U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) yesterday pressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to require the installation of expensive and unproven pollution control measures at North Dakota power plants because the cost of the technology would likely be passed on to western Minnesota families, farmers, and businesses who get their electricity from those plants.
The two lawmakers, in a letter to a top EPA official, said it is unclear if there are any health and environmental benefits of installing the "selective catalytic reactor" (SCR) technology at the North Dakota plants, because the technology has not been proven to work at plants that burn North Dakota lignite coal. The installation costs -- as much as $500 million at just one North Dakota plant -- would be passed on to Minnesota utilities who purchase electricity from North Dakota and ultimately on to their customers.
"We support the goal of the Clean Air Act to protect human health and the environment. It makes sense to invest in pollution control technologies when there is proven public health or environmental benefit," Sen. Franken and Rep. Peterson wrote to EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe. "However, we have not seen assurances from EPA that SCR technology is effective in reducing pollution from power plants burning North Dakota lignite coal."