The City of Superior has taken a stand after months of what has been called "robust public input" from city residents, Tribal leaders, health professionals, and utility representatives.

According to a Sierra Club press release, the Superior City Council voted Wednesday against another public hearing and will move ahead with the recommendation of its Plan Commission to deny Minnesota Power’s requests to "vacate city streets, rezone land, and amend Superior’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan" to allow for the build-out of a 625 MW methane gas plant known as the Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC).

Superior Residents Have Applauded The Decision

The Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization, says that Superior residents, including a group known as Neighbors Against NTEC, have applauded the decision, adding that it prioritizes Superior residents above short-term utility shareholders’ profits.

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Kari Olson, a medical student who lives within one mile of the proposed gas plant site, says that allowing a plant like this to be built is "unconscionable" and she's glad Superior leaders chose healthcare workers over "corporate interests".

Abby Novinska Lois, the executive director of Healthy Climate Wisconsin, added “As public health and healthcare professionals, we were pleased to see the City Council vote to protect community health and clean air by denying the NTEC gas plant.”

What Are The Possible Health Impacts Of Methane Gas?

According to the press release, methane gas extraction and combustion pollution can lead to negative health impacts, including preterm births, asthma, cancer, respiratory infections, heart attacks, strokes, and neurodevelopmental issues.

What Happens Next?

Dairyland Power Cooperative, the Wisconsin utility that is working in conjunction with Minnesota Power has applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a subsidized loan that would account for approximately half of the $700 million needed to build NTEC.

Indigenous leaders, however, have called upon the USDA and federal leaders to deny the $350 million loan application. The reason they've taken action is because the proposed site for NTEC borders the Tribal burial grounds of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa whose graves were relocated a century ago for ore docks that were never built.

The USDA has yet to issue a decision on the subsidized loan, although President Biden has reportedly pledged to end all fossil fuel subsidies in response to the climate crisis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, NTEC alone would cause $2.15 billion in climate damage by 2040.

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