Edward Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Louis, MO – Late yesterday, Ameren Missouri submitted a mandated long-range energy plan with state regulators that calls for the massive expansion of burning fracked natural gas. The change of plans was prompted when Ameren announced the expedited retirement of its Rush Island coal plant, instead of adding modern pollution controls, after the utility was found liable of violating the Clean Air Act by a federal judge. The United States Department of Justice and Sierra Club, the Plaintiffs in the case, filed a response criticizing Ameren’s pattern of delay regarding the retirement timeline with the federal judge this past Tuesday.
Ameren’s new plan proposes a new 1,200MW combined cycle power plant that burns fracked gas in 2031, with plans to pursue site studies, permitting, and engineering before 2024. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of fracked natural gas. Methane emissions are released into the atmosphere throughout the fracking process, at abandoned gas wells, during pipeline transportation and storage, and also when burned at power plants. However, Ameren’s energy plan does not consider the upstream impact of methane emissions in its undefined plan to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050, nor does it consider the environmental justice impacts of this decision. Earlier this year, Sierra Club released a report detailing how the failure of gas during Winter Storm Uri caused massive blackouts and skyrocketing electric bills for millions of people, as well as recommendations for avoiding similar scenarios in the future.
Ameren’s plan also doubles down on coal. Ameren moves the retirement date for its Sioux coal plant from 2028 to 2030 and continues to project that the Labadie plant will operate until 2042. Ameren’s Labadie coal plant is the largest coal plant in the country without modern air pollution scrubbers, which is one reason it will likely have to comply with pollution reduction upgrades when the Environmental Protection Agency’s updated Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is finalized.
Other parts of Ameren’s new energy plan increases the total amount of solar and wind from 3,100MW to 3,500MW by 2030, and new battery storage in the 2030s that wasn’t included in its 2020 plan.
Statement from Jenn DeRose, Missouri Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign:
“Ameren’s decision to illegally operate its Rush Island coal plant in violation of the Clean Air Act in 2010 begets another terrible decision, the utility’s new proposal to lock-in the burning of fracked natural gas that is a major cause of our rapidly changing climate. Utilities in Oklahoma and Indiana are ditching their coal plants, avoiding new gas, and massively investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency to meet energy demand for their customers. Knowing this transition is happening in nearby states makes it even more troubling that Ameren doesn’t even consider expanded solar and wind, in combination with energy storage and efficiency, as a portfolio that would avoid any reason to build a dirty, dangerous, and expensive gas plant. Ameren needs to build more renewables and storage, make major investments in energy efficiency and demand response, and close its polluting power plants to preserve human life and prevent the most detrimental impacts of catastrophic climate change.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.