The smoke clouding Prop. 3
A look at DTE's coal connection
Published: October 17, 2012
All of which might explain why DTE is trying to scare Michigan residents into believing that they're going to be hit with a $12 billion bill if Prop. 3 passes.
A cynic might say that DTE is looking to protect its economic interests, not yours.
Or you could instead consider the viewpoint of the green-minded folks at the Michigan Environmental Council and other supporters of the 25 by 25 measure. They point to a just-released report by energy experts Martin R. Cohen and George E. Sansoucy, who concluded that, if Prop. 3 passes, it would "cost an average of 50 cents per month for residential ratepayers between 2015 and 2025."
Even if you question that analysis, there is the fact that the proposal itself limits any potential increases related to alternative energy to just 1 percent per year.
In 2008, the Michigan Legislature passed a law requiring the state's utilities to obtain 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2015. As far as we can tell, everyone thinks we are on track to meet that goal.
As a result of that law, we are one of 29 states that have established so-called "renewable portfolio standards." According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens Research Council based in Detroit, Michigan's standards are among the "least aggressive" of any implemented.
Passage of Prop. 3 would help move us toward the front of the pack.
Part of the economic reason for doing so, argue environmentalists and others who support the measure, is that renewable sources such as wind — which has the most potential in terms of clean energy for Michigan — cost less once they are paid for.
Compare that to aging facilities like the River Rouge plant that only become more of a burden as time goes on. They are expensive to maintain, and expensive to update to comply with ever more stringent regulations.
And they come with other costs that are difficult to quantify.
Costs in terms of heart attacks, asthma attacks and premature deaths that are caused by the poison that spews from smokestacks. Costs in terms of drought and crop failures that are already being experienced as the effects of global warming begin to show themselves.
And costs in terms of quality of life, and how it is degraded for those who live near massive facilities such as the River Rouge plant.
Alisha Winters, a River Rouge activist and mother featured in the photo essay noted, "If you circle around this community, you'll see a lot of people on oxygen, or with cancer. All of us are affected by the coal and by the fumes."
So, you can believe people like her when they say Prop. 3 is a good thing, and should be passed.
Or you can believe DTE and vote no.
A lot of money is being spent to convince you to do just that.
But as far as we can tell, they are mostly just blowing smoke.
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