Cleaner Valley Coalition: Valley coal plant fight heats up

Contacts: Katie Nekola, Clean Wisconsin, 608-251-7020, x14

Jennifer Feyerherm, Sierra Club, 608-695-5797

Coalition Members Petition EPA to Protect Public Health

Milwaukee, WI – In the continued fight to clean up Milwaukee’s unhealthy air, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club have filed petitions challenging the air permit for We Energies’ Valley Coal Plant. These members of the Cleaner Valley Coalition filed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contending that the plant’s recently issued air permit violates the Clean Air Act.

“Permits are the first line of defense to protect the public from air pollution,” said Jennifer Feyerherm with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The 24,000 people living within a mile of the Valley Coal Plant, and the hundreds of thousands more in Milwaukee who are breathing dirty air are counting on an air permit that actually protects them. The current permit does not.”

Today, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club petitioned the EPA to object to the permit until it protects public health by applying the most current science and standards under the Clean Air Act. In addition, the organizations petitioned the DNR for a contested case hearing on the permit last Friday, citing its inadequate limits on sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, pollutants that form soot and smog. The current air permit for the Valley Coal Plant relies on data that are 13 years old.

“The health protections in the Clean Air Act don’t protect us if they are not enforced,” said Katie Nekola of Clean Wisconsin. “The air permit fails to adequately protect the health of the people in Milwaukee, particularly those living near the plant.”

The Valley Plant is the dirtiest plant in We Energies’ fleet, yet sits in the most densely populated area of the state, an area surrounded by low-income communities of color. According to the Clean Air Task Force, this plant is responsible for $280 million in health care costs annually.

“As a Cleaner Valley Coalition partner, we support all efforts to clean up We Energies’ Valley Coal Plant. Our children and families deserve to breathe clean air,” asserts Reverend Willie Brisco, MICAH president and Cleaner Valley Coalition partner. “That’s why we are attempting to work with We Energies to rectify this issue.”