Tag Archives: luminant

Merry Earth Day! Handy Resources for YOU!

Earth Day is Friday, April 22.  Great stewards of the planet that we are, we like to celebrate it all month, eh?  If you have tabling events planned and want some materials or if you just want to learn more, download these EARTH DAY MATERIALS.  You can print these (in color?) for distributing at your tables.

Sierra Club Membership forms (3 per page) that you can print, cut, collect and mail with new members’ checks or credit card info.

Sierra Club’s Featured Earth Day ACTION — Gather comments on the EPA new proposed Mercury and Air Toxics rule.  Here are the postcards (2 per page, double-sided, color — need to cut them.) for the EPA Mercury and Air Toxics rule.  Please gather signatures at your Earth Day events and return these signed Mercury Postcards to:  Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, P.O. Box 1931, Austin, TX  78767.  Thank you!


Fish Guide that shows which types of fish have the most mercury in them.
A Poster for backdrop display.


Texas Clean Energy Future is Now fact sheet.
Texas Living Waters Municipal Water Conservation fact sheet.
Global Warming and the Lone Star State
(kind of long EDF publication at 24 pages)
Outings Posters — Outings are the most frequent way that people become interested in Sierra Club!
State Capitol Report on Luminant coal plants.

The Verdict is In on Nuclear Power:  Dirty, Dangerous, Expensive fact sheet.

If you have a laptop at your tabling event, you can show off Sierra Club communications!  Please bookmark and use these:

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Luminant’s Three Should be First to Go

Luminant’s Economic Problems Loom Large:

Martin Lake, Monticello and Big Brown Should Be Retired

Click here for a powerpoint presentation of the report released today.

Today, Sierra Club released a report entitled The Case to Retire Big Brown, Monticello and Martin Lake Coal Plants: Three Mismanaged, Unprofitable, Outmoded and Worthless Coal Plants in North Texas. The report details the economic realities for the three named coal plants owned by Luminant.  These plants were examined, in part, because they are three of the largest polluters in the state of Texas, have no modern pollution control equipment to manage their emissions, and are facing the worst economic reality of any privately-owned utility.  The report looked closely at:

  • The 2007 leveraged buyout of TXU Corporation;
  • The current prices of both coal and natural gas; and,
  • Power prices in the North Texas region of ERCOT, Texas’s electrical grid that encompasses most of the state.

The report concludes that with three basic economic facts—high fixed costs, low natural gas and power prices in Texas, and the need for large new investments to meet environmental requirements—these three Luminant plants should be retired.

“The Sierra Club commissioned this report to demonstrate that coal does not work in Texas.” said Jen Powis Senior Regional Representative for Sierra Club.  “After months of research, these plants epitomize why dirty coal shouldn’t have a seat at the Texas energy table. Coal is our largest polluter in the state, can’t be run economically, and these three plants are upside down on their mortgage.  Texas should be phasing coal out.”

The report briefly explains the history behind the highly-leveraged buy-out of TXU Corporation by a consortium of private equity investors and the assumptions they mistakenly made about the Texas electricity market. Because these plants were originally overvalued and the market did not expand as predicted, these three plants are ready for immediate retirement.

“These coal plants are and will continue to be a big financial burden to Texas. The 2007 TXU deal has failed, current markets work against coal plants and the future is bleak for Luminant’s Big Brown, Martin Lake, and Monticello,” said Tom Sanzillo, a financial and policy analyst for TR Rose Associates.. “Retire the plants. There are better, cleaner, financially stable and more efficient solutions that do not cover the Texas landscape in mountains of toxic debt.” Sanzillo has examined coal and energy issues in over ten states in the last four years and is the former First Deputy Comptroller for New York State.

A recent report by the Brattle Group, a utility industry consulting firm, reaches a similar conclusion but examined the economics of all merchant coal plants in Texas.  A merchant coal plant is one that sells into the grid at wholesale, meaning it is not part of a regulated utility.  Texas has 19 operating coal plants, only five of which are owned by regulated utilities.  All of Luminant’s five coal plants are merchant plants but these three thirty-year old plants are the oldest, coming on-line in Texas in the late 1970’s.  While the report demonstrates why these three plants fail for economic reasons, they also hold much of the blame for North Texas’s and Oklahoma’s problems with air pollution.

“Big Brown, Monticello, and Martin Lake are three of the worst polluters in Texas accounting for over 25% (over 400,000 tons a year) of all industrial factory air pollution in Texas.  That’s out of nearly 2,000 industrial plants.” Said Dr. Neil Carman, Air Quality Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “They also account for about 50% of all coal plant pollution.  These three coal plants alone emit almost 4,000 pounds of mercury into the air every year, over 180,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, over 30,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, and millions of tons of carbon dioxide, the prinicipal greenhouse gas.   All of those emissions are carried into the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and then up into Oklahoma to Oklahoma City.”

According to EIA data from 2009, Texas is third in the nation in megawatt hours produced by coal plants but also leads the nation in installed wind power, with over 10,000 megawatts of wind mostly in West Texas.  By most accounts, Texas could immediately install another 10,000 megawatts of wind generation should additional transmission lines be built to bring wind power from West Texas into Texas’s main population centers in the East.

A national discussion is currently underway concerning how best to invest to improve our system of electricity for the next generation” said Jen Powis.  “Texas should be leading the way in that discussion, and frankly, we shouldn’t be including coal.  Why would Texas import coal from other states to burn for electricity when we haven’t even tapped our powerful wind and solar potential?  We can lead the way in job creation and economic development in these technologies.”

Click here for the Report or here for the Powerpoint presentation.

Ready to move Beyond Coal?  Get involved with Sierra Club!  Email lonestar.chapter@sierraclub.org

Explore, Enjoy, Protect

Posted by Donna Hoffman, 3-17-11

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What’s coming out of Monti, Marti, and Brownie’s Stacks?

Sierra Club and Environmental Integrity Project want to know. 

Luminant's Big Brown coal plant in Fairfield, Texas

That’s what Neil Carman, Sierra Club’s Clean Air Program Director calls Luminant’s Monticello, Martin Lake, and Big Brown coal plants.  Together with Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club has found over 50,000 violations of the Clean Air Act at the Martin Lake plant alone.  The three, east Texas coal plants together emit over 5,000 pounds of mercury pollution each year and together are three of the largest carbon polluters for Texas. 

Now, we want to know other ways Luminant might be breaking the law.  The EPA has the info, but so far won’t give it up. That’s why yesterday Sierra Club and Environmental Integrity Project asked the EPA to hand over the documents in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in federal district court in San Francisco. 

Most of all, we want Luminant to clean up their act.  And ultimately, we want Texas to move beyond burning coal for electricity and continue on the clean power path with energy efficiency and renewables.

Here’s Jen Powis, Sierra Club Regional Beyond Coal Campaign Manager:

For too long Luminant—and particularly these three plants—have been polluting the air in Texas and our neighboring states.  The Freedom of Information Act allows the public to obtain these documents so we can see for ourselves whether Luminant has violated the law in more ways than we already know about.  If Luminant has broken the law, then the company should be held accountable and if the state or the EPA won’t do it, then Sierra Club should.

Read more here.

~  Donna Hoffman

Sierra Club Challenges EPA to Create Texas Clean Air Plan

Today we challenged the EPA to help make it right in Texas! The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality  hasn’t delivered the required State Plan for meeting US Clean Air Act, national ambient air quality standards in our state. So! We’re holding EPA to do it. Its a good law for us breathers!  Click to read about the suit in federal district court…

Luminant's Big Brown Coal Plant is one of 21 coal plants operating in Texas. They contribute a huge amount of industrial pollution including ground level ozone smog-forming Nitrogen Oxides, plus sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon Dioxide and mercury. Nasty stuff.

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Cleaning up and Phasing out Coal

Sierra Club is not only making it hard to build new coal plants in Texas, we’re also cleaning up and phasing out existing Texas coal.  When Luminant took over TXU after the first wave of the Texas coal rush, the investor group promised to clean up.   Sierra Club is ready for clean air and lots more clean energy, so we’re helping them stay true!

Donna Hoffman, Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club

50,000 Air Pollution Violations at Martin Lake

Over 50,000 Air Pollution Violations Lead to Legal Challenge of Luminant/TXU’s Martin Lake Coal-Fired Power Plant

Sierra Club:  Dirty Power Plant is Highest in Mercury Emissions in U.S.;

Action Taken After Texas Agency Ignores Problem and Fails to Act.

(Texarkana, Texas) — More than 50,000 air pollution violations at the massive Martin Lake coal-fired power plant led the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project, to file a lawsuit today in federal court against plant owner Luminant (formerly TXU).

The Martin Lake plant, located near Longview, Texas, is one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation.  It is the worst power plant for mercury pollution among all U.S. coal plants, emitting 1,764 pounds in 2008, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory.  In Texas, Martin Lake ranked third for asthma-causing soot pollution and was responsible for 13 percent of all industrial air pollution in the state. [i]

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has ignored years of repeated excessive soot pollution and other violations at the Martin Lake plant, putting the health of nearby communities at risk.

The lawsuit is based largely on company self-reported emissions data that indicates that the coal-fired power plant is emitting far more fine particle pollution than it should.  Fine particles from power plants have been linked to asthma attacks, lung ailments, and thousands of premature deaths a year.

Like all coal-fired power plants, Martin Lake emits a toxic soup of air pollution in enormous volumes each year, especially soot particles, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.  These chemicals combine in our air to create dangerous levels of ozone, acid rain and smog that worsen asthma and other respiratory diseases.  Carbon dioxide causes global warming.

Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter:

“Luminant’s Martin Lake coal plant is consistently among the dirtiest in the entire nation and one of the worst polluting coal plants in Texas every year. Martin Lake has the highest total air pollution (168,000 tons) among more than 2,000 industrial plants statewide. In fact, Martin Lake accounted for 13 percent of all industrial air pollution in Texas in 2008 and 20 percent of all coal plant pollution.  That’s a huge amount of pollution from this one source.”

Pollution from the Martin Lake power plant and its smokestack plumes can drift for hundreds of miles over communities in East and North Texas and all the way into Oklahoma, putting the health of the several million Texans and Oklahomans who live downwind at risk.  Martin Lake’s emissions make it particularly problematic for areas to achieve minimum air quality standards.  It particularly contributes to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area’s air quality problems and federal ‘non-attainment’ status.  Non-attainment refers to a region’s inability to meet minimum public health safeguards for amounts of pollution in the ambient air surrounding citizens.  Non-attainment affects the region’s eligibility for federal funding.

Ken Kramer, Director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter:

“The egregious amount of air pollution from Luminant’s Martin Lake coal plant is highly dangerous for the health of people living in Rusk and surrounding countiesMartin Lake’s massive plumes of smog-forming nitrogen oxides are also one of the  reasons the Dallas-Fort Worth area experiences high ozone levels and does not meet the Clean Air Act’s standards for human health.  The pollution from Martin Lake also drifts across state lines into Oklahoma and Arkansas.”

Suma Peesapati, an attorney with Earthjustice who is representing the Sierra Club in the action:

“Sadly, sometimes only a citizen lawsuit, like the one filed today, can clean-up a dirty facility like the Martin Lake coal plant. The time has come for Luminant to come into compliance with federal air quality laws that it has been able to avoid, until now.”

Ilan Levin, senior attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project said:

“This coal-fired power plant is consistently in the top 10 highest carbon dioxide emitters in the nation, the top 50 highest sulfur dioxide emitters in the nation, and is shamefully ranked number one as the highest power plant mercury polluter in the U.S.. There is no “safe” level of exposure to fine particles according to EPA – in other words, emissions from this Luminant power plant will continue to damage the environment and the public’s health regardless of whether the surrounding area meets federal air quality standards. Our goal is to stop illegal air pollution through strict enforcement of the law.”

Although the TCEQ is charged with enforcing violations of the Clean Air Act, its enforcement policy and practice have ignored Martin Lake’s emissions.  While this legal challenge alleges over 50,000 violations for the last 5 years, TCEQ has not issued one enforcement notice, nor corrected any of the deficiencies at the plant through that same time period.

See the legal complaint here:  http://tinyurl.com/29zkzlu

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