Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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Home » Issues & Actions » Actions » Sierra Club v. Dairyland Power Cooperative

Sierra Club v. Dairyland Power Cooperative

— Coal-fired power plants along the Mississippi violated the Clean Air Act. Midwest Environmental Advocates co-counseled with private attorneys to advocate for cleaner air.

Case Summary

Midwest Environmental Advocates teamed up with McGillivray, Westerberg and Bender to represent the Sierra Club in a Clean Air Act citizen suit against Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC). DPC owns and operates three coal-fired power plants in Western Wisconsin, along the mighty Mississippi. These three plants emit thousands of tons of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter and carbon monoxide each year. Those pollutants contribute to climate change, respiratory distress, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides in the air also contribute to acid rain, which sterilizes lakes and damages property. The presence of those pollutants in the atmosphere is also associated with increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits.

Sierra Club was concerned because DPC modified and then put in to operation boilers at these plants without first obtaining the appropriate construction permits, without meeting emission limits that are set for the best technology out there, and without installing appropriate methods to control emissions of harmful air pollutants, as required by the Clean Air Act.

McGillivray, Westerberg & Bender filed a complaint against DPC on behalf of the Sierra Club in Federal Court of the Western District of Wisconsin, and Midwest Environmental Advocates supported their research and work. The Court found that DPC did in fact violate the Clean Air Act by proceeding with plant modifications without securing the proper permits and by not putting in the proper technology to protect air quality. Midwest Environmental Advocates celebrates this decision as a win for clean air in western Wisconsin.