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Minnesota Power to pay millions to settle Clean Air Act dispute

DULUTH — Minnesota Power will pay a $1.4 million civil penalty and spend another $4.2 million on conservation and clean energy projects under a settlement agreement with state and federal regulators announced Wednesday.

The Duluth-based utility also will spend another $500 million on pollution control equipment to bring its coal-fired power plants in line with pollution limits more stringent than state and federal laws require.

The settlement resolves longstanding claims that Minnesota Power violated the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act by unlawfully constructing major modifications at several power plants without obtaining required permits and without installing the best available air pollution control technology as required by federal law.

The settlement, announced by the U.S. Department of Justice, comes after a six-year investigation, and is one of about two dozen nationwide.

Utility officials say they have admitted no wrongdoing, but settled the case to prevent a protracted, costly legal battle.

The settlement was filed as a consent decree in federal district court in Minneapolis. If the agreement is approved by a federal judge, it will be open for a 30-day public comment period.

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