Wisconsin state officials said on January 10 that they will evaluate a state power plant on Madison's Near East Side and investigate ways to produce steam and electricity more cleanly and efficiently. The move comes one month after the Sierra Club announced it would sue the state over violations at the plant. "We have secured another milestone in our campaign to clean up the three coal plants in downtown Madison and showcase how clean energy solutions can secure large reductions in global warming pollution," says Sierra Club attorney and clean energy activist Bruce Nilles. He and the Sierra Club were prominently featured in a Jan. 11 story in the Wisconsin State Journal.
A year ago, in response to a large organizing effort spearheaded by the Club, the city's largest coal plant (the century-old Blount St. plant, pictured above) announced it would stop burning coal no later than 2011. Now, after the Club stated its intent to sue over Clean Air Act violations for the remaining two plants, the state has committed to studying alternatives for retiring the Capitol Heat & Power Plant, built in 1908, and Nilles reports that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle's staff has assured the Sierra Club that retiring the third of Madison's coal-burning plants will also be included in the alternatives study. "We're not done," Nilles says, "but we're on track to end Madison's century-old practice of burning coal and emitting large amounts of soot, smog, mercury, and global warming pollution."