Horses Ass Award for South Dakota’s Senator John Thune.


Has he no shame?   Sen.  John Thune fired off this letter to the EPA when it filed objections to the Big Stone II air permit.  Whatever is he thinking?  That the regulations don’t apply to his pet project, despite the obvious emissions problems?

Here’s the letter:

The Honorable Lisa Perez Jackson
Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Federal Building
January 28, 2009
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 3000
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Jackson:

It has recently come to my attention that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued some objections regarding the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) desire to renew the operating permit for the existing Big Stone Power Plant in South Dakota. As a strong proponent of expanding our commitment to addressing our nation’s energy challenges, I am writing to inquire about your Agency’s recent action, as well as how this objection impacts the Big Stone II project.

As you know, the United States is the world’s largest electricity consumer and is expected to remain that way for decades to come. In the Upper Midwest, experts predict several thousand megawatts of generation capacity are needed to meet our region’s growing energy demands. In responding to this challenge, five electric utilities have proposed building a 500-580-megawatt, coal-fired electric generation plant. The new facility would be built next to the existing 450-megawatt Big Stone Power Plant, located near Big Stone City, South Dakota. Four of these partners (Otter Tail Power Company, Heartland Consumers Power District, Montana-Dakota Utilities Company and Missouri River Energy Services) provide electricity to thousands of my constituents throughout South Dakota, and more than one million people when you total their services to individuals and businesses in four other states.

While the addition of Big Stone II will more than double the plant’s generation capacity, it will also utilize new technologies so that emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury from the two plants will be cleaner than the current, single plant. Big Stone II is also expected to emit 20 percent less carbon dioxide than existing coal-fired power plants in the region. Since President Obama indicated his readiness to “invest in low emissions coal plants” within his New Energy for America plan, I trust the Administration will support the efforts of these dedicated individuals who have committed their work, time and money on this project to ensure the region will have safe, reliable and affordable energy in the future.

This project is also crucial to our region’s increased commitment to wind energy development. As a United States Senator, I have endeavored to promote the advancement of wind energy in order to grow South Dakota’s economy and help meet our nation’s growing energy demands. One significant impediment to increasing wind energy production is the lack of transmission lines available to transfer this harnessed product to markets in need. Transmission upgrades that coincide with the construction of Big Stone II will also provide opportunities for the expansion of renewable wind energy in the region.

While I appreciate that permitting procedures under the Clean Air Act can be very complex, I understand that the South Dakota DENR has 90 days to submit a revised permit that meets the objections raised by your Agency. I am confident that the participating utilities and DENR will provide sufficient adjustments to the permit so the project is completed in an environmentally responsible manner that provides the electrical power essential to the region. Despite the claims by some advocacy groups, I sincerely hope the last-minute list of objections by EPA is not an attempt to derail this important and needed project.

I believe there is great potential in this undertaking by the five participating utilities. I look forward to hearing about your Agency’s role in moving this project forward, as it is essential to promoting economic growth and meeting the region’s energy demands, including expanded wind generation.

Kindest regards,

John Thune
United States Senator