Joint Response to Federal District Court Final Judgment in the Federal Permitting Case

American Transmission Co., ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative 

We disagree with the March 1 ruling by the Federal District Court that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may not approve the proposed crossing of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project in the Upper Mississippi National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and that the environmental impact statement for the project requires changes. However, we are gratified that the Court rejected the plaintiffs’ efforts to enjoin construction of the Project and upheld the Project’s wetland and endangered species approvals.

We believe federal law allows the Project to cross the Refuge with appropriate environmental conditions and that the government fully complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We plan to promptly appeal the Court’s decision.

Today’s ruling is another example of the misguided sentiment that the project is detrimental to the environment. In actuality, the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project is the essential bridge that enables renewable energy to be brought to market, resulting in a significant reduction in carbon emissions. Traditional baseload generating plants are being retired throughout Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest at an unprecedented pace, especially coal plants. This decision creates a setback to a cleaner energy future and only results in increased costs due to this unnecessary delay.

Following extensive study and review, state and federal regulatory agencies granted approvals for this project based on the tremendous benefits it provides. The Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line will help ensure the cost-effective, renewable and reliable energy that consumers are seeking is available and affordable. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), Wisconsin regulators and Iowa regulators have determined the project is necessary to reduce energy costs.

Generation and distribution utilities are depending on the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project. The critical role of this project in meeting the region’s energy needs compels the co-owners to ensure it is built for the benefit of electricity consumers by December 2023.

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