Press Releases

Illinois Solar for All Program launch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            

Contacts:
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization: Juliana Pino, (312) 344-3143, JPino@lvejo.org
Environmental Law & Policy Center: Judith Nemes, (312) 795-3706, JNemes@elpc.org
Blacks in Green: Naomi Davis, (773) 678-9541, NaomiDavis@blacksingreen.org
Illinois People’s Action:  Dawn Dannenbring, (309) 531-4433, ILPeoplesAction12@gmail.com

 Illinois Solar for All Program Launches to Bring Affordable Renewable Energy to Low-income Households and Environmental Justice Communities across the State

Solar projects will tap job training programs to boost opportunities for new trainees

Today, the Illinois Solar for All Program officially opens for business to promote new solar projects serving low-income and environmental justice communities throughout Illinois. An important element of the program focuses on solar developers coordinating with job training programs to expand the workforce in the renewable energy industry to include individuals who are or were foster children or persons with a record who are transitioning.

The program was created as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which was passed by the Illinois legislature in December 2016 to increase solar energy jobs and renewable development projects across Illinois, among other objectives. Funding for the first two years of the program is set at $30 million per year, which will be used to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from new low-income solar projects.

The Illinois Power Agency was tasked with implementing the program and it has hired Chicago-based Elevate Energy as the program administrator. The Illinois Solar for All Program has a number of sub-programs for low-income and environmental justice communities, including ones for rooftop solar, community solar projects, and solar projects for non-profits and public facilities located in and serving those communities.

“Illinois Solar for All brings unprecedented opportunities for communities on the frontlines of environmental harms and climate change consequences to lead just transition through adoption of renewable energy and its associated economic justice and cleaner air benefits,” said Juliana Pino, policy director at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. “Dozens of members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and Illinois Solar for All Working Group—from private solar companies to community leaders—worked diligently to create and support the program. Now, importantly, lower electric bills and career opportunities for persons with a record and foster care alumni will be prioritized where they are needed most.”

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center is proud to help establish one of the most comprehensive statewide programs in the country that drives solar development to low-income and environmental justice communities,” said MeLena Hessel, policy advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“Jobs with strong wages and future growth are essential to stabilization in my community. Illinois Solar for All job training and hiring requirements create an important win for those too often left out of emerging economies,” said Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green. “The quality of the job training is first class, and some graduates are even experiencing multiple offers from solar vendors. I’m so pleased the hard work of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition has produced a program with such dynamic, built-in connections between employers, trainers, and candidates. This structure ensures that economic opportunities flow more equitably in the clean energy pipeline.”

“Illinois Solar for All programs give hope and dignity to the least among us,” said Rev. Tony Pierce, Board President of Illinois People’s Action, and his church is a member of the Peoria job training program preparing persons with a record for careers in the industry. “Our communities have long been left out of the Green Energy Economy and these programs begin to address those disparities.”

Training sessions will be scheduled for approved solar developers to walk them through the details of the project submission process.

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Check out more of ELPC’s work with Solar development and Clean Energy here.

ELPC Statement Applauding U.S. House of Representatives’ Passage of Legislation to Combat Climate Change, First in a Decade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes, (773)-892-7494, jnemes@elpc.org

ELPC Statement Applauding U.S. House of Representatives’ Passage of Legislation to Combat Climate Change, First in a Decade

Statement by Howard A. Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center 

“We are pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives today has taken an important step forward in combating climate change by passing the Climate Action Now Act,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We are thankful to members of the Midwest delegation who stepped up and voted yes on The Climate Action Now Act.”

“The Midwest delegation in the U.S. Congress understands the vital need for the federal government to honor its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and for the U.S. to be a leader on climate change solutions. For the first time in 10 years, today’s vote in the House moves us in the right direction on climate change and for a better future.”

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Manure From Unregulated Factory Farms Fuels Lake Erie’s Toxic Algae Blooms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Judith Nemes, jnemes@elpc.org, 312-795-3706
Sarah Graddy, sarah@ewg.org, 202-939-9141

Manure From Unregulated Factory Farms Fuels Lake Erie’s Toxic Algae Blooms

Nutrient-Rich Pollution Runs Off Previously Undocumented Operations Into Maumee River Watershed

MINNEAPOLIS – Unregulated animal factory farms are funneling nutrient-rich pollution into Lake Erie, feeding an enormous toxic algae bloom each summer, according to a new investigation by the Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

By analyzing aerial photos, satellite imagery and state permit data, the groups identified 775 hog, cattle, dairy and poultry operations in the Maumee River watershed in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan in 2018 – a 40 percent increase since 2005. The investigation found that more than a fourth of factory farms in the watershed had expanded since they were built, and at least half the manure generated along the Ohio portion of the river comes from operations that lack state permits.

“Until now, no one knew how many industrial animal farms are in the Maumee River watershed,” said Sarah Porter, EWG senior analyst and project manager. “The steady growth of factory farms in the area might help explain why the Lake Erie toxic algae bloom is still such a huge problem, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the state has spent trying to clean it up.”

Manure from animal factory farms is rich in nutrients like phosphorus, which triggers the growth of toxic algae blooms. About 30 percent of the phosphorus feeding the Lake Erie bloom comes from the Maumee River.

Last year the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency reported that the amount of phosphorus in Lake Erie has remained fairly steady over the past few years, even though the state has been working with soy and corn farmers to implement voluntary best practices for handling agricultural runoff.

The investigation shows one possible reason: Although farmers have made strides in reducing the amount of commercial fertilizer running into Lake Erie and other waterways, animal factory farms – and the millions of tons of manure they generate each year – have been flying under the radar.

Nutrient-laden farm runoff is largely responsible not just for Lake Erie’s notorious toxic algae bloom, which made Toledo’s water unsafe to drink for several days in 2014, but also for hundreds of other such outbreaks across the U.S.

The Maumee River drains about 6,500 square miles in the three states, but three-fourths of the watershed is in Ohio. Farmers in that state don’t need permits for small- and medium-size animal farms, which can house thousands of animals, exempting them from guidelines about how to manage animal manure.

“Ohio must finally set a legal limit for the amount of phosphorus industrial farms can release into waterways and create a concrete plan to achieve the needed reductions,” said Madeline Fleisher, senior attorney in Ohio for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Millions of people in the Great Lakes region are tired of watching regulators and lawmakers continue to spend money just to kick the can down the road.”

Requiring permits for all of Ohio’s commercial animal operations, regardless of size, would allow state regulators to track how many facilities exist, how many animals they house and how much manure they produce.

“In the absence of permits, policymakers are basically making blind decisions about how to best manage animal factory farms and the pollution they create,” Porter said. “As long as that gaping loophole exists, lasting cleanup of Lake Erie and other waterways is incredibly unlikely.”

Most of the factory farms built since 2005 in the Maumee River watershed raise swine and poultry, Porter said. Even though a chicken produces less manure than a hog, chicken manure has a much higher concentration of phosphorus and nitrogen.

In 2017, thick, blue-green slime covered more than 700 square miles of Lake Erie – one of the worst years yet for the lake’s annual algae bloom, probably because of heavy rains. The bloom’s size and duration are determined in part by the amount of water that enters the lake from several rivers, including the Maumee. The spring rains currently flooding much of the upper Midwest provide one indication that Lake Erie’s bloom could be particularly intense this year.

In the absence of meaningful regulations protecting Lake Erie, residents of Toledo, Ohio, recently approved a ballot measure granting the water body the same rights as people, which will allow citizens to sue on its behalf. The Ohio Farm Bureau is challenging the results as unconstitutional.

The peak toxic algae bloom season generally runs from May through October. But warming waters and changing weather patterns caused by climate change seem to be extending the season, and making blooms more intense and more widespread throughout the U.S.

EWG tracks news reports of toxic algae blooms since 2010 in an interactive map.

 

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U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Order Denying FirstEnergy Solutions Debtors’ Motion that Would Have Moved Bankruptcy Plans Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes, jnemes@elpc.org, 312-795-3706

ELPC Statement on U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Order Denying FirstEnergy Solutions Debtors’ Motion that Would Have Moved Bankruptcy Plans Forward
Judge’s order halts bankruptcy plan process for FES

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

“U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Koschik’s ruling today is a huge victory for the environment, consumers and the public interest,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center and one of the attorneys for a coalition of citizens’ organizations. “Judge Koschik correctly determined that Debtor FirstEnergy Solutions’ extraordinarily broad releases of environmental liabilities and responsibilities make the proposed reorganization plan ‘patently unconfirmable.’ Those proposed third-party releases were legally impermissible, unfair and contrary to the public interest by maneuvering to shift coal plant environmental remediation costs and nuclear plant decommissioning costs onto the public.”

 

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Industry Leaders collaborate to launch new regulatory innovation initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For media requests, please contact Jordan Nachbar at jnachbar@sepapower.org or Judith Nemes at jnemes@elpc.org 

Industry leaders collaborate to launch new regulatory innovation initiative

“Renovate” seeks to enable the evolution of state regulatory processes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A diverse group of national nonprofit organizations and industry thought leaders announced a new initiative to help evolve state regulatory processes for the power sector to keep pace with the dynamic energy needs of customers and develop more effective ways of working together to identify and deliver new solutions to those needs.

Renovate is convened by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and launched in partnership with the Environmental Law & Policy Center and other leading electric industry and stakeholder groups (see the full list below).

The initiative’s vision is to enable the evolution of state regulatory processes and practices in order to address the scalable deployment of innovative technologies and business operating models that support the transition to a clean and modern energy grid.

“This groundbreaking initiative will help address the challenges in meeting customer needs and increased expectations for a modern grid enabled by new technologies, while continuing to provide clean, affordable, safe, and reliable electric service,” said Janet Gail Besser, Managing Director of Regulatory Innovation & Utility Business Models at SEPA.

“The electricity system is rapidly changing, and states must advance forward-looking policies to achieve the public benefits,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “States can lead with policies to accelerate renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that are good for consumers, good for economic development, and good for the environment.”

To begin Renovate, a task force including commissioners, consumer and environmental advocates, legislators, and leaders from utilities, solution providers and state energy offices alongside initiative partners identified problem statements to guide the initiative’s focus. The problem statements include issues on the steep learning curve for all industry participants, managing system risk and uncertainty, managing increased rate of change and the balancing and cross-coordination of multiple priority sets.

Working with a task force of stakeholder representatives and partners, the next phase of the initiative entails identifying a set of solutions to designated problem statements, and identifying, assessing and benchmarking existing regulatory innovations—both domestically and globally—which will include the development and publication of key illustrative case studies.

For more information on the Renovate Initiative and to view the full list of partners and task force members, click here

# # #

Renovate Partner Organizations:
American Public Power Association (APPA)
Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC)
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions (NARUC)
National Association of State Energy Offices (NASEO)
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
National Governors Association (NGA)
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

About SEPA
The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is an educational nonprofit working to facilitate the electric power industry’s smart transition to a clean and modern energy future through education, research, standards and collaboration. SEPA offers a range of research initiatives and resources, as well as conferences, educational events, advisory services, and professional networking opportunities. SEPA is founder and co-sponsor of North American Smart Energy Week (a trade show which includes Solar Power International and Energy Storage International among other smart energy topics) and winner of the Keystone Policy Center’s 2016 Leadership in Energy Award.

About ELPC
ELPC is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization, and among the nation’s leaders. The organization develops and leads successful strategic advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural resources.

Environmental Groups File 60-day Notice of Clean Water Act Lawsuit Against U.S. EPA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Environmental Groups File 60-day Notice of Clean Water Act Lawsuit Against U.S. EPA for Failure to Act After Finding of Impaired Waterways in NE Indiana

Agricultural runoff in NE Indiana waterways contribute to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie

Hammond, IN – Today, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Alliance for the Great Lakes and Hoosier Environmental Council filed a 60-day notice under the Clean Water Act for a potential lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to act to approve or disapprove Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) impaired waters list submitted on August 17, 2018. Under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. EPA is required to approve or disapprove of the submitted list within 30 days of its submission.

Many of the streams and rivers in Northeast Indiana that flow into the Maumee River and then into western Lake Erie are listed as impaired in IDEM’s August 2018 report to U.S. EPA. Western Lake Erie has been plagued by harmful algal blooms for many summers because of nutrient pollution due to agricultural runoff from manure and fertilizers into waterways that are part of several watersheds in Indiana and Ohio.

“The U.S. EPA has a legal obligation to promptly address Indiana’s findings that its rivers are impaired by pollution,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and attorney for the environmental groups sending the notice of intent to sue letter. “U.S. EPA’s failure to approve or deny IDEM’s report within the statutory 30-day period and to require enforceable standards to reduce the sources of that contamination violates the Clean Water Act. The U.S. EPA cannot dodge and duck its legal responsibilities under the Clean Water Act to make sure that Indiana takes the necessary action to reduce agricultural runoff of phosphorus pollution that is causing impaired waters that harm public health and the environment in the Lake Erie basin.”

“The Clean Water Act can protect our drinking water and public health, but only if U.S. EPA follows its own rules,” said Alliance for the Great Lakes President and CEO Joel Brammeier. “By failing to make a decision about Indiana’s impaired waters list, EPA is kicking the can down the road and slowing progress on cleaning up Lake Erie. With this notice, we are holding them accountable.”

“The Hoosier Environmental Council is counting on EPA to respond and take their long overdue actions so that we can see more progress on Indiana’s waterways,” said Indra Frank, MD, Environmental Health & Water Policy Director at the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Every two years, state agencies are required to submit an integrated report to U.S. EPA that includes their list of impaired waterways. For waters suffering from nutrient pollution, IDEM or the U.S. EPA must then design and implement enforceable regulatory standards to reduce the agricultural runoff of phosphorus pollution from fertilizers and CAFO manure that is causing the impairment. Moreover, these Indiana waterways then flow into western Lake Erie, causing toxic algae blooms that threaten safe drinking water, harm fisheries and impair outdoor recreation.

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Wisconsin PSC/DNR Draft Environmental Impact Statement Echoes Concerns of Unneeded Transmission Line Harming Driftless Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Dave Clutter, Driftless Area Land Conservancy, (608) 692-2153, Dave@driftlessconservancy.org
George Meyer, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, (608) 516-5545, georgemeyer@tds.net
Judith Nemes, Environmental Law & Policy Center, (312) 795-3706, JNemes@elpc.org

Wisconsin PSC/DNR Draft Environmental Impact Statement Echoes Conservation Groups & Natural Resource Experts’ Concerns of Unneeded Huge Transmission Line Harming Scenic Driftless Area

State report identifies harmful impacts, need for huge transmission line questioned

Dodgeville, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ and Public Service Commission’s just-released draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) confirms many of the same vital natural resources concerns over American Transmission Company’s (ATC) proposed huge Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line and 17-story high towers already voiced by local conservation groups and leading natural resources experts. The proposed transmission line would cut a wide swath through the Driftless Area’s scenic landscapes, conservation lands, parklands, key waterways, and other natural resource treasures. This is the wrong place for a huge transmission line, which, in any case, is not needed for electricity reliability.

According to Driftless Area Land Conservancy Executive Director David Clutter: “The Driftless Area is a nationally significant landscape that should be protected. We appreciated that Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources’ draft EIS recognized many of the same potential harms we and others identified that a massive transmission line and its 17-story high towers would inflict upon this unique treasure in the Midwest.”

A top-rate team of Wisconsin’s leading natural resources experts presented their concerns in written comments filed in January with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Their comments were submitted on behalf of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which is serving as their public legal counsel.

George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and former Director of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, said: “The Driftless Area and specifically the locations that would be harmed by the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. State, federal and local governments have invested many millions of dollars in lands for fish and wildlife habitat, public access and recreational purposes including hunting, fishing, trapping, biking, hiking and birdwatching which generate scores of millions of dollars into the local and state economies. The value of these public lands will be significantly degraded by the construction of the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line.”

Howard Learner, Executive Director at the Environmental Law & Policy Center and one of the attorneys for the Driftless Area Land Conservancy and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation said:  “The Driftless Area is the wrong place for a huge transmission line, which is not needed for reliability in any case as electricity demand is flat and there is already surplus power. The proposed costly transmission line is yesterday’s misguided way to meet future energy needs for people and businesses in Wisconsin.  There are better, cleaner, and more flexible solar energy, storage, wind power and energy efficiency resources in southwest Wisconsin that would create jobs and economic growth here instead of subsidizing out-of-state energy including fossil fuel generation.”

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ELPC Sues US EPA for Compliance Plan to Reduce Phosphorus Pollution in Western Lake Erie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes, (312) 795-3706, JNemes@elpc.org

ELPC Sues US EPA for Compliance Plan to Reduce Phosphorus Pollution That Creates Harmful Algae Blooms in Western Lake Erie

ELPC asks Court to keep EPA on Schedule to Clean Up Lake Erie

Toledo, OH – The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) today filed a new related lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio challenging the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of an Ohio EPA July 2018 report as legally inadequate. The Ohio EPA’s 2018 report provided no effective plan for reducing phosphorus pollution into western Lake Erie which is now designated as “impaired” waters under the Clean Water Act.

ELPC and co-plaintiff Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie (ACLE) are seeking a judicial remedy providing a compliance plan to require progress on a specific timeline to reduce phosphorus pollution in western Lake Erie by 2025, and provide for public accountability. Phosphorus in manure and fertilizer runoff from agricultural sources is the principal cause of harmful algal blooms that have plagued Lake Erie for many years.

“The Clean Water Act provides a specific legal pathway to reduce phosphorus pollution causing harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie, but U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA refuse to follow the law,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director. “The Court should require EPA to do its job well by promptly adopting and implementing an effective Clean Water Act plan to limit manure and fertilizer runoff that causes harmful algal blooms.”

The Clean Water Act requires an effective plan that implements a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) cap to limit pollution discharges into the Maumee River system, which flows into western Lake Erie. But Ohio EPA argues that it must only follow the non-binding Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement instead of a TMDL with enforceable regulatory standards.

Neither U.S. EPA nor Ohio EPA have followed the TMDL process to reduce pollution of manure from industrial animal feedlots and fertilizers from large agricultural operations that run off into rivers and streams that eventually result in phosphorus entering into Lake Erie.

“The Court has an important role to play in making sure Ohio doesn’t waste more time delaying effective measures to protect Lake Erie from pollution,” said Madeline Fleisher, ELPC Senior Attorney. “U.S. EPA isn’t holding the state accountable so we’re asking the court to do so.”

“The Clean Water Act is the law of the land, but Ohio keeps trying to escape its legal obligation to protect Lake Erie from factory farm pollution,” said Mike Ferner, a coordinator at ACLE. “The state has said western Lake Erie is one of its highest priorities, and the court shouldn’t let Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA get away with simply lip service.”

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A+ Team of Wisconsin Natural Resources Experts Oppose Huge Transmission Line That Endangers Scenic Driftless Area Values

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A+ Team of Wisconsin Natural Resources Experts Oppose Huge Transmission Line That Endangers Scenic Driftless Area Values

Threats to Unique Landscape, Recreational Tourism and Fragile Ecosystems

Dodgeville, WI – Four of Wisconsin’s leading natural resources experts filed strong written comments opposing American Transmission Company’s (ATC) proposed huge Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line and 17-story towers that will cut a wide swath through the Driftless Area’s scenic landscapes, conservation lands, parklands, key waterways and other natural resource treasures. This is the wrong place for a huge transmission line that is not needed for electricity reliability.

The experts’ written comments were filed individually by January 4th with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. They were also submitted on behalf of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC) and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF) by public interest attorneys at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which is serving as legal counsel for DALC and WWF.

According to DALC Executive Director David Clutter: “The Driftless Area is a nationally significant landscape that should be protected. This massive transmission line and its 17-story tall towers are not needed for reliability, and the Driftless Area should not be sacrificed for ATC’s profits.  We are pleased to have a superb team of natural resources experts weigh in on the importance of protecting and conserving a unique treasure in the Midwest.”

The natural resources expert team includes:

George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and former Director of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, stated:

“The Driftless Area and specifically the locations proposed to be traversed by the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. State, federal and local governments have invested over $100 million dollars in lands for fish and wildlife habitat, public access and recreational purposes including hunting, fishing, trapping, biking, hiking and birdwatching which generate scores of millions of dollars into the local and state economies. The value of these public lands will be significantly degraded by the construction of the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line.”

Don Waller, Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies and former Department Chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated:

“As a professional conservation biologist, I am concerned about the environmental impacts of this proposed transmission line as I know this project would have both immediate and sustained deleterious impacts on plant, bird, and other animal populations in the region.”

Stephen Born, Emeritus Professor of Planning and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated:

“One of the greatest losses associated with a major transmission line across this special region is the degradation of scenic and amenity resources. Because these highly-valued scenic resources are among the surest victims of a huge transmission line, those impacts should be thoroughly and carefully assessed in the review process for the transmission line.”

Curt Meine, Senior Fellow at the The Aldo Leopold Foundation and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated:

“We must strive together for energy solutions that do not sacrifice other conservation goals and degrade the quality of our land (in the Driftless Area). The decision on this proposed powerline is a test.  It will show if we as a society are willing to resist the easy path of expediency and short-term profit.”

The proposed 345 kV high-voltage transmission line is on a route cutting a wide path from Dubuque, Iowa, through the Upper Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Refuge, across protected conservation lands, wetlands, family farms, school district property and many sensitive natural areas in the Driftless Area. The huge transmission line routes would run through the protected Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area and Black Earth Watershed Conservation Area, and by Governor Dodge State Park and Blue Mounds State Park.

ATC is requesting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Public Service Commission so that it can assert eminent domain in order to take private land for its expensive transmission line and high towers.

Howard Learner, Executive Director at the Environmental Law & Policy Center and one of the attorneys for DALC and the WWF said: “The Driftless Area is the wrong place for a huge transmission line, which is not needed for reliability in any case. The proposed costly transmission line is yesterday’s misguided way to meet future energy needs for people and businesses in Wisconsin.  There are better, cleaner, and more flexible solar energy, storage, wind power and energy efficiency resources in southwest Wisconsin that would create jobs and economic growth here instead of subsidizing out-of-state energy including fossil fuel generation.”

 

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Michigan approves first electric vehicle charging infrastructure program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Nick Dodge, Byrum & Fisk Communications, (517) 333-1606

Judith Nemes, Environmental Law & Policy Center, (312)-795-3706

Michigan approves first electric vehicle charging infrastructure program

Michigan Public Service Commission approves PowerMiDrive initiative to advance charging infrastructure in Michigan

LANSING – Michigan’s first electric vehicle charging infrastructure program, Consumers Energy’s PowerMiDrive initiative, was approved today by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). Charge Up Midwest, a coalition of organizations working to advance electric vehicles throughout the Midwest, worked closely with Consumers Energy and the MPSC as the pilot program was developed, and contributed to the proposed settlement agreement that preceded the MPSC’s order.

“We applaud the Public Service Commission and Consumers Energy for taking this important first step to advance electric vehicles in Michigan and keep our state on the cutting-edge of the rapidly changing mobility sector,” said Charles Griffith, climate and energy program director at the Ecology Center. “This program is the first of its kind in Michigan and will promote buildout of charging infrastructure, which is one of the key challenges facing electric vehicle advancement in Michigan.”

The PowerMiDrive pilot program has been in development for more than two years. Today’s decision at the MPSC is the culmination of a stakeholder workgroup process facilitated by the MPSC. The decision approves the initiation of a $10 million, three-year pilot program to support installations of EV charging infrastructure at homes and residences, multi-unit dwellings, workplaces, and other public locations, as well as fast-chargers along highway corridors. The program will utilize rebates and consumer education to encourage program participation, and encourage “off-peak” charging through the incorporation of time-of-use rates.  Today’s decision allocates an additional $2.5 million for the program from what was originally proposed by Consumers Energy.

“We want to make sure that the benefits of electric vehicles are available to everyone, including folks in apartment buildings or anyone that doesn’t own their own garage,” said Mark Nabong, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Consumers’ new program can help more people access electric cars as a clean, cheaper alternative to gasoline cars.”

Consumers Energy is not the only utility company with proposals to expand electric vehicle charging. DTE Energy currently has a $13 million pilot program for consideration before the MPSC. Michigan’s two major utility companies are taking significant steps to promote EV charging infrastructure in the state, and if DTE Energy’s proposal is approved, Michigan will have the most forward-looking electric vehicle charging program in the Midwest.

“Today’s decision puts Michigan on the road to cleaner air and a smarter grid by improving drivers’ access to our cleanest and cheapest fuel—electricity,” said Joe Halso, associate attorney with the Sierra Club.  “We look forward to more work with the Commission, Consumers Energy and stakeholders to implement PowerMIDrive and position Michigan as a leader when it comes to planning for an electric vehicle future.”

“The MPSC’s decision is a major win for Michigan utility customers who will benefit with lower rates because more charging will occur at night,” said Robert Kelter, senior attorney at the Midwest-based Environmental Law & Policy Center.

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Charge Up Midwest is a partnership of environmental and clean energy organizations actively working to increase electric vehicle deployment throughout the region in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio. Visit www.ecocenter.org/charge-midwest to learn more.

 

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