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Minnesota Ctr. for Envtl. Advocacy v. Holsten

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20227
Nos. No. A08-2171, (Minn. Ct. App., 09/22/2009)

A Minnesota appellate court upheld an EIS for a steel plant against claims that it failed to address the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and power generation. The environmental group's claims that the state environmental agency failed to consider the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in its EIS for the project lacked merit. Although the project will contribute CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, as noted in the EIS, the agency reasonably determined that it is not within the current state of the art to provide an analysis of the impact that project-related greenhouse gas emissions will have on the environment. A reliable model for evaluating the project's greenhouse gas emissions on regional or global climate does not exist, and the precise effects of any mitigation measures cannot be predicted with certainty. In addition, the group's claims that the EIS failed to include any discussion of alternatives to the project or mitigation measures that could reduce the project's greenhouse gas emissions was unsupported by the record. Nor did the agency fail to consider the issue of climate change. Again, the agency reasonably determined that an assessment of likely climate change on the project's environmental effects is beyond the state of the art. Lastly, the evidence supports the agency's determinations that the project will not directly cause the construction of a new power plant and that the project will not cause an increase in power production.