards.


LANSING – MI Air MI Health today said the Trump Administration’s plans to roll back historic clean car standards represents a major blow to Michigan families – especially children and seniors who are particularly vulnerable to air pollution.


“Rolling back the clean car standards represents a clear attack on the health of families in Michigan and throughout the nation,” said Kindra Weid, RN and Coalition Coordinator of MI Air MI Health. “Exposure to tailpipe pollution is a public health risk factor, especially in low-income communities, and the clean car standards provide one way to help ensure cleaner air for families, children and seniors.”


Weid noted that Michigan is home to some of the nation’s most-polluted zip codes, and the clean car standards finalized during the Obama Administration are designed to help safeguard public health by improving fuel efficiency and reducing tailpipe pollution.


“The clean car standards were designed in partnership with U.S. automakers to improve efficiency, which cuts back on tailpipe pollution and benefits public health, so rolling back the standards is simply bad policy,” said Weid. “The Trump Administration has made a clear statement today: The health of Michigan’s most vulnerable populations simply isn’t  their priority.”


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