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EPA puts hold on Big Stone II

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday issued objections to an air quality permit for the Big Stone II coal-fired power plant in Milbank, S.D., a move that doesn't kill the project but does mean South Dakota officials will have to change the permit request to meet federal requirements within 90 days.

The EPA announced its decision just days after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved with conditions a proposal from utilities to build powerlines to carry energy from the planned addition to the exisiting Big Stone plant.

If the plant is required to make significant changes to the permit request to comply with EPA standards, the powerline decision could be affected.

The EPA stated that Big Stone II officials have 90 days to change their permit to satisfy regulations for air quality.

According to various news reports, groups objecting to the plant declared the EPA's decision a major victory while others are less optimistic that the EPA's move spells an end to the facility.

Big Stone Power II is estimated to cost more than $1.5 billion to build.