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MEDIA RELEASE



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     FOR MORE INFORMATION: 
                                                             Sally Billups, MEC (517) 487-9539
                                                                  Alex Johnson, (414) 271-7467
                                              Beverly DeCenso, ALAM 1(800)543-LUNG

NEW EPA PROPOSAL WOULD HELP CLEAR MIDWEST SKIES, SAYS
ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH GROUPS

LANSING, October 10 -- A federal proposal announced today to address
interstate transport of smog is a welcome breath of fresh air, according
to the Michigan Environmental Council, American Lung Association of
Michigan, West Michigan Environmental Action Council and East Michigan
Environmental Action Council.

The proposed rule, announced today by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), would cap and then reduce emissions of
nitrogen oxides, a precursor of ground-level ozone smog.  Over the next
six years, state-wide emissions in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and
Indiana would be reduced approximately 38 percent from 1990 levels. 
Most of the reductions would come from cost-effective controls on old
coal-fired power plants throughout the Central and Eastern United
States.

"While recent political discussion and Eastern press coverage has
focused on how much power plants in the "Midwest" may contribute to
smog conditions in the Northeast, the real story is here at home," noted
Tom Cary of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. "The main
winners in today's federal rule are people in our state and region who
will breath less polluted air from our own power plants." 

The EPA's proposal is based upon the recommendations delivered in
June to EPA by the Ozone Transport Assessment Group (OTAG) - a 37
state initiative formed to identify regional solutions to smog transported
across the Eastern U.S.  Reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from power
plants by 85 percent was endorsed and was found to provide the
broadest public health benefits at the least cost.  Michigan was one of
only five states in OTAG not to endorse these recommendations.  

"While Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin were committed to make the OTAG
process work and showed leadership in crafting these
recommendations, we were dismayed that Michigan did not endorse
them," said Sally Billups, policy specialist with the Michigan Environmental
Council. 

"We have serious air pollution problems throughout our region," said Alex
Johnson of the Citizens Commission for Clean Air in the Lake Michigan
Basin.  "On any given warm sunny day, at least one community in our
region is overwhelmed by smog.  On many days, our entire region is
blanketed by unhealthy air pollution."

"Largely uncontrolled power plants are the most significant source of
this smog, impacting communities hundreds of miles downwind," said
Billups.

Today's federal initiative follows on the heels of nearly two decades of
unsuccessful attempts to attain federal smog standards in Grand Rapids,
Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and northwest Indiana.  The problem has
become more urgent as federal smog standards were made more
protective in July of this year bringing more Midwest counties into
violation.  This proposal, however, is anticipated to bring most of these
communities back into compliance with air quality standards.  

"Several thousand respiratory room visits to Michigan hospitals every
year are attributed to high ozone levels," said Elliot Levinsohn of the
American Lung Association of Michigan (ALAM).  "Additionally,
emissions from these power plants contribute to the formation of fine
particle matter known as soot which causes up to 2,500 premature
deaths a year in Michigan."

The groups also noted that today's federal rules will provide other
benefits by putting pressure on older, coal-fired power plants to clean
up, shut down or switch to cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable
fuels such as wind energy.  These older plants, they noted, are up to
four times dirtier than new coal plants built today.

"The same outdated plants that contribute to the region's unhealthy
ozone smog also deposit mercury and other toxics into the Great Lakes,"
said Karen Kendrick-Hands, air policy specialist with East Michigan
Environmental Action Council. 


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