Big Stone II Utilities Pull Plug on Massive Coal Plant Project
November 3, 2009
Sierra Club and its allies achieved a monumental win when, on November 2, 2009, the participating utilities in the proposed Big Stone II project announced that they would no longer pursue building the project’s massive coal-fired power plant and related transmission facilities. This decision comes shortly after Otter Tail Power Company, the lead developer of the project, pulled out. Remaining participating utilities were unable to find a new financial partner to replace Otter Tail.
September 15, 2009
On September 11, 2009, Sierra Club and its allies achieved a monumental victory when Otter Tail Power Company announced its withdrawal from the massive Big Stone II coal plant project in Grant County, South Dakota. Otter Tail, which was a participating utility and the lead developer of the project, cited the economic downturn and the likelihood of federal climate legislation as reasons for not investing in the new coal-fired power plant. This decision represents a major setback for the project; Big Stone II had been scheduled to be on-line by 2011 and is now estimated to be completed by 2015, if at all. The remaining participants are currently seeking other funders in order to move forward with the project.
Sierra Club's Law Program and Minnesota and South Dakota activists have been fighting this coal plant project for four years, opposing the plant before the South Dakota and Minnesota Public Utilities Commissions, the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sierra Club attorneys also challenged the coal plant in South Dakota federal court. This decision is largely the result of a strong multi-state effort against the project and represents a major win in the Club’s fight against dirty energy sources and global warming.
January 23, 2009
Less than three days after President Obama took office, the United States is one step closer to cleaner air and reducing our contribution to global warming. Coal-fired power plants contribute to 30% of our nation's carbon dioxide emissions, making them the leading contributor to global warming. In the first major coal plant decision to come from the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama, the Agency overturned South Dakota’s approval of the massive Big Stone II coal-fired power plant. The Agency's decision comes after the state failed to require state-of-the-art pollution controls for the coal plant that would address concerns about harmful soot, smog and global warming pollution.
This decision shows a stark change from the past eight years of the Bush Administration refusing to adequately regulate new coal-fired power plants and other sources of air pollution. It is also a strong signal that the dozens of other coal plant proposals currently in permitting processes nationwide will face a new level of federal scrutiny.
This likely spells the end of Otter Tail Power Company's Big Stone II 500-megawatt coal plant, which if built would have emitted more than 4 million tons of global warming pollution annually. At a minimum, Otter Tail will have to go back to the drawing board and redesign the project to incorporate the best and maximum available control technology for pollution like soot and smog. This means that Otter Tail will now be responsible for the cost of its pollution; however, we hope that this increase in cost will encourage them, along with other power plant financers and state Governors, to abandon coal plants in exchange for clean, affordable alternatives.
Sierra Club and Clean Water Action have been working to stop the Big Stone II project for more than three years. We hope this is the beginning of the end of coal-fired power plants, and the beginning of cleaner, healthier communities.
Details and Documents:
Utilities Drop Plans for Big Stone II Coal Plant, Clearing Way for Wind
November 4, 2009 by Leslie Brooks Suzukamo, SolveClimate
Utilities kill plans for Big Stone II power plant
November 3, 2009 by Jesse Emspak, TwinCities.com
See other "Stopping the Coal Rush" cases.