This artist's conception will hopefully be about as far as things get (
by Dan Burns
Sep 11, 2023, 8:00 AM

A federal loan for a new dirty fuels plant?

That obviously should not happen. New dirty fuels plants in general obviously should not happen. I wrote about the proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center a while ago. To be honest the matter then pretty much slipped my mind, until I saw this in the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy newsletter last week.

Shockingly, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is still considering granting a subsidized loan to build a new fossil fuel plant just outside Duluth in Superior, Wisconsin. The proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center’s (NTEC)’s output would flow to three corners of Minnesota – northeastern Minnesota through Minnesota Power, southeastern Minnesota through Dairyland Power, and southwestern Minnesota areas served by Basin Electric. If built, NTEC would operate until 2067.

Such an investment flies in the face of everything we know about how to prevent worsening impacts of the climate crisis.

It also runs completely counter to Minnesota’s newly adopted standard to provide 100 percent of our energy from carbon-free sources by 2040, an essential climate law MCEA is committed to helping enforce.

Back in 2021 the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) puked out an assessment that included this:

Based on its EA, RUS has concluded that the proposed Project would have no significant effects to air quality; biological resources; cultural resources; geology and soils; infrastructure, transportation, public safety, and waste management; land use, recreation, farmland, and coastal facilities; noise; socioeconomics and environmental justice; visual resources; or water resources.

Note that “climate change” was apparently forbidden language when putting together all that. Though at a minimum it should have been regarded as belonging under “environmental justice.”

Thanks in no small part to activist efforts this subsequently happened:

In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service completed an additional environmental review that included climate impacts. However, the EPA says that review failed to include emissions caused by the plant’s construction and methane gas extraction and transportation. The EPA is now recommending that these additional climate impacts be considered.

The $700 million methane gas plant planned for Superior, Wis. would add nearly 3 million tons of carbon pollution into our environment every year. EPA regulators say damage from that pollution comes with an enormous price tag – more than $2 billion in climate damage costs through 2040.
(Clean Wisconsin)

There are legal challenges as well, some of which you can read about by clicking the link under the image at the top of this. Presumably said legal challenges will increase, if this gets much further.

I actually find myself somewhat optimistic that the NTEC can be killed. The pressure needs to be kept up.

Addendum: Sept. 12, from the AP per MPR: Indigenous tribes urge federal officials to deny loan request for Superior natural gas plant

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