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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Environmental groups want impact study on proposed biomass plant

From an article by Kathleen Foody in the Wausau Daily Herald:

ROTHSCHILD -- An environmental advocacy giant has entered the fray surrounding a proposed biomass power plant in Rothschild.

The Sierra Club's Wisconsin Clean Energy Campaign and the Clean Wisconsin advocacy group this week asked the state's Public Service Commission to complete an assessment of all the ways the plant could affect the local environment, from noise to potential air or water pollutants.

The biomass plant was proposed by Milwaukee-based We Energies and the Domtar paper mill, where the plant would be built. The $250 million project isn't subject to an automatic environmental impact statement under state statute, but the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin argued in their request that the commission should perform a study anyway.

Jennifer Feyerherm, director of the campaign, said the organization isn't taking a position for or against the plant, but said a study will provide useful information about the project.

"If we're going to make decisions about how we create the energy we use, we need as much information as possible," Feyerherm said.

The Public Service Commission still is in the process of conducting its own environmental evaluation to determine whether a formal study is necessary.

Requests for a study before the commission's own review is completed are premature, Brian Manthey, spokesman for We Energies, said.

"We continue to provide whatever the commission needs for their environmental assessment," Manthey said.

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