MN Power warned by Sierra Club for Clean Air Act violations

By KBJR News 1

March 24, 2014 Updated Mar 24, 2014 at 6:18 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Sierra Club is calling out Minnesota Power, alleging the company is responsible for more than 12 thousand clean air act violations.

"A majority of them are related to the smoke that comes out of the smoke stack and what's called opacity. It's a measurement of the pollutant coming out of the smoke stack related to soot and particulate matter," said Michelle Rosier with the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club says the particulate matter from the Clay Boswell, Taconite harbor and Syl Laskin Coal Plants over the last five years is a threat to public health.

Minnesota Power says it records and monitors air quality every six seconds to be compliant with air permit regulations.

"Opacity is not a pollutant. It's a condition. It's in reference to the visibility of one's plume that comes out of the stack. It is not in and of itself harmful," said Amy Rutledge, Manager of Corporate Communications for Minnesota Power.

The Sierra Club claims that data from 20-12 estimates that MN power's three coal plants contribute to 367 asthma attacks, 36 heart attacks, and 23 premature deaths each year. They want MN power to come up with a plan to move away from coal-fired power plants.

"My hope is that Minnesota power does what it needs to do to get it's coal plants on a path to cleaner energy and that they take care immediately of these concerns," said Rosier.

But Minnesota Power says they already have a solid plan...their Energy Forward plan introduced last year.

"Our resource strategy for energy mix that once was predominantly coal, to moving to a more balanced energy mix of a 1/3 natural gas, 1/3 renewables and 1/3 coal," said Rutledge.

Minnesota Power says as emissions are reduced there will be a natural reduction in particulate pollution

The Sierra Club has filed an intent to sue and hopes to come to a resolution with Minnesota Power in the next 60 days.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati