South Dakota Coal Plant Blocked: Sign of a New EPA?

The first major coal-plant decision since Obama took office is a welcome signal that things are changing.

This is a great day for clean energy and people's health: Today the Environmental Protection Agency overturned the state of South Dakota's approval of the massive Big Stone II coal-fired power plant. The EPA's decision comes after the state failed to require state-of-the-art pollution controls for the coal plant -- controls that would address harmful soot, smog and global-warming pollution.

Today's decision is also a victory for the rule of law -- with the EPA signaling that it is back to enforcing longstanding legal requirements fairly and consistently nationwide and that it's concerned about pollution and global warming.

As the first major coal plant decision by the EPA since President Barack Obama took office, this signals that the dozens of other coal plant proposals currently in permitting processes nationwide will face a new level of federal scrutiny.

The proposed Big Stone II 500-megawatt coal plant would have emitted more than 4 million tons of pollution annually. The Sierra Club and Clean Water Action have been working to stop the Big Stone II project and ramp up clean-energy investments for more than three years. 

This decision also likely spells the end of Otter Tail Power's Big Stone II coal plant. At a minimum, Otter Tail Power 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.

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