EPA, Sierra Club Force Expensive Power Plant Settlement in Wisconsin

Published September 16, 2012

Dairyland Power Cooperative of Wisconsin reached a joint settlement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Sierra Club over alleged clean-air violations. The power provider will be required to install $150 million in emissions controls, invest more in solar power, and reduce its use of affordable coal power. The settlement will directly cost the average Dairyland Power customer $250 and will drive up future electricity prices.

Was Already Reducing Emissions

Despite the allegations by EPA and the Sierra Club, Dairyland Power was already implementing a $400 million plan to reduce air emissions at its generating facilities. 

The power cooperative maintained in a public statement accompanying the settlement that it did not violate any clean-air laws. Dairyland Power is one of several Wisconsin power companies being sued by the Sierra Club.

Ryan Criticizes EPA Actions”As soon as Obama’s EPA chief took office, the agency issued finding after finding that would produce real economic harm in exchange for distant—and dubious—environmental ends,” congressman and vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Environment & Climate News via a statement sent by his press secretary. 

“While the EPA is busy punishing commercially competitive sources of energy, the Department of Energy under President Obama has been acting like the world’s worst venture capital fund—picking winners and losers, but mostly losers, by spending recklessly on uncompetitive alternatives,” Ryan added.

Litigation Bullying Tactics

“Environmental groups can’t pass their radical anti-fossil-fuel agenda through Congress, so they are attempting to litigate their agenda and pursue administrative law changes with a complicit EPA,” explained Scott Manly, director of environmental and energy policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. 

“Dairyland was already investing in better environmental technology, so what was the reason for the lawsuit?” asked Brett Healy, president of the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy. “Dairyland’s customers will now have to pay higher utility bills for all the lawyers involved, not for a better product or more reliable service.… The legal system should not be used for extortion.”

“The EPA’s new rules have directly resulted in a major new cost for struggling homeowners and manufacturers,” said Todd Stuart, executive director of the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group. “Members of Congress should be taking a very hard look at the significant compliance costs of EPA’s new mandates.”

D. Brady Nelson ([email protected]) is a Milwaukee-based economist.