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Distinguished PSR Members Speak Out Against Coal

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on January 27, 2009

PSR’s Code Black campaign kicked off 2009 by presenting the medical case against the eight, count ’em eight coal plants proposed for construction in Michigan. 

A public hearing was held Jan. 6 on the air quality permit for the Rogers City plant.  That same morning, the Detroit Free Press ran an op-ed article by two distinguished PSR members. 

  • Howard Hu M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D., is chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Professor of Environmental Health, Epidemiology and Medicine at the University of Michigan Schools of Public Health and Medicine. 
  • Kenneth Rosenman, M.D., is the chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and is a Professor of Medicine in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. 

In their op-ed, the two noted that construction of the eight plants proposed for Michigan would “gravely impair Michigan’s air quality and expose our communities to severe, even lethal health impacts.”

Dr. Howard Hu

Drs. Hu and Rosenman cited the mercury contamination that blights Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie and many of Michigan’s lakes and rivers.  They also asked the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to take into account the approximately 1,930,000 Michigan children under the age of 18 who already live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.  Over 105,000 of those children already suffer from pediatric asthma.   

Dr. Kenneth Rosenman speaking at pre-hearing press conference

Noting that coal-fired plants generate roughly 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., the  experts also warned that unchecked CO2 emissions could put Michigan and the world at risk of climate changes, extreme weather, flooding, and infectious disease.

Later that same day, Dr. Rosenman presented testimony before the DEQ.  As a pediatrician, he focused on the high incidence of pediatric asthma in Michigan, cautioning that additional coal-fired plants would worsen the asthma epidemic.

Community anti-coal activists turned out in force, filling to overflowing a meeting room that holds some 80 people.  The hearing was so full that people had to be assigned numbers so they could come into the room to testify.

Dr. Rosenman also spoke at a press conference before the hearing.  Over 12 media outlets including print outlets and TV stations attended the press conference.  “Having the op-ed come out that day really helped us get on the media radar,” commented Monica Patel of the Ecology Center, PSR’s local partner in Michigan.

Local Michigan activists in Code Black teeshirts spoke out
against the proposed plant.

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