In the second-ever posting on this blog, 8,595 items ago, I posed a simple question on Feb. 3, 2007 about approvals for and concerns over the We Energies controversial coal-fired Oak Creek Power Plant under construction - - where a bluff and coal ash landfill beneath some additional utility construction at the complex fell into Lake Michigan earlier this week:
It turns out that the huge new coal-fired power plant that WE Energies is building along Lake Michigan in Oak Creek is not yet free of the legal and regulatory questions that had slowed its approval...
Wisconsin utilities operate with state-approved monopolies and guaranteed rates of return. That's a pretty sweet deal in a free enterprise economy, so is it asking too much of the utilities to meet the highest legal and environmental standards?Apparently, the answer was from the DNR was, yes, that's asking too much, as the Journal Sentinel's Don Behm and Thomas Content report in a shocker:
State environment regulators gave We Energies a pass in 2008 - exempting it from certain rules so that construction work could be done atop coal ash landfills on a bluff on the Lake Michigan shoreline at the utility's Oak Creek Power Plant, officials said Tuesday.Can you believe it?
Department of Natural Resources officials determined in 2008 that construction activities on an ash-filled ravine and other small landfills south of the utility's two plants on the property would not increase the risk of the ash or other contaminants getting into the lake, said Frank Schultz, the department's waste supervisor in Milwaukee. We Energies is building an air quality control facility for the older power plant at the site.
State environmental and utility regulators at the time decided that the construction activity would not significantly damage the environment, so no impact studies were needed.