I applaud Minnesota's Environmental Quality Board for responding to the petition of Honor the Earth by requesting further environmental review of the proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center ("PUC holds hearings on natural gas plant," Superior Telegram, Oct. 19). The concerns of indigenous peoples are too often disregarded.

The recent IPCC report warns that we have only a few decades in which to stop burning fossil fuels if we hope to avert catastrophic climate change. The proposed center would have a life expectancy longer than that.

Natural gas is not a "cleaner" alternative to coal. It is at least as dirty when the pollution released during its production and transport is considered. Regardless of what the new environmental review concludes, it's wrong to commit to an expensive project that locks us into decades' more use of a climate-destroying fuel.

The "need" for this plant seems dubious, in view of Judge Cochran's findings and the fact that eleven Northland mining, paper and energy companies - large power users - oppose the plant because there are less expensive ways to ensure reliable energy.

I am tired of hearing that the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. There's blowing and shining somewhere, and that's what regional distributed-energy transmission systems tap into to balance power supply and demand over large areas. With help from smart-grid technology, forward-looking business models, other types of green energy and advances in power storage, these systems will continue to improve - perhaps until utilities become power distributors rather than power producers and large-base plants fade into history.