Clean Air Groups call on EPA to require Clean up at Minnesota’s Dirtiest Coal Plant

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 9, 2012
Contact:   Jeff Billington National Parks Conservation Association, 202-419-3717, jbillington@npca.org


Clean Air Groups call on EPA to require Clean up at Minnesota’s Dirtiest Coal Plant

Xcel’s Sherco Damages Air Quality for Midwesterners and their beloved national parks and wilderness areas

WASHINGTON, DC — In an effort to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do its  job and clean the air, the National Parks Conservation Association Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, Voyageurs National Park Association, Fresh Energy and Sierra Club have filed a Notice of Intent to Sue against the EPA for its failure to require adequate pollution controls at Xcel’s coal-fired power plant in Sherburne County, Minnesota, known as the Sherco plant.  The plant’s pollution is unhealthy for people and is a major contributor to the smog that obscures views in Minnesota’s beloved parks, including Voyageurs and the Boundary Waters. 

In 2009, the National Park Service (NPS) certified that the pollution from the Sherco coal plant is having a detrimental effect on Voyageurs and Isle Royale national parks. As a result, EPA must require the plant to install the best available pollution controls at this coal plant.  But three years after the certification, EPA has still not acted. While state regulators recently forwarded a haze clean-up plan to EPA for approval, that plan is deficient in numerous ways including its failure to adequately resolve NPS’s certification of pollution from Sherco. The state plan would actually allow three times more air pollution into the atmosphere than would be emitted from appropriate pollution controls from Sherco alone.

“The EPA has a duty to protect the clean, clear air over the Boundary Waters wilderness,” said Paul Danicic with the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. “The EPA action we’re asking for is long over-due. Xcel and regulators have known for years that pollution from Sherco is harming human health and the state’s natural resources.  It’s time to require the best pollution controls on this plant.”

“The people of Minnesota deserve clean air in their national parks and in the communities that surround them,” said Stephanie Kodish, NPCA clean air counsel. “This plant’s clean up should be part of the state’s current haze plan. By failing to act, EPA is allowing Sherco to continue to spew harmful emissions compromising people’s health and the ecosystems of our national treasures.  The EPA must require Sherco to clean up.” 

Clean air advocates had asked the state and EPA to make cleaning up Sherco part of the state air cleanup plan recently adopted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Board.  The agencies, however, said they would deal with Sherco, Minnesota’s biggest polluter, later.  EPA’s continued delay is unreasonable and places a burden on residents’ health as well as Minnesota’s iconic parks. The failure to resolve Sherco’s pollution certification as part of the state cleanup plan is a waste of public resources, delays important air quality improvements, and makes the current state cleanup plan out of compliance with federal regulations.

To ensure compliance with existing regulations and long lasting enjoyment and preservation of wildlife habitats and the health and well-being of the American public in our treasured national parks, we are calling on the EPA or, if necessary, a court to require EPA to take immediate action to remedy these violations by including pollution control requirements to resolve the NPS certification for Sherco in the Minnesota regional haze plan.

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