After years of hard work and grassroots organizing, Minnesota activists were high-fiving each other and doing a little dance in the name of clean air after the Rochester Public Utilities Board unanimously voted earlier this month to cease the burning of coal at the Silver Lake power plant by 2015.
"For our activists, this news is a huge deal," says Michelle Rosier, a Minnesota Sierra Club organizer, who added that activists had been working on the Silver Lake plant issue for nearly a decade. "It's the oldest coal plant in the state. It's a big victory in terms of air pollution and its impact on the local population. Because it's in a valley, the pollution would just stick."
In Olmsted County, where families have had to deal with the Silver Lake plant's sulfur dioxide emissions, more than 2,500 kids and 7,000 adults have asthma.
"Toss in another 7,000 locals who suffer from bronchitis or emphysema, and it adds up to nearly 20,000 people with breathing problems that can be worsened by small-particulate air pollution," writes the Rochester Post-Bulletin.