Local Advocates & Environmental Groups Declare Victory
BAY CITY, TX – After years of grassroots challenges, White Stallion Energy Center developers have chosen to suspend the proposed plant. When the project was first announced, local residents joined together to question the air pollution, water consumption, and accuracy of the developers’ promises. More and more Matagorda County residents joined together to oppose the plant, along with business owners, land owners, members of the medical community, and local elected officials. The Sierra Club, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, Environmental Integrity Project, and Environmental Defense Fund join the No Coal Coalition in celebrating the cancellation of the White Stallion Energy Center.
“The White Stallion developers came to Matagorda County, thinking they could lure us into supporting a project that would suck up our water, pump mercury into our bay, and pollute our air. Brave residents asked tough questions, and realized the White Stallion plant would harm our community and our economy. This plant is cancelled because we organized to protect our families and Matagorda County,” said Eva Malina, president of the No Coal Coalition, the local organization fighting the plant. “I think they thought that since we were a small rural community, they would not encounter opposition. They were wrong.”
Developers had trouble securing sufficient water to operate the plant and the necessary funding to develop the proposed plant in earnest. In November 2011, amid strong grassroots opposition, the Lower Colorado River Authority voted to deny a contract to provide water to operate the plant. In May 2012, local fishermen and business owners publicly announced their opposition to the plant because it would be a major new source of mercury pollution in a community whose economy is tied closely to the bay. The plant also suffered a blow when a court ruled against its challenges to Clean Air Act safeguards.
Since the plant was proposed in 2008, the Texas electricity market has shifted substantially, with wind power and natural gas driving electricity prices so low that huge, capital-intensive new coal plants could not compete. Wind power provided over 20% of Texas’ electricity on peak days in 2012, and new wind farms will bring more clean, low-cost electricity to the Texas grid in 2013 and the near future.
“Huge, dirty coal plants like White Stallion can’t compete with cheaper, cleaner fuels. Texas wind energy is booming, and will continue to grow. We haven’t begun to tap our solar and geothermal resources yet, which will further fuel a clean energy revolution in the Lone Star State,” said Lydia Avila, organization representative with the Sierra Club. “Ultimately, the White Stallion proposal didn’t match the values of the community or the direction of the Texas energy economy. This is a major victory for everyone fighting for clean air, clean water, and the health of our families.”
Texas utilities had proposed to build more than two dozen new coal boilers at new and existing plants over the past decade, yet in keeping with national trends, a total of 13 plants and 21 coal boiler proposals have failed and were cancelled. Recently, Chase Power, LLC., suspended the proposed Las Brisas plant in Corpus Christi, and Tenaska’s proposed Trailblazer Energy Center near Sweetwater, TX, has been unable to secure the water needed to operate and has been stalled for more than a year. Nationwide, 175 proposed coal plants have been cancelled, and 139 existing plants are on the path to retirement. Coal is providing the lowest share of U.S. power in more than a generation as clean energy powers more homes and businesses across Texas.