Minnesota Power 15 Year Plan Still Beholden to Dirty Coal

CONTACT:
Ricky Junquera, Ricky.Junquera@sierraclub.org, 617-599-7048

https://content.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2016/03/minnesota-power-15-year-plan-still-beholden-dirty-coal

More than 1500 comments submitted to push an investment in renewable energy

DULUTH, MN– Today marked the close of comments on Minnesota Power’s proposed 15-year plan to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) outlining the Northlands’ energy future. Over 1500 Minnesotans submitted comments saying Minnesota Power was missing opportunities to protect our air, water, and invest in long term energy solution and asking them to require more wind, solar, and energy efficiency from Minnesota Power over the next 15 years.

Lucinda West, a freshman at University of Minnesota Duluth and task force leader of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group Duluth chapter, spent time this winter talking to her fellow students about the 15 year plan,  “Everyone was shocked when they heard that Minnesota Power wasn’t planning on adding any more wind power in the next 15 years. It is obvious to us that we need more clean energy and less fossil fuels to protect our future. The 15 year plan even says that the wind investments they have made were a good investment for their customers, Minnesota Power seems out of touch to not add more of this affordable energy for their customers.”

Minnesota Power announced plans to stop burning coal at one of their dirtiest plants,Taconite Harbor that sits on the shore of Lake Superior. Yet, even with that announcement, Minnesota Power still burns coal for 65% of the electricity they produce. It’s progress, but more should be done. In comparison, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released new data this week showing that statewide coal was 44% of the energy mix in 2015.

“All around the country we see great examples of utilities answering the call to shifting their energy production to renewable energy but not with Minnesota Power,” said James Hietala, a MN Power customer. “We need to see commitments that make a positive impact on our air and water quality to ensure that future generations can enjoy the northern Minnesota that we enjoy.”

For years, clean energy supporters in the Northland have been pressuring Minnesota Power to announce transition plans for their dirtiest coal plants. Minnesota Power is posing a threat to our water and air by continuing to burn coal. Clean energy solutions (like wind, solar, and energy efficiency) exist and are saving customers money. Minnesota Power should ramp up wind and solar energy.

The PUC will now look over all of the comments submitted but citizens, industry, and advocacy groups and determine if MN Power can continue with their current plan or if they should make some changes.

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Sierra Club responds to release of PolyMet Final Environmental Impact Statement Certification

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 3, 2016

Sierra Club responds to release of PolyMet Final Environmental Impact Statement Certification

Contact: Margaret Levin, State Director, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, 612-259-2446, margaret.levin@sierraclub.org

Today the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced its determination of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the PolyMet sulfide ore mine as “adequate.”

In response, Sierra Club State Director Margaret Levin issued the following statement:

“This determination is disappointing, given the enormous risks of PolyMet’s deeply flawed sulfide mine proposal and the many questions left unanswered by the Final Environmental Impact Statement. The FEIS failed to fully evaluate pollution risks and health impacts and shows that the project would pose an unacceptable threat to Lake Superior – degradation of surface water, groundwater, and wetlands, and harm to endangered and threatened wildlife.

“PolyMet’s plan – to pollute water for centuries, destroy thousands of acres of wetlands, and put the health of people downstream at risk – is not the legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren. The evidence is clear that the risks to Lake Superior and the region far outweigh the potential benefits.”
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The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is the leading grassroots voice to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment.