Coal Victories Across the Nation!
Power4Georgians Cancels Plans for Ben Hill Coal Plant in Georgia
On April 10, clean air advocates and environmental groups achieved a huge victory when Power4Georgians - the only company trying to develop expensive new coal plants in Georgia - agreed to cancel the proposed Ben Hill coal-fired power plant. The company also agreed to comply with critical new safeguards against mercury pollution and invest $5 million in energy efficiency and renewable projects. Sierra Club, the Fall Line Alliance for a Clean Environment (FACE), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center and GreenLaw, successfully challenged the air permit for the proposed Plant Washington, and the settlement agreement is pending approval by each group. If built, Power4Georgians’ Plant Washington will have to meet much more protective emission standards for mercury and other air toxins. To read our press release, click here!
Mississippi: State Supreme Court Remands Permit for Kemper Coal Plant
On March 15, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that dealt a major blow to the dirty, expensive, and unnecessary proposed Kemper coal plant. Siding with Sierra Club, the Supreme Court ruled that the Public Service Commission had not provided evidence to support its May 2010 decision to allow Mississippi Power to raise project costs that would be passed off to local customers. In April 2010, the Commission determined that the proposed plant was a risky investment and capped the cost of the project at $2.4 billion. Less than a month later, the Commission overturned its decision, allowing Mississippi Power to raise project costs yet again without an explanation. The Supreme Court remanded the issue to the Commission for further proceedings.
LS Power Abandons Plans for Longleaf Coal Plant in Georgia
December 12, 2011 - The country’s longest-running campaign against construction of a new coal plant ended today when LS Power announced that it will cancel plans to build the Longleaf Energy Station in Blakely, GA. Sierra Club, Friends of the Chattahoochee and GreenLaw have been organizing against the Longleaf coal plant since it was first proposed in 2001.
This victory marks the 160th proposed coal plant canceled since Sierra Club launched its Beyond Coal campaign in 2005. This victory is particularly noteworthy because the struggle lasted for a decade and involved numerous hearings and appeals, and sustained local opposition by hundreds of Georgia residents. Longleaf was one of the very first plants proposed when, in 2001, the coal industry attempted to block clean energy development by building more than 150 new coal plants across the U.S., a move which would have effectively locked the nation into dependence on dirty coal-fired electricity for the foreseeable future.
The announcement comes as part of a nationwide agreement with Sierra Club that also requires LS Power to abandon its proposed Plum Point 2 coal plant in Arkansas and imposes strict new limits on air pollution from the new Sandy Creek coal plant in Texas. The agreement requires the company to withdraw all requests for permits in Georgia and Arkansas, and that any issued permits be rescinded or revoked.
Michigan: Consumers Energy Abandons Plans for Coal Plant in Bay City
December 5, 2011 - Consumers Energy has officially abandoned plans to build its proposed $3.57 billion, 830-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Bay City, Michigan. Consumers deferred construction of the plant back in May 2010, and this latest announcement is the final death knell for the project.
Sierra Club and its allies fought this project for years, both on the ground and in the courts. The Club engaged in every step of the permitting process; most recently challenging the proposed extension of the plant’s construction permit in state court with Natural Resources Defense Council. The Club’s efforts to stop this coal plant were part of a larger grassroots campaign to move Michigan beyond coal and transition the state to a clean energy economy. Michigan, once home to eight new coal plant proposals, now only has two newly proposed coal plant projects that remain active. Through advocacy and education, the Club and its allies have demonstrated that coal-fired power is dirty and unnecessary, and cheaper, cleaner alternatives are readily available to meet future energy needs.
Consumers has also announced plans to mothball seven of its older, existing coal-fired units around the state by January 1, 2015, including units at the Karn-Weadock coal plant. Consumers has determined that it is no longer economical to operate these aging, dirty coal plants. The proposed coal plant would have been built alongside the existing Karn-Weadock plant in Essexville.
Proposed Ohio Coal-to-Liquid Refinery Dead
Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are celebrating the end of a long, hard-fought legal battle to move Ohio beyond coal. Baard Energy has agreed to abandon plans for its proposed coal-to-liquids facility in Columbiana County.
Over the last four years, Sierra Club and NRDC have mounted a number of legal challenges against the pollution permits issued to the facility, raising significant concerns with the plant’s dangerous air pollution, water discharges, and global warming pollution. The agreement, negotiated by Sierra Club and NRDC, will effectively stay the environmental groups’ litigation while Baard Energy and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) work to modify the project’s permits to remove coal as a feedstock and reflect the resulting emissions reductions. Baard has stated that it will pursue a natural-gas-to-liquid facility on the plant site instead. To read more, click here!
Minnesota: Public Utilities Commission Cancels Plans to Convert Steam Boiler to Coal
On September 27, 2011, the New Ulm Public Utilities Commission (NUPUC) voted to suspend project activities for a proposed conversion of Boiler #4 to coal at its steam plant in New Ulm, Minnesota. Concerned citizens cheered as commissioners voted not to move forward with a plan that would have increased air pollution and cost the city over $23 million.
The NUPUC plan to convert Boiler #4 to burn coal was part of the long term energy plan developed in 2006. New Ulm Citizens for Clean Energy has been working with Sierra Club and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) to stop the project from moving forward since NUPUC applied for an air permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in 2009.
At a July meeting, NUPUC's consultants Sargent & Lundy presented an updated economic analysis of the project that concluded coal was no longer the most economic option for New Ulm, but recommended that the Commission move forward with the air permit application. After revisiting the report and acquiring additional information on natural gas and coal pricing, NUPUC staff recommended suspending work on the project, writing in the recommendation that the “project has lost its economic benefit to the City of New Ulm.”
Arkansas: Eighth Circuit Upholds Preliminary Injunction Against Turk Coal Plant
On July 14, 2011, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold the preliminary injunction against SWEPCO, preventing construction of the Turk coal plant that is covered by the project’s Clean Water Act permit. The Court held that Sierra Club and its allies had shown a high likelihood that construction of the Turk plant would irreparably harm the environment. The Circuit Court’s ruling prohibits SWEPCO from discharging dredge and fill materials into jurisdictional wetlands, impacting streams, placing the water intake structure at the bank of the Little River, and spanning transmission lines across the Little and Red Rivers.
Georgia: Court Remands Air Permit for Longleaf Coal Plant
On April 19, 2011, a Georgia administrative law court dealt a victory to opponents of the proposed Longleaf coal plant, when it ruled that the plant’s air permit did not do enough to limit harmful air pollution. The court ordered the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to reconsider the plant’s permit after it found flaws in provisions designed to make Longleaf a "minor" source of toxic air pollution, a designation that would allow Longleaf developers to circumvent stricter pollution controls. EPD had previously determined that the plant would be a “major” source of such pollutants. The court found that the permit’s monitoring and reporting scheme could “miss” many tons of toxic air emissions each year, including emissions of known carcinogens like formaldehyde, and that the permit did not account for toxic air emissions from the entire facility. The court remanded the permit to EPD to address these issues.
West Virginia Air Quality Board Remands Air Permit for Coal-to-Liquids Plant
On March 28, 2011, the West Virginia Air Quality Board remanded the air permit for the proposed TransGas coal-to-liquids facility to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Board sided with Sierra Club and its allies and ordered DEP to modify the air permit with respect to three important issues.
The overarching issue was whether DEP had reasonably estimated the plant’s “potential to emit” to fall below the “major source” threshold, and thereby avoid additional permit requirements. The Board agreed with Sierra Club and its allies that DEP could not reasonably assume that the plant’s flare would destroy 99.5% of carbon monoxide to support the facility’s classification as a minor source. The company now has to procure a vendor guarantee for that amount prior to approval of a minor source permit. The Board also agreed that the application and permit did not contain enough assurances about air pollutant emissions during startup, shutdowns, and malfunctions. Finally, the Board agreed that air pollutant emissions from the yet-to-be-designed wastewater treatment may need to be considered in the facility’s potential to emit.
The Board’s decision will push TransGas to obtain an updated permit that more accurately reflects the plant’s emissions sources. While TransGas’s spokesperson has stated that the company intends to break ground in June, there is still no indication that the plant has financing to begin construction.
Plans for 150 New Coal Plants Scrapped: Transition to Clean Energy Picks Up Steam
Purdue University has cancelled plans for a new campus coal-fired power plant, making the plant the 150th to be defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush. Thanks in part to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, not a single new coal plant has broken ground in the last two years and the industry has announced plans to phase out over 50 existing plants.
Purdue was the only university in the country planning to build a new coal plant. As of April 2010, the university had obtained all necessary environmental permits, authorized the necessary capital expenditure, and even set a construction start date. In response, Sierra Club, through litigation and grassroots organizing, campaigned to stop the Purdue coal expansion and transition the university to cleaner energy alternatives. Sierra Club and its Student Coalition’s efforts were vindicated when, on February 3, 2011, a committee of the Purdue University Board of Trustees passed a resolution to cancel plans to add a new boiler to the existing Wade coal-fired power plant. The university announced that it would develop a new energy plan to determine how the campus should be powered into the future.
Sierra Club and its Student Coalition will continue to push the university to follow the lead of nearly a dozen other schools and commit to ending its dependence on campus coal plants by switching to cleaner energy sources. To read more, click here!
Georgia Judge Rejects Air Permit for Proposed Coal Plant in Washington County
On December 16, Georgia Judge Ronit Walker rejected the air permit for Power4Georgians’ proposed coal-fired power plant in Washington County. In response to a legal challenge filed by Sierra Club and its allies, Judge Walker ruled that the air permit failed to adequately limit harmful air pollution from the plant, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division must now go back and reconsider more stringent emission limits for several air pollutants from the proposed plant.
Texas: Fifth Circuit Rules Sandy Creek Coal Plant is Violating the Clean Air Act
Wonderful news! On November 23, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Sandy Creek’s ongoing construction of the Riesel coal-fired power plant is in violation of the Clean Air Act because the company does not have a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) permit for the plant. The Riesel coal plant would be a major source of hazardous air pollutants like mercury, and the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality unlawfully approved the coal plant when it failed to set stringent emission limits for the plant's hazardous air pollution.
Sierra Club and Public Citizen originally challenged Sandy Creek’s failure to obtain a MACT permit for the Riesel coal plant in 2008, and have fought the plant all the way to the Fifth Circuit. This latest decision represents a monumental victory in Sierra Club’s fight to protect public health and move the nation beyond coal.
East Kentucky Power Cooperative Agrees to Halt Plans for Smith Coal Plants
As part of a landmark agreement with Sierra Club, other public interest groups, and individual ratepayers, East Kentucky Power Cooperative will immediately halt plans to build its two proposed Smith coal-fired power plants in Clark County. EKPC will no longer seek the permits it needs to proceed with construction. Instead, the cooperative will commit $125,000 toward a collaborative effort in which plaintiff groups, EKPC and its member co-ops, and other parties will work together to evaluate and recommend new energy efficiency programs and renewable energy options in Kentucky.
Several factors contributed to the decision not to move forward with the proposed plants, including lower than expected demand for electricity, a moratorium imposed by the Bush Administration on low-cost federal loans for coal plants, and sharply rising construction and operating costs for new coal plants. In June, the Public Service Commission opened an investigation to determine if proceeding with the $819 million project was cost-effective and necessary. Studies commissioned by the public interest groups participating in the agreement concluded that a combination of clean energy technologies would be a cost-effective way to meet EKPC’s demand, while also reducing financial risk to customers, generating jobs throughout the region, and benefiting public health and the environment. To read more, click here!
Arkansas: Federal Judge Orders SWEPCO to Stop Construction on Turk Coal Plant Site
On October 27, U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson issued a preliminary injunction ordering SWEPCO to stop all work on the Turk coal plant site that is covered by the project’s Clean Water Act permit. The ruling prohibits SWEPCO from discharging dredge and fill materials into jurisdictional wetlands, impacting streams, placing the water intake structure at the bank of the Little River, and spanning transmission lines across the Little and Red Rivers. The decision comes in response to Sierra Club and its allies’ Clean Water Act lawsuit alleging that the Turk plant poses a serious risk to wetlands and wildlife, and represents the third consecutive court ruling against SWEPCO’s construction of the coal plant. A six judge panel of the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled unanimously last year that the Arkansas Public Service Commission erred in 2007 by approving construction of the plant, and the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously upheld that decision in May 2010.
ODEC Delays Plans to Build Massive Coal Plant in Virginia
On September 8, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative announced that it is delaying plans to build the $6 billion Cypress Creek Power Station. Citing uncertainties in energy demand and environmental regulations, the Cooperative says that it is voluntarily extending its permitting schedule and anticipates restarting the process in 18-24 months. The Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition, a group of regional and national environmental organizations, praised this decision and urged ODEC to permanently withdraw the coal plant proposal in favor of energy efficiency and renewables, including offshore wind and solar. These alternatives would more than offset the 1,500 megawatts from the delayed plant, keep electricity rates down for consumers, and reduce harmful air and water pollution. Sierra Club and its allies have steadily opposed the plant and are thrilled by this opportunity to work with ODEC and state regulators to reduce Virginia’s global warming impact and pursue clean energy alternatives.
Michigan Denies Air Permit for Holland’s Proposed Coal Plant
Great news! On August 20, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment denied the air permit for the city of Holland's proposed 78-MW coal plant. The state rejected it on the grounds that the plant is not needed and did not adequately consider clean energy alternatives. This decision marks the second proposed coal plant that Michigan has rejected this year in favor of energy efficiency and renewables, and represents a monumental victory in Sierra Club’s campaign to move Michigan beyond coal.
Kentucky Sends Cash Creek Water Permit Back to Drawing Board
On June 10, in a rare move, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet decided to re-open proceedings on the Cash Creek plant’s water permit, in response to concerns that pollution from the plant would degrade the Green River. The plant would have discharged millions of gallons of polluted waste into the river every day. Sierra Club, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, and Valley Watch originally challenged the water permit in early March, claiming that the permit failed to control dangerous toxic pollution from the plant. Now, the public will have another chance to convince the state to keep the Green River clean, as the state prepares to hold a new public hearing on the plant.
Michigan Denies Air Permit for Wolverine's Proposed Coal Plant
On May 21, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) denied the air quality Permit to Install for Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative’s proposed 600 megawatt coal plant. DNRE’s decision was based on a report from the Michigan Public Service Commission that found that Wolverine had not demonstrated a need to construct the proposed coal plant. The MDNRE also noted that the construction of this coal plant would increase Michigan’s average electricity rates by 59.2%, making them the second highest rates in the nation.
Arkansas Supreme Court Invalidates Permit for Turk Plant
On May 13, 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the state Court of Appeals ruling invalidating the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction and operation of the Turk coal-fired power plant. The state Supreme Court ruled that the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) failed to adequately assess the need for the plant, consider alternatives and properly analyze the plant’s environmental and economic impacts in a single proceeding; instead, it illegally chopped all of the considerations into separate proceedings. The PSC must now go back and reassess the need for the plant.
Toquop Coal Plant Abandoned in Favor of Cleaner Natural Gas and Solar in Nevada!
In March 2010, Blackstone Group LP and its subsidiary Sithe Global officially announced that it was dropping plans for its 750-MW coal plant near Mesquite, Nevada in favor of cleaner natural gas and solar power. The developers will build a 700-MW natural gas plant with a 50- to 100-MW photovoltaic solar plant instead. In its announcement, Blackstone/Sithe Global cited environmental impacts from the coal plant, such as massive emissions of carbon dioxide and the consumption of large amounts of water, for the switch. Constructing the natural gas/solar plant is estimated to cost $1.4 billion and create as many as 1,000 jobs.
Sierra Club and a number of allies have fought the Toquop coal plant for years by educating the public about the adverse environmental and health impacts associated with burning more coal, and advocating for cleaner and safer renewable energy alternatives. We also participated in a number of approval proceedings before the state’s Public Utilities Commission and Department of Environmental Protection.
Blackstone/Sithe Global’s decision to scrap the coal plant follows a string of recent cancellations of other proposed coal plants in Nevada. In March 2009, LS Power Associates/White Pine Energy withdrew plans for its 1,600-MW coal-fired White Pine Energy Station due to economic conditions and regulatory uncertainty. A month earlier, NV Energy abandoned plans for its 1,500-MW coal-fired power plant near Ely, citing the infeasibility of capturing and storing greenhouse gas emissions.
NRG Officially Abandons its Plans to Expand the Big Cajun II Plant in Louisiana!
In late February 2010, NRG submitted its Title V operating permit renewal application for its Big Cajun II facility to the Louisiana DEQ. In its application, the company stated it was not going to construct a fourth unit at the facility and asked the agency to remove emission limits and related operating requirements associated with the new unit. In the past year, there has been little forward movement on the proposed 705-MW unit, which, if built, would have emitted over seven million tons of CO2 into the air each year. In early March 2010, NRG asked the Louisiana DEQ to withdraw the current PSD permit for the proposed expansion.
Sierra Club and our allies Louisiana Environmental Action Network and Alliance for Affordable Energy have been fighting NRG’s proposed expansion for years by educating the public about the adverse environmental and health impacts associated with burning more coal and advocating for cleaner and safer renewable energy alternatives. We were heavily involved in the public commenting process surrounding the various permits needed for the project and filed a state court lawsuit challenging the PSD/construction permit in January 2009. That lawsuit has been on hold for the past few months and it isn’t immediately known what effect NRG’s cancellation will have on the litigation. The Tulane Environmental Law Clinic has represented the Club in its various challenges to the proposed expansion.
Seminole Electric Cooperative Abandons Plans for Massive Coal-Fired Power Plant
On December 17, 2009, Seminole Electric Cooperative announced that it was not moving forward with the construction and operation of Seminole Unit 3. The massive coal-fired unit would have emitted a staggering 6.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and millions of tons of several other air pollutants annually. Sierra Club and its allies have been fighting this coal plant for over three years, and this decision represents a monumental win in Sierra Club's fight against global warming and dirty, antiquated energy sources.
As Sierra Club Senior Staff Attorney Joanne Spalding said, 'we are excited that Seminole made a wise decision and will not continue pursuing this project. Continuing our dependence on coal chains us to dirty and outdated energy and prevents us from making the changes we need to bring about a clean, secure energy future for our children and grandchildren.'
Eastman Chemical Co. Drops Plans for Coal Gasification Plant in Texas
On December 9, 2009, Eastman Chemical Co. announced that it had cancelled plans to build the proposed $1.6 billion gasification facility in Beaumont, Texas. The company cited several factors for dropping the project, including high capital costs, lower natural gas prices, and uncertainty around proposed federal climate legislation. Eastman has stated that it will continue to “explore global industrial gasification opportunities,” but has no plans to develop the project site.
Coal-fired plants are huge emitters of global warming pollution. Texas is the leading state in dirty coal-fired plants, with 17 coal plants on-line and 12 new coal plants proposed, and this decision represents a big win in Sierra Club’s fight against global warming.
AMP Abandons Proposed AMP Generating Station in Meigs County, Ohio!
On November 25, 2009, American Municipal Power Inc. (AMP) announced that it was abandoning plans for a new coal plant in Meigs County, Ohio and exploring plans for a natural gas plant at the site instead. AMP blamed the escalating price tag for building the proposed plant for its decision. A November 2009 estimate showed costs jumping more than 35% from the last estimate in May 2009. Since first proposed in 2006, the price tag for the plant has risen from $1.5 billion to almost $4.0 billion.
Sierra Club and our allies have fought AMP's proposed coal plant every step of the way. The 960-MW plant would have emitted more than 5 million tons of carbon dioxide, as well as other dangerous air pollutants, into the air every year. Sierra Club is currently challenging a number of permits relating to the proposed plant before the Ohio Environmental Appeals Commission and it is not immediately clear how AMP's announcement affects those proceedings.
Utilities Pull Plug on Big Stone II Coal Plant Project
On November 2, 2009, the participating utilities in the proposed Big Stone II project announced that they would no longer pursue building the project’s massive coal-fired power plant and related transmission facilities. This decision comes shortly after Otter Tail Power Company, the lead developer of the project, pulled out. Remaining participating utilities were unable to find a new financial partner to replace Otter Tail.
Sierra Club's Law Program and Minnesota and South Dakota activists have been fighting this coal plant project for four years, opposing the plant before the South Dakota and Minnesota Public Utilities Commissions, the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sierra Club attorneys also challenged the coal plant in South Dakota state and federal court. This decision is largely the result of a strong multi-state effort against the project and represents a major win in the Club’s fight against dirty energy sources and global warming.
EPA Remands Air Permit for Desert Rock Plant
On Friday, September 25, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board remanded the PSD/construction permit for the 1,500-MW Desert Rock plant back to U.S. EPA, Region 9 (decision below). In April 2009, Region 9 asked the Board to voluntarily remand the permit so that the agency could reevaluate the permit with respect to five issues: 1) using PM10 as a surrogate to satisfy PSD requirements for PM2.5; 2) issuing the final permit before concluding its consultation under the Endangered Species Act; 3) issuing the final permit before concluding its analysis of the case-by-case maximum available control technology for hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act; 4) failing to consider IGCC technology in its BACT analysis; and 5) relying on an outdated screening analysis when determining any additional impacts from the proposed facility.
Proponents of the Desert Rock plant filed a number of objections to the agency’s request, but on the 25th, the Board sided with Region 9, deciding that the permit should be remanded on two separate grounds. First, the Board concluded that it was appropriate to grant the region’s request for a voluntary remand for several reasons, such as judicial and administrative efficiency and recognizing that the region’s evaluation may result in changes to the permit. Second, the Board found that Region 9 abused its discretion in two ways when it failed to consider IGCC technology in the BACT analysis for the proposed plant. First, the region failed to provide a rational explanation for why it stated that IGCC technology would "redefine the source" when Sithe Global admitted it could consider IGCC for the new plant. Second, the region also failed to provide a rational explanation for its conclusion on IGCC since the technology has been considered in the BACT analysis for other permits issued by the agency.
Sierra Club has fought long and hard against the Desert Rock plant. We organized events with our Navajo partners to lobby against state tax breaks and also organized local educational sessions to raise awareness about air pollution from the plant. The Club provided small grants and connected Navajo-based groups with other environmental activists across the region, and supported the Navajo Green Jobs program just approved by the Nation Tribal Council as a positive alternative to the proposed facility. The Environmental Law Program worked with a broad coalition of conservation groups to prepare comments on the Desert Rock Plant's Clean Air Act permit, and appeal that permit to the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board.
Otter Tail Pulls Out of Big Stone II Coal Plant Project
On September 11, Otter Tail Power Company officially withdrew from Big Stone II, both as a participating utility and as the project’s lead developer. Chuck MacFarlane, the company’s President and CEO, cited the recession and the probability of federal climate change legislation and regulation as central factors in the decision not to invest in the new coal-fired power plant. This is certainly a major setback for the project, which is now estimated to be completed in 2015, if at all. The remaining participants are currently seeking other funders to move forward.
Michigan Public Service Commission Rules State does not Need New Coal-Fired Power
On September 8, after reviewing Consumers and Wolverine's alternatives analyses, the Michigan Public Service Commission found that Michigan does not need new coal-fired power. In its reports, the MPSC (which functions as an advisory body to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) concluded that Consumers and Wolverine did not present compelling evidence that their proposed coal-fired power plants are necessary, and that the state could meet future energy needs through demand side management, such as energy efficiency. The MDEQ will now review Consumers and Wolverine's alternatives analyses, the MPSC’s findings on the alternatives analyses and the public comments that were submitted, and expects to make final decisions on the plants' air permits by the end of this year.
South Carolina: Santee Cooper Cancels Plans for 600 MW Power Plant
On August 24, 2009, state-owned utility Santee Cooper announced that it has abandoned plans to build its $2.2 billion, 600 megawatt coal-fired power plant along the Great Pee Dee River in Florence County, South Carolina. The company's chairman, O.L. Thompson, said the poor economy, pending carbon legislation and a decision by Central Electric Power Cooperative to buy power from another company in 2013 reduced the need for a new coal plant.
The Pee Dee power plant obtained an air permit last year from South Carolina regulators and was working for federal permits. The Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center actively opposed those permits in court, and today's decision is a tremendous victory in our fight against global warming pollution.
"Today's announcement is very encouraging," said Ann Timberlake, executive director of Conservation Voters of South Carolina. "We look forward to helping our utilities and electric cooperatives promote the cheapest, cleanest and most abundant energy source in South Carolina: energy efficiency."
100th Coal Plant Defeated!
Great news! As of July 8, 2009, 100 coal plants have been defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush! For the past six years the Sierra Club and its allies have been running a hard-hitting campaign to expose the dirty truth about coal. Tremendous grassroots pressure, rising costs and upcoming federal coarbon regulations all contributed to the demise of the 100 plants. This movement has kept well over 400 million tons of harmful global warming pollution out of the air annually, making significant progress in the fight against global warming. Stopping 100 new coal plants has also kept thousands of tons of asthma causing soot and smog pollution, as well as toxins like mercury out of our air and water.
The latest plant to fall was a massive 900MW plant in Delta Utah. The Intermountain Power Project was scrapped just days after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that LA would be coal free by 2020. The energy from this proposed plant would have supplied power to LA. Leading up to this monumental achievement were the announcements that Basin Electric Power Cooperative was abandoning its plan to build the South Dakota NextGen plant, and Northern Michigan University giving up on their dirty coal plant in favor of a cleaner wood burning plant.
However, the fight is not over. "The coal industry is still pushing foward with plans for dozens of new plants and pouring money into slick advertising campaigns and lobbying efforts," said Bruce Nilles, Director of the National Coal Campaign. "So while the coal rush may be entering a new phase in some parts of the county, it is far from over." Be sure to stay involved as we still have a lot of work ahead of us!
AR Appeals Court Rejects Permit for Turk Plant
On June 24, the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Hempstead County Hunting Club and other landowners and rejected SWEPCO’s Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction and operation of the Turk plant. The Court ruled that the Arkansas PSC did not adequately review plans for the project before granting the certificate. If SWEPCO wants to reapply for the permit, the Arkansas PSC must hold a new hearing to reassess the need for the plant.
LS Power Cancels Plans to Build 750 MW Coal Plant in Michigan
On May 1, 2009, LS Power announced that it has cancelled plans to build its $1.9 billion, 750-megawatt Mid-Michigan coal plant in Midland, Michigan. The company cited the poor economy and "regulatory uncertainties" for the decision. Although the Mid-Michigan plant is just one of eight proposed coal-fired power plants in Michigan, Tiffany Hartung, associate regional representative for the Sierra Club, said LS Power's decision reflects a national trend "that coal plants are a financially risky business."
Bruce Nilles, head of Sierra Club's efforts to stop coal power plants, hailed the LS Power action as a major win in the fight for a clean energy future. "Michigan and the Midwest are ground zero for coal-fired power plant," Nilles said. "The era of new coal plants is nearing the end."
EPA Seeks Remand of Desert Rock Power Plant Permit
On April 27th, US EPA Region 9 asked the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) to remand the Desert Rock PSD permit back to the agency for reconsideration. In its request, the agency said it would like to reconsider its permitting decision with respect to five main issues: (1) the use of PM10 as a surrogate to satisfy the PSD requirements for PM2.5; (2) the consideration of integrated gasification combined cycle in the BACT analysis; (3) the issuance of the final permit decision before completing the required Endangered Species Act consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; (4) the issuance of the final PSD permit decision before completing the case-by-case MACT analysis for hazardous air pollutants; and (5) the sufficiency of the additional impacts analysis for the proposed plant. It is unknown when or how the EAB will rule on the agency’s request.
The EPA’s request could represent a huge roadblock for the proposed plant. If the EAB grants the agency’s request, the permit would be sent back to the agency for additional analysis, triggering a new round of public notice and comment and adding months to the proposed plant’s timeline. A copy of the EPA’s request is available at the EAB website. You can read an article in Business Week about the agency’s action here.
Louisiana: Entergy Puts Little Gypsy Project on Hold for At Least Three Years
On April 8, 2008, the Louisiana PSC said it would allow Entergy to cancel all contracts associated with the Little Gypsy repowering project while the company puts the effort on hold for at least three years. Entergy initially requested the 3-year delay on April 1 because of uncertainty in key factors affecting the project, including falling natural gas prices, the national economic downturn, and federal energy policies, such as a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard and probable CO2 regulation. Entergy has stated that if it chooses to pursue the project in the future, it would have to start over with entirely new contracts.
Sierra Club has been fighting this project for years, and this decision represents a monumental win in our fight against global warming.
Sierra Club and its allies celebrated a major victory on March 11, when the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered Entergy Louisiana to suspend its plan for the Little Gypsy plant in St. Charles Parish. The PSC initially approved Entergy’s proposal to rebuild the existing natural gas plant to burn petroleum coke and coal in 2007. Soon after, Sierra Club and its allies asked the PSC to reconsider its approval due to the proposed plant’s high global warming emissions and escalating construction costs. Yesterday, the PSC agreed with Sierra Club, and requested that Entergy return for the commission’s April meeting to discuss the economic viability of the project.
Iowa: Alliant Energy Drops Plans to Build Marshalltown Coal-Fired Plant
On March 5, Alliant Energy announced that it is dropping plans to build its 630 MW Marshalltown coal plant. This decision comes shortly after LS Power abandoned plans to construct its 750 MW Elk Run coal plant in Waterloo, and marks the end of the "Coal Rush" in Iowa. Alliant cited the economic decline, the threat of a long regulatory proceeding and the increasing likelihood of carbon emission regulations as reasons for its decision to abandon the plant.
Alliant will not necessarily abandon its plant site, but is now working towards putting together a "Plan B" that will likely include clean, renewable energy. "Given that the Marshalltown proposal would have added more pollution to our state for the next 40-50 years, this is a tremendous victory for public health and Iowa’s growing clean energy economy," said Sierra Club’s Neila Seaman.
Nevada: LS Power "indefinitely postpones" the White Pine Energy Station!
On March 5, 2009, LS Power issued a press release stating that the company is "indefinitely postponing" construction of its proposed 1,600-MW White Pine Energy Station "due to current economic conditions and increasing regulatory uncertainties." The plant would have cost over $5 billion to build and would have emitted over 12 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. The company states that it intends to focus its efforts on a 500 mile transmission line from Idaho to Las Vegas which would provide access for renewable energy resources instead.
In keeping with its decision, LS Power has withdrawn its Utility Environmental Protection Act permit application from the state PUC of Nevada and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection has cancelled a public hearing scheduled in March 2009 regarding the proposed plant’s construction permit.
Northern Michigan University's Air Permit is Remanded Back to MDEQ to Consider CO2 Emissions
On February 18, Michigan took another huge step towards a clean energy future when the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) sided with the Sierra Club and ordered Northern Michigan University’s (NMU) air permit to be remanded back to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality because it failed to consider CO2 emissions from the proposed NMU facility. This decision came shortly after Gov. Granholm’s instructed her regulators to send four other coal-fired power plant proposals back to their applicants to analyze whether there are cleaner, smarter energy options for Michigan.
This decision also closely follows EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's announcement that the agency would be reconsidering Steven Johnson’s memorandum which sought to overturn a similar EAB ruling that forced the Deseret power plant in Utah to consider CO2 emissions in its air permit application. This ruling is a clear sign that the EPA is serious about addressing climate change, "[This decision] underscores [that] the days of ignoring CO2 are over, and we're thankfully in a new era when science is back in vogue," said Bruce Nilles, director of Sierra Club's Move Beyond Coal campaign.
Oklahoma: Shady Point II plant dropped. Two is too many!
On February 17, 2009, AES announced that it is withdrawing its permit application for its proposed 630-MW Shady Point II coal plant near Panama, Oklahoma. While AES said that its decision is "part of our broader strategy to re-evaluate our growth plans," it came on the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reconsider the Bush administration’s policy not to enforce pollution-control regulations on coal-fired plants. Additionally, local Sierra Club activists, as part of the Center for Energy Matters coalition made up of Audubon Arkansas, Clean Air Arkansas, National Wildlife Federation, Sequoyah County Clean Air Coalition, Sierra Club/Oklahoma chapter, and Public Citizen of Texas, strongly opposed the proposed plant.
Besides the approximately 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide the plant would emit each year, there was the possibility that pollution from Shady Point II could put Tulsa in non-compliance with federal Clean Air Act standards. The proposed plant would have been built next to an existing 320-MW coal plant, and local activists and the Center for Energy Matters strongly felt that an additional plant at the site was too many and that the state should be focusing on cleaner technologies instead.
Nevada: Ely Energy Center "indefinitely postponed"!
In early February 2009, NV Energy announced it was shelving plans for its proposed 1500-MW Ely Energy Center and would not consider any new coal projects. Costs for the proposed plant had already skyrocketed to $5 billion, and NV Energy said that the additional expenses of complying with future greenhouse gas emission regulations made the project uneconomical. NV Energy said it would reconsider building the Ely plant when carbon capture and sequestration technology becomes commercially viable, but that is not expected for at least another ten years. NV Energy plans to move forward with a 500-kV transmission line, which would give the company access to renewable resources, like geothermal and wind, in northern Nevada.
“NV Energy’s leadership on this issue is a turning point for the state of Nevada and its energy and economic future. By postponing indefinitely the construction of the Ely coal-fired power plant and focusing instead on clean energy, NV Energy is putting the best interests of its shareholders, its ratepayers and Nevada residents and business first. This landmark decision puts Nevada at the cutting edge of clean energy development in the nation, and that will pave the way to creating thousands of new jobs and putting the state on the road to renewed prosperity.” –Lydia Ball, Sierra Club
Montana: Southern Montana Electric Opts for Clean Energy, Abandons Highwood Coal Plant
On February 2, 2009, Montana came one step closer to a clean energy future with Southern Montana Electric’s decision to abandon its proposed Highwood coal-fired power plant. Sierra Club’s Move Beyond Coal campaign, in conjunction with local groups Citizens for Clean Energy and Montana Environmental Information Center and with the legal representation of Earthjustice, mounted a powerful opposition to the violation-wrought Highwood facility. For four years, Sierra Club and its allies have challenged SME’s proposed coal-fired power plant on grounds of its potential contribution to global warming and mercury and particulate pollution, while encouraging the company to invest in cleaner energy alternatives. Sierra Club salutes the local residents in the Great Falls area who actively fought against this plant, and applauds the project owner's decision to pursue a more sustainable, clean energy path to supplying electricity to Montana residents.
Wisconsin: Climate and Costs Force Commission to Deny Plants' Documents
November 11, 2008
Yet another coal plant defeated! A unanimous decision by the Public Service Commission in Wisconsin denied the certificate of need for Alliant Energy's Cassville Plant proposal. After an unprecedented number of public comments were received, in the end the number of people opposed to this plant outnumbered those in favor of by a ratio of 10 to 1! In its decision, the Commission cited both the risk of global warming and the huge costs to build this plant as the main reasons for denying the proposal. This is another huge victory for the Sierra Club who spent several months phone banking, writing comments, canvassing and attending meetings in order to stop this plant from being built.
Illinois: Sierra Club Wins Long Fight Against EnviroPower Plant!
October 27, 2008
After years of heated court battles, on October 27, Sierra Club finally defeated the proposed EnviroPower coal plant in Illinois, thanks to a 7th Circuit ruling. In the case, dating back to 2003, Sierra Club claimed that the permits given to EnviroPower were invalid because EnviroPower did not begin construction on the plant within 18 months of receiving the permit. After losing in district court, EnviroPower brought the case to the 7th Circuit on appeal. However, the 7th Circuit agreed with the district court's decision essentially stopping any future construction in its tracks. Now, if EnviroPower choses to move forward with this plant, they will have to begin the permitting process over again and it will likely take several years for that process to be complete. Sierra Club and the people of Illinois are thrilled that this plant was defeated. To read the courts opinion click here!
Oklahoma: Another Plant Loses in Court
October 13, 2008
Thanks to efforts by the Sierra Club, the coal industry's attempt to saddle Oklahoma ratepayers with paying for the cost of dirty, antiquated coal technologies that could be shipped out of state has been thwarted. AES Shady Point consists of one 320 MW coal-fired unit in Oklahoma near the Arkansas border and the company is planning to construct a second 630 MW supercritical pulverized coal unit in the same location. The second proposed unit is attracting strong opposition from a broad coalition of local citizens and groups in Sallisaw, Ft.Smith, Tulsa, Oklahoma City as well as the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation and Audubon. AES recently submitted an application to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which oversees public utilities in the state, to pass through the costs associated with new and changed emissions laws to ratepayers. The Sierra Club intervened in the proceeding to ensure that AES would not gain any financial benefits that would support construction of the new coal-fired unit, such as the ability to pass through the cost of future carbon regulations, and to protect ratepayers from the burden of paying for pollution control technologies on a coal-fired plant that should not be built in the first place.
AES is an independent power producer that sells all of its electricity to Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) according to a contract agreement. The Commission's staff moved to dismiss AES' application for cost pass-through because the Commission only has jurisdiction over public utilities, not private merchants like AES. The Sierra Club filed a supporting motion to dismiss that provided several additional reasons why AES' request should not be considered by the Commission. AES requested relief based on hypothetical facts related to nonexistent regulations, and thus, the Sierra Club argued that AES had no standing and sought an impermissible advisory opinion. The night before the hearing on these motions, AES and 0G&E announced that they were in settlement negotiations and a week later, AES voluntarily withdrew its application. The Sierra Club and its coalition members will continue to organize the local community and monitor the progress of permits for the new unit.
Georgia: Judge Rules Coal Plant Must Regulate Global Warming Emissions
GreenLaw, Friends of the Chattahoochee, Inc., and Sierra Club win a monumental case! On June 30, 2008 Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore issued a decision to halt construction of Dynegy’s Longleaf plant; Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee, Inc., represented by Greenlaw, filed the lawsuit in 2007 challenging the 1200 megawatt coal-fired power plant planned on the banks of the Chattahoochee River south of Columbus. The decision overturns an administrative court’s ruling that affirmed the state Environmental Protection Division’s (EPD) decision to issue an air permit for the project. The Judge ruled that the EPD erred in issuing the air permit because Dynegy’s Best Available Control Technology (BACT) analysis for the plant was inadequate.
The Judge held that EPD must regulate CO2 emissions from the plant. This is the first time that the April 2, 2007, Supreme Court decision-requiring the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions from industrial sources-has been applied and it will have far-reaching implications nationwide. As Bruce Nilles, Sierra Club leader of the National Coal Campaign said, "In one swift decision, it changes the debate around global warming regulation in the United States because it now means that every coal plant has to consider its CO2 impacts."
Kansas: Yet Another Major Victory Against Holcomb Coal Plant
May 21, 2008
On May 21, 2008, after twice failing to override vetoes by Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas legislative leaders called off a third effort to pass a bill that would allow Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to develop two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants at the utility's Holcomb power station in southwest Kansas. This retreat ends the Legislature's debate about the plants for the year and marks a critical global warming victory.
October 18, 2007
In a monumental global warming victory, on October 18, 2007 Kansas regulators denied an air permit for Sunflower Electric's proposed massive coal-fired power plant. The decision to not go forward with the 1400 megawatt plant marks Kansas a leader in the national surge of states rejecting coal power because of its major contribution to global warming.
"This decision clears the way for a bright, clean energy future in Kansas and across the Midwest," said Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign. "The Holcomb plant would have locked the state into another 50 years of dirty, polluting coal energy and eliminated the market for the renewable forms of energy that are the future. Kansas, and particularly West Kansas, is now perfectly positioned to develop its abundant clean energy resources, help solve global warming, and create thousands of new family-supporting jobs."
The plant, planned near Holcomb, would have mostly served out-of-state customers while emitting more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution a year. The pollution would have made it one of the three largest new sources of global warming pollution in the United States.
North Dakota: Company Suspends Efforts to Build Gascoyne 500 Coal Plant
May 20, 2008
Great News! On May 20th, Westmoreland announced it was putting on hold plans for its 500-MW coal-fired power plant near Gascoyne, citing uncertainty over future carbon regulations as the reason. Westmoreland withdrew from the Lignite Vision 21 program, a program designed to develop technology for use in energy development with North Dakota’s coal reserves, and returned over $500,000 in matching funds it received from the program. Westmoreland has applied for an air quality permit for the plant from the North Dakota Department of Health, which has been delayed because of uncertainty about federal mercury emissions rules. Local Sierra Club activists strongly challenged the proposed plant because of potential impacts to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. For more information, please see this article in the Bismark Tribune.
Missouri: Proposed Norborne Plant Put on Hold
March 3, 2008
Another plant goes down! In early March 2008, Associated Electric Cooperative (AECI) announced they were 'postponing indefinitely' their plans for the massive Norborne coal-fired power plant. According to the Kansas City Star, AECI decided against moving forward with the proposed plant due to environmental and financial concerns. The cooperative received the final construction permit for the Norborne plant from the Missouri DNR on February 22, 2008.
Utah and Wyoming: PacifiCorp Pulls the Plug on Western Coal Plants
December 6, 2007
In yet another important victory in the fight against global warming, on December 6, 2007 PacifiCorp announced that they would scrap their plans to construct their proposed Jim Bridger coal-fired power plant in Wyoming and their proposed Intermountain Power Project coal-fired unit in Utah. PacifiCorp, owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings and Utah's top energy producer, withdrew their filing to develop the plant "Because of the time-frame and the uncertainty around coal, based on climate change issues, (the company is) looking at a combination of natural gas and wind power projects," according to spokesman David Eskelsen. Combined, these two plants would have contributed an estimated 10 million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading cause of global warming, into the atmosphere each year.
PacifiCorp's decision comes in the wake of extensive organizing by Sierra Club volunteers and leaders. Tim Wagner, director of the Utah Smart Energy campaign, heralded the company's decision to switch to a less environmentally harmful energy source. "The proponents of IPP Unit #3 were telling me just a short nine months ago that it was going to get built, no matter what," said Wagner. "So seeing this 950-megawatt, west-desert dinosaur go down after three years of hard work is, in my opinion, the best Christmas gift the state of Utah could ever receive."
Washington: Proposed Coal Plant Put on Hold
November 27, 2007
On November 27, 2007 the state of Washington put on hold plans for a massive proposed coal-fired power plant planned for Kalama, WA. Members of the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) unanimously voted to reject Energy Northwest's alleged plan for permanently sequestering some of its carbon dioxide emissions, as required by state law. The council vindicated the position of the coalition of groups working to oppose the plant, including the Sierra Club, the Northwest Energy Coalition, the Washington Environmental Council, and Earthjustice, ruling that the developer had not produced an adequate plan for how they would store greenhouse gas emissions.
Iowa: State Regulators Rule Against Coal Plant Application
October 11, 2007
Opponents of a massive new coal-fired power plant proposed in Waterloo, including the Sierra Club and the Iowa Farmers Union, won a major victory in their fight against a proposed 750 megawatt coal-fired plant. On October 11, 2007 Iowa's City Development Board rejected the City of Waterloo's application to annex the land of non-consenting owners for construction of LS Power's proposed 750-megawatt Elk Run Energy Station. Board officials noted that LS Power can still build the plant without the city annexing the property, but the project must be approved by the Iowa Utilities Board and apply for permits from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Oklahoma: State Regulators Rule Against Coal Plant Application
September 10, 2007
In a step in the right direction, on September 10, 2007 the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) voted to reject a request for pre-approval of plans to build a massive coal-fired power plant near Red Rock, Oklahoma. The commission ruled that American Electric Power and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. did not prove that they had sufficiently explored alternative forms of energy in planning their proposed 950 megawatt power plant. This decision comes in light of a petition that the Sierra Club and Oklahoma Sustainability Network filed with the OCC stressing the need to exhaust demand side management opportunities, such as energy efficiency, before deciding whether the proposed Red Rock plant is really needed. In their 2-1 ruling the commission vindicated the Club's position, halting efforts to construct this proposed source of global warming and other hazardous pollutants.
Arizona: Community Succeeds in Preventing New Coal Plant
August 31, 2007
After undergoing months of pressure from local citizens and environmental groups, Southwestern Power Group announced on August 31 that the Company will burn natural gas instead of coal at its Bowie Plant's second unit. Cochise County Supervisor Paul Newman, a former state legislator, declared the decision as "a huge environmental victory for Cochise County and the state of Arizona." The plant was originally supposed to be comprised of two natural gas-fired plants, however after the first unit was built, Southwestern decided the second unit would run on coal as a result of increased gas prices. Southwestern's switch to coal ignited a local debate over the potential harmful impacts that the coal unit would have on residents, including increased pollution, excessive noise and other water and land changes. This move away from coal reflects growing trend of power companies acknowledging the major economic and environmental problems associated with coal burning. As Newman noted, "I do think that the energy industry in the West should take notice...the citizens don't want power plants that add to this greenhouse effect. We've reached a tipping point."
Florida: Another One Bites the Dust
August 21, 2007
In recent months, Florida has quickly become a leader in state efforts to combat global warming. Governor Charlie Crist has openly voiced his opposition to new coal plants; coal is a dirty energy source which releases a number of harmful pollutants that increase global warming and endanger human health. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a decision on August 21 denying the site certification for Seminole Electric's proposed 750 megawatt coal-fired power plant. In its ruling, the DEP found that Seminole did not show that the project minimizes "the adverse effects on human health, the environment and the ecology of the land." Secretary Michael Sole concluded that "Seminole failed to demonstrate that, if constructed and operated in accordance with its application, the proposed project will serve and protect the broad interest of the public and the application should therefore be denied."
Kentucky: Court Says No to Peabody Coal
August 6, 2007
The Sierra Club Environmental Law Program has succeeded in stopping a massive proposed Kentucky coal-fired plant in its tracks. In this important victory, Judge Thomas Wingate of the Franklin Circuit Court ruled against Peabody's proposed Thoroughbred plant, citing it as a threat to public health. The 1500 megawatt plant, planned for Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, would have been one of America's largest and most polluting power plants- emitting thousands of tons of air pollutants that cause smog and are known to cause severe public health problems including asthma and cancer. In addition, this defeated coal plant would have been one of the largest new sources of global warming in the United States, emitting over 12,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is half of all the carbon dioxide reductions that that the seven Northeast states are proposing to cut from all of their power plants annually by 2020.
In the August 6 ruling the court remanded Peabody's Clean Air Act permit back to the Secretary of Environmental and Public Protection, noting that the lack of modern pollution controls would not only endanger public health, but also "effectively foreclose construction of any new sources of air pollution in the region, potentially stifling industrial growth for decades to come." The court's rejection of the Thoroughbred plant opens the door to a cleaner energy future for Kentucky. By not locking itself into 50 more years of polluting technology, the state now has a chance to invest in efficiency and renewable energy, like wind, which can save consumers money, protect air quality, create good-paying American jobs and fight global warming.
Florida: On a Roll Against Coal
July 3, 2007
Less than one month after the Florida Public Service Commission's landmark rejection of the proposed Glades coal-fired power plant, a consortium of Florida utilities decided to pull the plug on their plans to construct an 800 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Taylor County, Florida. Backers of the proposed Taylor Energy Center suspended their efforts to obtain permits for this plant due to concerns about global warming. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups had challenged the proposed power plant last year before the Florida Public Service Commission and raised the threat of global warming in opposition papers to the plant. In addition to emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, this plant would have used nine million gallons of water each day. Taylor Energy Center's decision marks a major victory for Florida activists working to shape Florida's energy future and promote smart energy solutions.
Florida: In Landmark Decision, Florida Pulls the Plug on a Massive Coal-Fired Plant Proposal
June 5, 2007
For the first time since 1992, the Florida Public Services Commission voted to reject a proposal for one of the largest new coal-fired power plants in the United States. In a 4-0 vote the PSC denied Florida Power & Light's petition to build a massive 1960 megawatt coal plant next to Lake Okeechobee at the headwaters of the Everglades. The proposed plant would have been one of the largest single new sources of carbon dioxide in the nation, accelerating climate change that is already harming Florida, its residents, and its ecosystems. In rejecting FP&L's petition, the PSC agreed with the Sierra Club and other environmental intervenors that Florida can meet its energy needs with cleaner, less costly options. The PSC determined that the proposed plant was not cost-effective, particularly because it would expose Florida ratepayers to significant future costs for carbon dioxide emissions.
Sierra Club staff attorney Joanne Spalding lauded the PSC decision, stating, "In rejecting FP&L's Everglades coal plant, the PSC recognized that Florida residents cannot afford the costs of a massive new coal plant that will emit millions of tons of carbon dioxide and hundreds of pounds of mercury each year, harming the Everglades and exacerbating the impacts of climate change." Florida Governor Charlie Christ voiced his support for the PSC's landmark decision, stating that "As we seek to address the challenges presented by global climate change, leadership of the caliber demonstrated today by the Public Service Commission will be essential to our success."
Missouri: Sierra Club and Utility Agree to Landmark Global Warming Plan
March 20, 2007
In a groundbreaking agreement that can serve as a model for environmental groups and utilities working together, the Sierra Club, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), and the Concerned Citizens of Platte County (CCPC) have agreed on a set of initiatives to offset carbon dioxide (CO2) and reduce other emissions for the Kansas City-based utility. Under the agreement announced, KCP&L agreed to pursue offsets for all of the global warming emissions associated with its new plant through significant investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and cut pollution from its existing plants in order to improve air quality in the Greater Kansas City metro area.
The agreement proposes other investments in clean energy, significant decreases in emissions and resolves four appeals pending between the Sierra Club, CCPC, and KCP&L. The most significant element of the agreement is the unprecedented commitment by KCP&L to pursue the offset of carbon emissions from its proposed Iatan 2 generating station, located near Weston, Missouri. The estimated 6,000,000 tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions are targeted to be offset by adding 400 megawatts (MW) of wind power; 300 MW of energy efficiency; and a yet to be determined combination of wind, efficiency, or the closing, altering, re-powering or efficiency improvements at any of its generating units. These proposed offsets will be partially implemented by 2010 and fully implemented by 2012. The parties are also agreeing to work together on a series of regulatory and legislative initiatives to achieve an overall reduction in KCP&L's carbon dioxide emissions of 20 percent by 2020.
Texas: TXU Cancels Plans for 8 of 11 Proposed Coal-Fired Plants
February 24, 2007
As part of a$45 billion buyout by a team of private equity firms, TXU Corporation announced their plans to abandon plans to build 8 of 11 coal-fired power plants proposed across the state.Under TXU's agreement, they have pledged to: stop plans for building 8 of 11 new plants proposed for Texas, kill plans for new coal plants in Pennsylvania and Virginia, back federal legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through a cap-and-trade system, and double TXU spending to promote energy efficiency, to $80 million a year, for five years. This agreement comes in the wake of active litigation and opposition by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.
Illinois: Major Clean Air Victory in Chicago
September 20, 2006
In a huge victory for clean air, on September 28th, 2006 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) overturned the air permit for Indeck Energy Services' proposed 660 megawatt coal-fired plant near Chicago. The EAB sided with the Sierra Club in finding the permit deficient in four ways, including its emissions control requirements and its environmental impact assessments. Indeck planned to locate the pollution spewing plant in the Greater Chicago non-attainment area, a region home to eight million people. In addition, it would also have been located immediately adjacent to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the nation's first prairie preserve. The Sierra Club has actively worked to oppose this plant for the past three years, engaging the community and forming important alliances, including with the City of Chicago and American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago. The EAB's decision serves as an excellent opportunity for the state of Illinois to move towards a clean-energy future that harnesses safe and affordable energy options, including new wind farms and large investments in energy efficiency.
Illinois: Historic Settlement with Springfield Utility
July 3, 2006
On July 3, 2006 the City of Springfield and the Sierra Club reached a historic and unprecedented settlement regarding the City's plans to build a new 250 megawatt coal-fired plant. This landmark agreement stipulated that the municipal utility retire one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation, purchase 120 MW of wind, invest four million dollars in energy efficiency, and significantly decrease emissions of soot, smog and mercury pollution. In addition, all of the government buildings owned by the state of Illinois are to be powered with green electricity. The combined efforts of local, regional, and national Sierra Club groups yielded a settlement that will serve to promote clean energy, increase energy efficiency, and combat pollutants that cause global warming and threaten human health.
Michigan: Community Succeeds in Keeping Polluting Coal Plant Out
October 13, 2005
A small Lake Michigan community has succeeded in preventing a Texas-based corporation from constructing a massive coal-fired power plant in the heart of their town. Local officials originally rejected Tondu Corporation's permit application in 2004, acting to protect the town of Manistee from toxic pollutants such as mercury and to preserve the area's prized fisheries. However, Tondu responded to the town's attempt to protect its future by filing a major lawsuit in which they sought $59 million in “damages”. The Sierra Club joined the legal proceedings, working with the local community to ensure that the town would not have to pay for acting in its own best interest. On October 12, 2005 a federal judge threw out Tondu's lawsuit, vindicating Manistee residents' attempt to keep a major public health threat and global warming contributor out of their town.