Last week, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered an environmental review of Great River Energy’s plan to convert the Cambridge 2 natural gas peaking plant into a “dual fuel” facility—one that burns either natural gas or fuel oil. GRE called this proposal a “minor alteration” that was not subject to further review. But the Commission determined that the project has the potential for significant environmental impacts and granted the petition for environmental review submitted by CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), and the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.
Of particular concern to CURE, PEER, and the Sierra Club is the potential for increased hourly emission rates of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), particulate matter, mercury, and lead when the facility burns fuel oil. These pollutants contribute to poor air and water quality and can cause a variety of health issues including decreased lung function, aggravation of existing respiratory diseases like asthma, nonfatal heart attacks, and even premature death for those with heart or lung disease.