This week Judge Yelenosky in Austin found that Governor Perry lacked the authority to fast-track coal burning power plants, and as a result, the hearings for the seven consolidated coal plant permits were extended by four months time.
As result of KKR and Texas Pacific Group's leveraged buyout of TXU Corp. the eight total Powder River Basin coal plants TXU has been pursuing in Texas have been dropped. New ownership provides an opportunity for dialogue, and we hope to see an increased willingness to address the serious health and environmental concerns related to coal-burning power plants.
We are very pleased that company has agreed to back off on the eight coal plants they proposed that would burn Powder River Basin coal. This is a major victory for the citizens of Texas, and now it's time for TXU to get serious about reducing pollution at existing coal plants, and at Sandow and Oak Grove, plants that they still choose to pursue.
Three of TXU's existing plants rank among the ten worst in the nation for mercury pollution, and mercury controls should be installed on each of these coal plant units. It time for TXU to support significant increases in energy efficiency, to pursue renewable energy, and to steer away from both coal and nuclear power, which remains dangerous and deadly.
The organizing, educating and media work that citizens have done throughout the state has been raising awareness and creating pressure. Citizens were in contested cases against the plants at all of the proposed locations. It's very clear that citizens in Texas want clean air to breathe, and clean air for their children and grandchildren.
Oak Grove: The Oak Grove plant is further along in the permitting process than the plants that will be scrapped. Robertson County Our Land Our Lives is a party in the contested case. The hearing is over and Administrative Law Judges at the State Office of Administrative Hearings recommended denial of the permit for Oak Grove, a huge 1720 MW lignite plant proposed for Robertson County, The judges believed that the pollution controls would not be adequate to reach the emission levels in the permit and cited several other permit flaws as well. Oak Grove alone could spew out as much pollution as 350,000 cars, and its 1440 pounds of toxic mercury emissions would risk contamination of Texas' waterways and fish. Mercury causes permanent brain damage in children, and at a time when the nation as a whole is striving to get down to 15 tons of mercury a year, adding 1440 pounds makes no sense. Oak Grove's nitrogen oxide emissions could be enough to cause Austin to go into non-attainment for health based air quality standards.
Texas' environmental agency, TCEQ, could make a decision on whether to approve the Oak Grove permit as early as mid-March. We are open to talking to KKR and Texas Pacific Group about this plant and their upcoming plans for the company.
Press Statement: Battles Won, Coal Plant War Continues Karen Hadden Executive Director Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition