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NEWS RELEASE

Adhoc committee for Regional Impacts Disclosure 218-327-2737 8-4pm m-f

For Immediate use

EQB  decision postponed on MN Power request for exemption

St. Paul, MN - The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board has postponed until April 20th a meeting (originally March 30) that was expected to rule on Minnesota Power's request that a construction permit for its proposed 12-mile leg of the proposed Arrowhead-Weston project be granted without the public scrutiny the process requires under the Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act. The MEQB did not provide a reason for the cancellation. The agenda for the canceled meeting noted that more than 1,300 individual comments had been received from citizens in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Many of the comments regard the disclosure of the regional environmental and social impacts of the 345kV line. MEQB's legal counsel has informed the Board it may exercise its discretion and grant a "summary denial" of the exemption application at this stage, ending the need for public hearings on the question of whether to prepare environmental impact statements. If, instead, the MEQB calls for a public hearing on the question, it must determine whether the scope of study should include regional impacts. Citizen groups in Minnesota, Manitoba and Wisconsin argue that the line is part of a regional project, and therefore must be considered in regional terms. An Ad Hoc Committee for Regional Impact Disclosure has formed to call on Minnesota Power to drop its request for an exemption, and to disclose publicly the full regional impacts of the project, including questions about the source of the power to be distributed, and the ultimate beneficiaries of the Arrowhead-Weston line.

The group has placed newspaper and radio ads (KDAL and WEBC) in Duluth. To date, Minnesota Power continues to maintain that there will be no impacts of the project outside of Minnesota, and that therefore no regional impacts should be considered, even though the proposed line will not serve any Minnesota customers. -30-