One of state’s dirtiest coal plants operates without permit

MADISON — Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club filed suit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today, asking the court to compel the DNR to issue an air permit for Milwaukee’s Valley Power Plant, one of the dirtiest coal plants in the state.

“The Valley Power Plant is one of the oldest and dirtiest coal plants in Wisconsin, and it’s located in the heart of one of the most densely populated areas of the state,” said Katie Nekola, energy program director at Clean Wisconsin. “An air permit will help protect the thousands of residents living in the shadow of the Valley plant.”

The Clean Air Act requires states to issue air permits for power plants in order to reduce violations of the Act and improve enforcement of air pollution limits. According to the complaint filed today, We Energies submitted an application for permit renewal on February 20, 2008; however, the DNR failed to issue or deny the permit within 18 months of the date the application was complete (August 20, 2009), as is required by law.

“The DNR issues air permits to reduce air pollution and make sure facilities meet public health standards,” explained Jennifer Feyerherm with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Without a current air permit, local residents are left without protections or measures to hold We Energies accountable for pollution from the Valley coal plant.”

The Valley Power Plant is located in the Menomonee Valley in the heart of downtown Milwaukee and emits more nitrogen oxide per kilowatt than any other power plant owned by We Energies. Nitrogen oxide is a key component in the production of soot and smog, and represents only one of many pollutants released by the plant. Milwaukee County fails to meet federal health standards for both soot (particle pollution) and smog (ozone).

“No power plant should be allowed to operate without a permit, especially one located in a county that fails to meet federal health and air quality standards,” said Nekola. “It’s time for the DNR to issue an air permit for the Valley Power Plant.”