Proposed Oak Creek Power Plant Continues to Hit Stumbling Blocks

Proposed Oak Creek Power Plant Continues to Hit Stumbling Blocks

The largest proposed expansion of a coal-burning power plant on the Great Lakes coast is now up for a serious fight. The massive generating plant promoted by Wisconsin Energies (WE) for a community just south of Milwaukee,Wisconsin, would effectively create a new facility to be regulated under less-stringent existing facility construction guidelines and emissions rules.

Among the problems with the new plant are an outdated, “oncethrough” cooling water system that would require the withdrawal and heating of 2.2 billion gallons of lake water per day, to be returned to Lake Michigan 15 degrees hotter than its natural temperature. WE is also proposing the use of an unusual water-based scrubbing system that would result in a waste stream of mercurycontaminated water with levels exponentially higher than the U.S. EPA recommended safe allowance. Additionally, the project would result in the destruction of several coastal bluff/wetland complexes, substantial lakefill, and significant fish kills near a known yellow perch hatchery.

Adding to the chorus of environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, Clean Wisconsin, and Lake Michigan Federation that are calling for a halt to the project, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in October to compel WE to file a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to replace the widely criticized draft EIS previously prepared. A Dane County judge recently put the project on hold indefinitely. The court’s ruling found that WE had broken Wisconsin law in its draft EIS by not considering alternate sites for the plant or fully accounting for all costs to be incurred by the project. The agency responsible for approving the draft EIS, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, is appealing the decision. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin legislature is circulating draft legislation designed to circumvent the court’s ruling.

For more information, contact Laurel O’Sullivan at or 312-939-0838×3.



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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.