Monday, April 4, 2016
Permit will revise the long-overdue air pollution permit at Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor coal-burning power plant
DULUTH, MN. — Minnesota Power has submitted a revised air permit to The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). This draft permit, on notice April 3rd, will revise the long-overdue air pollution permit at Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor coal-burning power plant to meet health-based clean air protections established nearly six years ago. This comes a year after dozens of faith, health, youth, and environmental groups submitted a letter calling for the MPCA to hold Minnesota Power accountable by acting on the expired permits. For Taconite Harbor, the air pollution permit was more than a decade overdue, putting nearby Northern Minnesota communities, iconic public parks, and recreation areas at risk.
The permit will include limits to ensure compliance with the EPA’s one-hour national ambient air quality standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2). Modeling conducted by an expert for the Sierra Club demonstrated that emissions from Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor coal plant potentially cause violations of that health-based standard for dozens of miles around the plant, putting our health and environment at risk.
Sulfur dioxide causes respiratory illnesses and increased risk of hospital admissions or emergency room visits, especially among children, older adults and people with asthma. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, northeastern Minnesota has the highest rates per capita of asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations in the state.
In response Jessica Tritsch with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Minnesota said:
“This is an important step forward for all Minnesota Power customers and the entire community that came out last year to ensure a process was in place to safeguard our health, and protect our parks and recreation areas.
“We are glad to see a draft permit, and will review it during the 30-day comment period. Minnesota Power’s decision to retire Taconite Harbor is an important move for clean air, but we are concerned about what impact its 4-year plan to economically idle the plant could have on our community’s health.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.