Effects of Coal Usage in Michigan and the Switch to Clean Energy

Despite the general public being aware of the consequences associated with the burning of fossil fuels, it is still a primary method of energy production. The burning of coal generates massive emissions of carbon dioxide, ultimately making it a noxious leader of climate change. This phenomenon hits right at home in Michigan as toxic chemicals are constantly being released into the air and our water supply. Michigan is home to an alarming 33 coal plants, and the state’s water supply is heavily polluted with toxic chemicals, right down to the fish consumers eat. In fact, 58% of Michigan’s energy comes from coal, yet there are no coal reserves in the state. This means that the state spends an unreasonable amount of money importing coal to keep up with the ubiquitous demand of Michigan consumers. How does this great consumption of coal in the state affect the health of the people? Primarily speaking, Michigan ranks 5th in the nation in premature deaths, hospital admissions, and heart attacks due to pollution from coal-fired power plants. This shocking position costs the state over $15 billion, which is much higher than Michigan’s expenditure in importing coal which is over $1 billion. Michiganders suffer from various diseases linked to poor air quality as a result of the use of coal which include asthma, cardiovascular disease, COPD, lung cancer, diabetes, autism, and more.

Asthma prevalence in Michigan is 25% higher than the national average as a result of the amount of coal used in the state. Moreover, Michigan has the sixth highest percentage of residents living with cardiovascular disease and COPD. Lung cancer and diabetes rates in Michigan are worse than over 30 other states as well. Michigan’s heavy coal use is leading to a great amount of inevitable air pollution, especially particulate matter. Particulate matter, a disease-causing carcinogen, is a combination of solid particles and liquid found in the air, which enters the bloodstream and lungs. This, along with heavily emitted nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants is a major contributor to not only Michigan’s dramatically increasing asthma and cancer rate, but to the nation’s as well. With that being said, why should we make the switch to clean, renewable energy, and what impact would this switch make on Michigan?

One of the most obvious results would be significantly fewer deaths, diseases, and hospital admissions, ultimately cutting down state expenditures on health-related costs. Air pollution would greatly decrease without the use of coal. Since coal is widely distributed and used in Michigan, turning to clean energy would eliminate the high costs of importing coal into the state. Michigan would become a leader in the change towards clean energy. Switching to clean energy and renewable sources will create thousands of new sustainable jobs and businesses, thereby stimulating economic growth in the state. Furthermore, renewable energy sources are significantly less expensive than fossil fuel usage. Most importantly, making the switch greatly reduces the high disease rates caused by coal and other pollutants. With clean energy, Michigan’s Great Lakes will be protected from power plant wastes that are dumped into the water, also making the water cleaner and fit for drinking. Despite the state’s current reliance on coal, Michigan is currently slowly converting to clean energy sources. In the future, Michigan will become an innovative leader in new technologies and the state will be a cleaner place to live.

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