Dry Fork Station

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The Dry Fork Station is a 385-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative that operates near the Dry Fork mine, north of Gillette, WY. The plant began operating in 2011.[1]

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Background

The project has received a siting permit from the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council. The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a draft air permit for the project in March 2007; the Sierra Club and the Powder River Basin Resource Council subsequently challenged the air permit.[2] On June 28, 2007, the state DEQ held a public hearing on the project, at which representatives of several environmental groups criticized the project. In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) submitted a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project; because Basin Electric has asked the RUS for funding, the project must go through the EIS process.[3]

On Oct. 15, 2007, the DEQ issued the final air permit for the project; construction began on Oct. 17.[4][5] On Nov. 1, the Sierra Club, the Powder River Basin Resources Council, Earthjustice, and the Wyoming Outdoor Council challenged the project’s air permit, appealing it to the state Environmental Quality Council. Gov. Freudenthal – who received $10,000 in campaign contributions from coal mining companies in 2006[6] – defended the project in a Nov. 2 statement.[7] The case will be heard in early 2008.[8]

On Oct. 1,2008 the Wyoming EQC ruled against the motions filed by the Sierra Club, Wyoming Outdoor Council and the Powder River Basin Resource Council regarding the air permit and denied their requests to halt construction of Dry Fork Station.[9]

According to an April 2009 Sierra Club update, the plant is under construction, however the Sierra Club and Powder River Basin Resources Council still have a state case against Basin Electric Power Cooperative, and Basin has stated it will work with them to avoid a federal lawsuit.[10]

As of October 2009, construction was about 54 percent finished. Commercial operation is scheduled for mid-2011.[11]

On March 5, 2010 the Powder River Basin Resource Council and Sierra Club lost a case in the Wyoming Supreme Court where the groups had challenged an air quality permit that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued for the Dry Fork Station in 2007. The plant is closing in on 75 percent completion rate as of March 2010. The Supreme Court ruling lifts one of the last remaining obstacles for the plant's completion. The plant's $1.3 billion cost includes $334 million in pollution-control equipment.

The groups involved in the suit claimed the plant could degrade air quality the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southern Montana. The plant is to be located 60 miles south of the reservation. The environmental groups argued that worst-case computer modeling showed the plant's emissions, combined with emissions from existing plants in Montana, could cause high levels of pollution on the Northern Cheyenne reservation. However, the justices on the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that the state regulators granted the permit correctly.[12]

Project Details

Sponsor: Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Location: Gillette, WY
Capacity: 385 MW (422 MW gross)
Type: Pulverized coal
In service: 2011
Status: Operating

Financing

Citizen Groups

Resources

References

  1. "Dry Fork Station" Basin Electric Power Cooperative, accessed July 11, 2014.
  2. Western Resource Advocates website, accessed January 2008.
  3. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed January 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  4. Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Dry Fork Station, Basin Electric Power Cooperative press release, November 2, 2007.
  5. Conservation Group Condemns Dry Fork Pollution Permit, Casper Star-Tribune, October 20, 2007.
  6. National Institute On Money In State Politics website, accessed January 2008,
  7. Governor Defends Dry Fork Decision On Coal Boiler, Gillette News-Record, November 3, 2007,
  8. Power Station's Environmental Permit Challenge Won't Be Heard Until 2008, Gillette News-Record, December 11, 2007.
  9. "Wyoming EQC denies efforts to halt Dry Fork Station construction", Basin Electric Power Cooperative, October 1, 2008.
  10. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed May 2009. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  11. "Coal plant construction continues in earnest at some sites," SNL Interactive, October 5, 2009. (Subscription required.)
  12. "Wyoming Supreme Court upholds coal plant permit" Mead Gruver, March 9, 2010.

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