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Richard Maltby, 03/1/08, Letter to the editor TRW

TRW Current News

As if dioxin is not enough, Midland is getting ready to dump mercury and other toxins on itself and the Saginaw and Bay counties and surrounding communities.

In response to LS Power and Dynegy’s coal-fired energy plant proposal the Midland Planning Commission should be advised to take lessons from Tom and Katherine Daniels, co-authors of "The Environmental Planning Handbook for Sustainable Communities and Regions," and members of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Tom Daniels is a Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Katherine Daniels works for the New York Planning Federation. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Albany.

Chapter 5 of the Handbook, "Planning for Sustainable Air Quality," details information for local planning for air quality. The Daniels say: "The comprehensive plan must establish the linkage between air quality, land use, and transportation systems. The plan should then show how proposed future development and transportation systems would impact local air quality in relation to federal air quality standards and the State Improvement Plan. A municipal or county comprehensive plan must also be coordinated with any Regional Transportation Plan drafted by the Metropolitan Planning Organization."

In solving existing and potential air pollution problems, the Midland Planning Commission should address the impact of the following factors: mercury, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, carbon monoxide, particulates, ozone-depleting chemicals, and carbon dioxide – all to satisfy public health requirements, global warming reduction and natural resources sustainability.

According to the Daniels, coal-fired electrical-generating plants are the leading source of airborne mercury pollution. Mercury can damage the nervous system and is fatal in large doses. The long-term solution is to phase out coal-fired plants in favor of natural gas-fired plants or friendly non-toxic alternative energy-generating facilities. In addition the effects of the coal trains on the communities impacted must also be addressed.

It would behoove the Midland Planning Commission to undertake this initiative before submitting its report to the Midland City Council.



Richard A. Maltby, AICP


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