EIS-0382: Draft Environmental Impact Statement

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Mesaba Energy Project, Itasca, MN

This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) provides information about the potential environmental impacts of the proposed Mesaba Energy Project, a coal-based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) electric power generating facility that would be located in the Taconite Tax Relief Area (TTRA) of northeastern Minnesota. Excelsior Energy Inc. (Excelsior) proposes to design, construct, and operate the Mesaba Energy Project in two phases; each phase would nominally generate 606 megawatts of electricity (MWe) for export to the electrical grid, 1,212 MWe total. DOE’s Proposed Action is to provide a total of $36 million in co-funding, through a cooperative agreement with Excelsior under the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) Program, for the design and one-year operational demonstration testing period for Phase I. The total cost of Phase I is currently estimated at $2.16 billion. This EIS addresses the impacts of both phases of the Mesaba Energy Project as connected actions, even though only Phase I would be co-funded under the CCPI Program. DOE may also provide a loan guarantee to Excelsior pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to guarantee a portion of the private sector financing of the project; however, this potential loan guarantee is not part of DOE’s Proposed Action. Because the proposed facility is considered a Large Electric Power Generating Plant, the Project is subject to the Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act (Minnesota Statutes Chapter 216E), which requires the preparation of a state-equivalent EIS. The EIS requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act are substantially similar, and DOE has prepared this EIS in cooperation with the MDOC to fulfill the requirements of both laws.