Coal-Fired Power Plant Defeated: League Achieves Victory for the Environment (11/6/09)
Gaithersburg, MD – The Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) and its allies achieved a significant victory this week when plans to construct a new coal-fired power plant in South Dakota were scrapped. Big Stone II became the latest in a series of power plant proposals that have died under the weight of escalating costs and concern over climate change.
Since 1992, the Izaak Walton League has worked to hasten the transition from coal-based power generation in the Upper Midwest to electricity that relies more on clean, renewable power sources such as wind, and energy efficiency. “Priority number one is to stop the construction of new coal-fired power plants,” says Bill Grant, IWLA Associate Executive Director. “With each new coal plant that is built, there is a decades-long commitment to massive global warming emissions and the release of large quantities of pollutants that harm human health.”
For more than four years, IWLA and its allies actively opposed construction of the Big Stone II coal-fired power plant in South Dakota and the associated transmission lines into Minnesota. In cases before state regulators, the League focused on the massive carbon pollution impacts of Big Stone II and emphasized the environmental and economic risks of the plant. “Our analysis demonstrated that the alternatives to Big Stone II would be not only far better for the environment but actually cheaper for rate payers,” says Nancy Lange, IWLA Clean Air Program Coordinator. “These cleaner, less expensive alternatives take advantage of world-class wind resources in South Dakota and create more jobs than the coal plant was projected to produce.”
Despite the growing ranks of states that have turned away from the high costs of and global-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants, regulators in South Dakota and Minnesota approved construction of the power plant and its transmission lines in 2007 and 2009. It was the utility companies themselves that halted the project due to concerns over rising construction costs, declining power demand, and pending regulations for greenhouse gas emissions. “We stuck to our argument throughout the four years of proceedings that coal-fired power plants are risky investments,” says Grant. “That reality finally prevailed among the Big Stone II utility partners.”
“Stopping Big Stone II is a great victory for utility customers and the environment,” says Grant. “Across the region, there is now even greater incentive for utilities to tap into the cheaper, cleaner sources of power that exist in abundance throughout the Midwest.”
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America (http://www.iwla.org/) protects America's outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.