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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The Cleaner Valley Coalition

— Midwest Environmental Advocates is proud to have been a part of the Cleaner Valley Coalition, a diverse coalition of organizations who advocated for the clean-up of We Energies’ coal-fired power plant in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley.

Case Summary

Midwest Environmental Advocates is proud to have been a part of the Cleaner Valley Campaign. Civil rights, environmental, faith, health and neighborhood organizations concerned about public health came together to improve the air quality of Milwaukee residents by advocating for the clean-up of We Energies’ coal-fired power plant in the Menomonee Valley, in the heart of the city of Milwaukee.

Situated in the most densely-populated, low-income and minority-populated area in the state, the Valley coal-fired power plant was causing serious health problems for neighborhood residents. Asthma, heart attacks and respiratory illness are common effects of burning coal and the pollutants emitted by Valley’s stacks, making Valley responsible for $280 million in annual health care costs. While pollution-control technologies have been installed at other coal plants in the state – notably in areas where whites make up more than 90% of the population – such technology is still missing at Valley.

Midwest Environmental Advocates worked with the campaign and the Cleaner Valley Coalition to provide legal support and strategic expertise in advancing CVC’s call for reducing pollution at Valley. One example of our work to promote a cleaner Valley is our representation of fellow CVC member, Sierra Club, in a federal citizen suit that seeks to get a new water pollution discharge permit for the plant, to replace the current permit which expired over 20 years ago.

In early 2014, after years of work, the campaign and members of what became the Cleaner Milwaukee Coalition celebrated a victory when the Public Service Commission approved coverting We Energies from a coal-burning to a natural gas power plant. While there are also environmental concerns that come with the production of natural gas, the health benefits to the people of the local community who will not be exposed to the hazards of dirty coal will be a significant step forward for environmental justice.