Advisory: Key Hearing to Vote on Minnesota’s First Large-Scale Solar Project

Contact:

Alison Flowers, Sierra Club, 303-246-6297, alison.flowers@sierraclub.org

Kevin Reuther, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 612-210-0211, kreuther@mncenter.org

 

Key Hearing to Vote on Minnesota’s First Large-Scale Solar Project

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to decide whether to allow Xcel Energy to replace the coal-fired power generation units at its Black Dog facility with solar power

Three months after a Minnesota judge ruled that Geronimo Energy’s solar bid was “the greatest value to Minnesota and Xcel Energy’s ratepayers,” the Public Utilities Commission will decide whether to choose the Edina-based solar company’s proposal to build 20 large solar power arrays across the state over several natural gas proposals. The Geronimo solar project would bring eight times more solar energy than is currently installed statewide, creating new high-skilled, high-wage jobs for Minnesotans.

In 2013, Minnesota established solar policies that will mean 34 times more installed solar capacity in 2020 than today. Clean energy, including solar, has bipartisan support in Minnesota, and the majority of state voters favor it. According to The Solar Foundation’s recent Minnesota district-level jobs report — Minnesota Solar Jobs Census — there were 864 solar workers in Minnesota in 2013, an increase of nearly 73 percent since the foundation last produced solar figures for 2012.

WHAT: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission meeting, vote on Geronimo Energy’s solar bid (agenda and live webcast)

WHEN: Thursday, March 27th, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, Saint Paul, MN 55101-2147

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RELEASE: Minnesota Power Put On Notice for More than 12,500 Clean Air Act Violations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 24, 2014

Contact:

Alison Flowers, 303-246-6297, alison.flowers@sierraclub.org

Michelle Rosier, 651-214-9915, michelle.rosier@sierraclub.org

 

Minnesota Power Put On Notice for More than 12,500 Clean Air Act Violations

 

DULUTH, Minn. — Today the Sierra Club is putting Minnesota Power on notice that the utility is accountable for 12,774 violations of the federal Clean Air Act at its Clay Boswell, Taconite Harbor, and Syl Laskin coal plants over the last five years, threatening public health. Although the Sierra Club first filed its notice of intent to sue Minnesota Power last year, the three plants continue to neglect clean air safeguards.

The Sierra Club found that, according to data collected by Minnesota Power itself, the three plants have violated their limits on “opacity” more than 10,000 times. Opacity is a measurement of the degree to which light passes through a smoke plume; it is used as an indicator of particulate matter emissions, or soot. Soot pollution from burning coal can contribute to lung and heart disease, can exacerbate asthma problems, and has recently been linked to cancer by the World Health Organization. In addition, Minnesota Power has committed hundreds of violations of legal requirements related to the operation of its pollution control equipment, including mercury controls, since 2009.

“These serious violations call into question whether Minnesota Power is willing or able to operate its plants within the national safety guidelines for public health,” said Michelle Rosier, Sierra Club Campaign and Organizing Manager. “Minnesota Power should immediately bring its plants within clean air standards and announce plans for how it will eventually replace its coal plants with cleaner sources of energy.”

Newly released 2012 data from The Clean Air Task Force estimates that the Clay Boswell, Taconite Harbor and Syl Laskin coal plants contribute to 367 asthma attacks, 36 heart attacks, and 23 premature deaths per year. The elderly, children and people with respiratory and heart disease are most at risk.

“I am deeply concerned for the children of Cook County and our beautiful, but fragile environment,” said Gordy Dodge, who lives in Schroeder, Minn. “Minnesota Power’s clean air violations make clear the need to plan for the responsible transition beyond dangerous coal plants.”

Minnesota Power draws over 80 percent of its power from burning coal. Last May, a Peak Campaigns poll found that two-thirds of voters in Minnesota Power’s service territory are concerned about the health risks associated with coal pollution. An even greater 74 percent of voters in Minnesota Power’s service area support replacing coal plants with clean energy.

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Release: New coalition will bring attention to Minnesota’s urgent transportation needs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2014

Contact:
Joshua Houdek, 612-207-2295, joshua.houdek@sierraclub.org
Justin Fay, 612-259-2450, justin.fay@sierraclub.org

Urgent transportation needs are risking Minnesota’s long-term economic health and ability to remain globally competitive for jobs and talent, according to Move MN, a new statewide coalition of more than 130 businesses, associations and organizations. The coalition is encouraging Governor Dayton and legislative leaders to make transportation a priority in 2014.

Move MN today launched its campaign to mobilize Minnesotans to make transportation funding a priority during the 2014 legislative session. The coalition will encourage the public as well as community and business leaders to contact legislators with one simple message: transportation has an immense impact on families, businesses and communities.

“Move MN is more than just fixing bridges and highways or improving access to transit,” said Ann Mulholland, vice president of the MN Community Foundation. “Our campaign is about moving Minnesota into the future with an infrastructure system that builds stronger, healthier communities and families.”

Sierra Club and its diverse allies in the Move MN coalition have all agreed to a set of principles that state that new funding for transportation must be from sustainable, dedicated revenue sources and must support equitable new investments in all transportation modes – transit, bike and pedestrian routes and connections, as well as roads and bridges, throughout the entire state.

The last time the state saw a significant infusion of new transportation funding was in 2008, when the legislature passed a small gas tax increase and a Twin Cities metro sales tax for transit. Since that time, funds are mostly now exhausted and cannot meet the growing demands on our systems.

In 2013, MnDOT could only fund one fourth of the state’s Safe Routes to Schools project needs. Only ten percent of jobs in the Twin Cities metropolitan area are conveniently served by transit, and nearly half of Minnesota’s roads and bridges are listed in poor or mediocre condition.

About Move MN

Move MN is a growing and diverse coalition dedicated to starting to erase Minnesota’s transportation deficit by securing a comprehensive transportation funding package during the 2014 legislative session. New funding will enable the state to properly maintain and improve transportation assets that expand access and opportunity for all and create living wage jobs.

For more information on Move MN, visit www.movemn.org.

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Advisory: True Costs of Minnesota Power Plant Pollution to be Evaluated at PUC Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 16, 2013

Alison Flowers, Sierra Club, 303-246-6297, alison.flowers@sierraclub.org

Jessica Tritsch, Sierra Club, 612-963-9642, jessica.tritsch@sierraclub.org

Beth Goodpaster, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 651-287-4880, bgoodpaster@mncenter.org

Kevin Reuther, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 651-287-4861, kreuther@mncenter.org

 

 

***MEDIA ADVISORY***

True Costs of Minnesota Power Plant Pollution to be Evaluated at PUC Hearing

 

Low pollution cost values, no longer supported by current science, have not been updated for nearly 20 years

Fossil fuel energy costs Minnesota $2.5 billion annually in health and environmental impacts

WHAT:  The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will hear testimony and decide whether to update the values used in utility energy plans that help determine the true costs of power pollution, including its toll on public health and the economy. In October, clean energy and environmental organizations petitioned the PUC to update pollution costs based on new research on how pollution contributes to death and disease.

The pollution costs have not been updated since the mid-90s, at which time they were hotly contested. Research over the last two decades has increased understanding on how pollution affects public health. A June 2013 “Health and Environmental Costs of Electricity Generation in Minnesota” report found fossil fuel power pollution costs Minnesotans $2.5 billion annually in health and environmental impacts – 94 percent of this impact is from coal pollution. Accounting for these hidden costs in utility energy plans would demonstrate how clean, renewable energy protects Minnesotans health, unlike fossil fuels.

WHEN:       Thursday, December 19th, 9:30am (Note: Item is 10th on agenda)

WHERE:     PUC Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Place E, 3rd Floor, St. Paul, MN 55101

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North Star Chapter Statement on Polymet Draft EIS Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 6, 2013

Contact:  Margaret Levin, 612-659-9124, Margaret.levin@sierraclub.org

Today, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Polymet’s proposed NorthMet Mine near Hoyt Lakes.  Sierra Club State Director Margaret Levin issued the following statement in response:

“Minnesotans care deeply about their water, air, forests and wild lands.  Polymet’s proposed sulfide mining operation threatens all of these.  We encourage all Minnesotans to carefully educate themselves about the proposed project and to take advantage of the opportunities for public comment announced today by the Department of Natural Resources.  In every other state where this type of sulfide mining has occurred, the result has been a perfect record of toxic water pollution and environmental destruction.  The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is committed to ensuring that Minnesota’s Arrowhead does not share in this unfortunate legacy.”

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 The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is the leading grassroots voice to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment.

Release: Beyond Coal Day of Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NOVEMBER 12, 2013

Contact: 

Alison Flowers, 303-246-6297, alison.flowers@sierraclub.org

Alexis Boxer, 203-885-3629, alexis.boxer@sierraclub.org

Grassroots Activists Hold 15 Events for Minnesota Beyond Coal Day of Action

 

Rallies, community conversations, movie screenings among action-taking events urging Minnesota utilities to move beyond coal to clean energy

Today parents, students, public health advocates and clean air supporters joined forces for the Minnesota Beyond Coal Day of Action with 15 events across the state from Ely to Northfield and Morris to St. Cloud and Minneapolis, ranging from movie screenings to rallies to panel discussions and community conversations. At each event, action-takers made phone calls and participated in photo petitions, urging utilities, such as Minnesota Power and Xcel Energy, to move away from fossil fuels.

“Students like me have a powerful voice that utility companies need to start listening to,” said Shira Breen, a student at South High School in Minneapolis. “It’s up to us and our generation to move beyond coal to clean energy in Minnesota. If we let big polluters like Xcel Energy’s Sherco go unchecked, it will be too late for our climate and too late to protect the health of our communities. We can’t wait any longer. Our clean energy future is now.”

Minnesota is on track to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. In 2013, the state established renewable energy policies that will mean 34 times more solar power in 2020 than today. Meanwhile, the majority of Minnesota’s electricity still comes from burning coal, an outdated and dirty energy source that pollutes the air and water, sickens communities and sends billions of dollars out of state.

“It’s clear that Minnesotans across the state are ready to move beyond coal,” said Michelle Rosier, senior campaign manager for the Minnesota Beyond Coal campaign. “Now it’s time for Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power to step up to the plate and help make that happen.”

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Tomorrow: Beyond Coal Day of Action

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR NOVEMBER 12, 2013

Contact: 

Alison Flowers, 303-246-6297, alison.flowers@sierraclub.org

Alexis Boxer, 203-885-3629, alexis.boxer@sierraclub.org

Grassroots Activists to Hold 12+ Events for Minnesota Beyond Coal Day of Action

Rallies, community conversations, movie screenings among action-taking events to urge Minnesota utilities to move beyond coal to clean energy

WHAT: Parents, students, public health advocates and clean air supporters are joining forces for the Minnesota Beyond Coal Day of Action Tuesday, Nov. 12, with more than 12 events across the state ranging from movie screenings to rallies to panel discussions and community conversations. At each event, action-takers will make phone calls and participate in photo petitions, urging utilities, such as Minnesota Power and Xcel Energy, to move away from fossil fuels.

Minnesota is on track to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. In 2013, the state established renewable energy policies that will mean 34 times more solar power in 2020 than today. Meanwhile, the majority of Minnesota’s electricity still comes from burning coal, an outdated and dirty energy source that pollutes the air and water, sickens communities and sends billions of dollars out of state.

WHERE/WHEN:

Cambridge: 10:00 a.m. to noon action event at Cambridge City Park, 810 Second Avenue SW (map)

Dakota County: 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. action night at Wentworth Library, 199 Wentworth Ave E, St Paul (map)

Duluth: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. action table at UM Duluth, UMD Student Union (map)

Duluth: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. action night at Amazing Grace Cafe, 394 South Lake Avenue (map)

Ely: Noon to 2:00 p.m. action table at Vermillion Community College Campus Center, 1900 East Camp Street (map)

Hopkins: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. action table, 2400 Lindbergh Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55305

Minneapolis: 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. film screening and action night at South High School (map)

Minneapolis: Film Screening and Discussion at UMTC at 7pm -924 17th Ave Se, Minneapolis MN  (map)

Morris: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. action table at UM Morris Student Center, 600 East 4th Street (map)

Northfield: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Beyond Coal Action Night with students and youth from local high schools and colleges, location TBD

St. Cloud: Noon to 1:00 p.m. rally at 3515 3rd Street North (map)

St. Joseph: All day action table at College of St Benedicts and St. Johns University (map)

St. Paul: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. action table at Macalester College, Macalester Student Center, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul (map)

St. Paul: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. movie screening at Macalester College, Markim Hall in Davis Court (map)

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