MSU Beyond Coal Rally and MDNRE Hearing

Last Thursday was a busy day for  MSU Beyond coal. Even though students were faced with freezing winter winds , they still came out to show support for the campaign. Early  Thursday morning,  students headed out to the Michigan Department of Natural Resource and the Environment (MDNRE) along with several other student organization including,  MSU ECO, MSU Greenpeace, MSU Beyond Coal,  MSU GreeNation, Sierra Club and Global Exchange.

The hearing was being held because:

  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (MDNRE) alleges that there were violations of Michigan State University’s air permit for the coal plant on the MSU campus. MSU does not have to admit to violations.  Violations occurred in early 2008. Public was not notified until a Consent Order was drafted and agreed by the MDNRE and MSU in principle in November 2009.  The Public actually suffered damages and was harmed by MSU alleged violations.
  • MDNRE and MSU will enter in a Consent Order unless there is substantial public comment. Consent Order has been largely implemented prior to Public Notice, the Comment period or the Public Hearing.  That means that we did not have the opportunity to participate in the process.
  • The Consent Order is voluntary. It is mutually agreed upon by the parties.
  • MSU has agreed to a minimum of compliance isssues in the Consent Order. This agreement does not eliminate Coal from the fuel mixture at MSU
  • MSU has the capacity today to stop burning coal and use a combination of Natural Gas and Biomass today.
  • MSU will pay $27,000 to MDNRE for alleged violaions

Students present at the hearing  were in opposition to the consent order for two reasons

1. The process for meaningful public particicpation has passed
a. Public was not notified of “alleged” violations in timely manner
b. Consent order was implemented before public input
c.Written comments due February 17, one week before the Public Hearing on February 25

2.  Remedies in consent order do not address alternatives such as stopping coal burning completeley, or stopping coal buring in Unit 3 and a switch to natural gas and biomass combination.

  • Simply implementing a quality assurance plant for purchasing coal from Appalachcia is not as protective as stopping coal use entirely, switching to Western low sulfur coal, or using biomass in the facility.
  • SO2 and NOX violations should include pm 2.5 safety guidleines
  • $27,000 for MDNRE can include an equal amount of money to assess renewable options for MSU to replace coal as primary fuel source
  • Capital improvements to MSU coal infrasttructure-building a structure over coal pile for Unit 4 is best spent on increasing renewable energy infrastructure
  • MSU has not met its own internal goals of reducing CO2 on campus.
  • Environmental Justice Issues are not addressed in consent order

Msu Beyond Coal wants the University to look at solutions that include a range of options other than coal to meet MSU energy needs in the next decade.

In addition, on Thursday, MSU Beyond Coal was part of a rally in front of the Administration building, and a Call In for a Clean Energy Campus!


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