coal

Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, a renewable energy company wants to build a wind farm in a forested part of the Upper Peninsula, but there’s resistance. Plus, the last coal plant providing electricity in the U.P. shuts down.


Tracy Samilton also spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about the issues surrounding the transition to natural gas

The President of the United States says coal is coming back, but in reality coal is going away.

The fight is over what will replace it.

Even utilities are dumping coal. In Michigan, DTE Energy wants to shut down three coal-burning power plants and replace them with a billion dollar natural gas plant.

But environmentalists think there's a better way.  

President-elect Donald Trump has called global warming "a very expensive hoax," despite agreement among the vast majority of climate scientists that climate change is happening now and is mainly human-caused. Trump has also put climate change skeptic Myron Ebell in charge of his EPA transition team.

We know that burning coal produces greenhouse gases that cause global warming. But it's also a big source of other types of air pollution that can cause disease and even death.

Around the country, dozens of coal-burning power plants are racing to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency rules to keep mercury out of the air.

In Michigan, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are both spending roughly $2 billion to comply with new air rules.

Tom Carr

The largest coal-fired passenger ship still operating in the United States is the S.S. Badger in Lake Michigan. It’s a beloved 1950s car ferry that sails between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

For years it was the subject of an environmental controversy because it was polluting the lake.

This year, that’s changed.


The coal industry and conservative politicians say new carbon rules for coal-burning power plants will kill the industry, and they warn that without coal, extreme weather events, like last year's polar vortex, could leave people in the cold and dark. But how well does this argument hold up?

The cost of electricity could jump dramatically next month in the Upper Peninsula.

Residents there might have to start paying to keep a coal plant open that isn't entirely needed anymore. The increase will be a harsh blow to a region that struggles economically.

Brimley is a little town at the end of the road on Lake Superior’s south shore. There’s a bar, a casino and a couple motels. Brimley State Park draws campers here in the summer and into Ron Holden’s IGA grocery store.

"Basically the six weeks of summer pay for the rest of the year’s bills, " he says. On the wall of the IGA are deer heads, a black bear rug, and a flag that says, ‘American by choice, Yooper by da grace of God.’

But being a Yooper might cost more starting December 1. Holden expects his store’s electric bill will be $700 a month higher and he has no idea where he’ll get that money.

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration says it will ask for a lot of flexibility to meet new federal clean air goals. The federal government wants to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent over 15 years.

Dan Wyant, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, says the goal attainable if the federal government lets Michigan figure out how it’s going to get there.

Governor: More Renewables, Less Coal

Dec 19, 2013

Governor Rick Snyder says it’s time for state lawmakers to set new energy goals for Michigan. He says those goals should include burning less coal and increasing renewable energy production over the next decade.

Snyder outlined a broad set of goals for energy policy between now and 2025 during a roundtable Thursday in Detroit.

WE Energies

A coal plant in Michigan's Upper Peninsula will not power homes and businesses below the Mackinac Bridge. Wolverine Power Cooperative announced today it is dropping a plan to invest in the Presque Isle Power Plant.

Wolverine Power supplies electricity to rural areas in lower Michigan through utilities like Cherryland Electric and Great Lakes Energy. Wolverine was planning to become a joint owner of the Presque Isle plant in Marquette. The coal plant is almost 40-years old and needs expensive upgrades.

Holland To Phase Out Coal

Dec 19, 2013

The city of Holland will phase out the burning of coal to generate electricity. Holland reached a settlement with the Sierra Club to stop burning coal in one of three units at its city-owned power plant in 2016. The other two units will be off coal in ten years.

The Sierra Club claims the DeYoung plant is pumping out air pollutants at 3.5 times the limit set by the EPA to protect public health.

Sierra Club had challenged coal burning permits issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to Holland and to Wolverine Power Cooperative based in Cadillac.