- The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) will not consider the climate impacts of the proposed 500 MW gas-fired Nemadji Trail Energy Center, after regulators unanimously concluded that responsibility falls to the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
- The plant would be located in Superior, Wisconsin, and already has approval from Minnesota regulators. The $700 million project is being developed by Minnesota Power and Dairyland Power Cooperative, to serve customers in both states.
- The PSC will continue to review the project, but officials say environmental considerations will not be a part of the proceeding. Environmental activists say the DNR's review of the project's impacts will not be sufficient.
Environmental activists say Wisconsin's review of the proposed Nemadji Trail project will be incomplete, because the DNR process is focused on air quality and not climate change. Carbon may be safe to breathe, they argue, but it still causes heat to be trapped in the atmosphere.
Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin both argued the PSC should consider the climate impacts, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, but regulators determined that fell outside their purview because the plant would be a merchant facility not funded by or selling directly to ratepayers.
"The Legislature was clear in granting broad jurisdiction to the DNR over air quality," Chairwoman Rebecca Valqc said, according to the State Journal and confirmed by commission staff. "We should stay within those boundaries."
The PSC's review of the project will continue, but carbon emission considerations "cannot be included in the commissioners' final deliberations as they will not be part of the official record," PSC spokesman Matthew Sweeney said in an email.
An official PSC ruling on the decision will be published in roughly two weeks, he said.
The plant will serve customers across northeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin and, pending approval, is expected to begin generating electricity by 2025.