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Friday, April 1, 2011

Environmental groups challenge Valley plant's air pollution permit

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A new air pollution permit issued by state regulators for the coal-fired power plant near downtown Milwaukee doesn't go far enough to protect public health, environmental groups said Thursday as they filed challenges to the permit.

We Energies' Valley plant doesn't have modern controls to reduce emissions linked to soot, smog and respiratory health problems.

The state Department of Natural Resources recently issued a permit for the plant to keep operating without installing more controls.

Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin, backed by the Cleaner Valley Coalition, filed petitions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the DNR seeking changes to the permit. The DNR filing seeks a contested case hearing before an administrative law judge.

In light of new EPA standards, the Milwaukee utility is continuing to evaluate whether to add controls to the plant or switch the plant from burning coal to burning natural gas.

A decision on changes for the Valley plant, which provides steam to heat and cool downtown Milwaukee buildings, is expected this year.

"It's great that they're deciding. We need a decision now because Milwaukee air quality is bad now. And we're hoping they'll make the right decision and move away from coal because it's just going to get more expensive to continue to burn coal," said Jennifer Feyerherm of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "There are so many people living by that plant, and coal is too dirty to burn amid that many people."

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