After losing a 26,000 acre feet per year water contract with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the White Stallion Energy Center, a 1200 MW proposed coal plant for Matagorda County, Texas has had to scramble to find other sources of water. As a result, the developers announced a costly design change that they claim will reduce their water needs, but still require the equivalent of almost 1 billion gallons of water per year (about 3,000 acre feet). To meet this demand without a contract from LCRA, White Stallion has quickly turned to private landowners in Matagorda County in an attempt to gain access to groundwater. So far, most of the smart people of Matagorda County have not sold their private water, and the few sellers the coal plant’s developers have identified are not selling enough to meet White Stallion’s water needs.
Most critically, not only is the groundwater supply that the developer has identified not sufficient to meet White Stallion’s needs, but groundwater is also an unreliable water supply for a baseload utility planning to operate in a drought-prone state. The Coastal Plains Groundwater Conservation District (CPGCD), which manages groundwater for the area, adopted amendments to their rules on June 29th, 2012 to allow them to better manage and respond to aquifer conditions such as the ongoing historical drought. In order to protect the health of the aquifer for future generations, the District has implemented a curtailment scheme that will be implemented based on aquifer conditions (Subchapter B: Production Limits, Section 6.11.c, page 53). This is a proactive and sustainable approach to groundwater management and is meant to ensure the viability of the aquifer for future generations.
What does this mean for White Stallion and other permitees? If aquifer conditions reach triggers laid out in the rules, anyone who applied for a water permit or amended their permit for a different use after 2011 would be required to restrict their pumping by up to 80%. Since both of the landowners who have agreed to sell their water to White Stallion meet these criteria, only 600 acre feet of water per year is “guaranteed” during times where aquifer levels are low. Furthermore, all permits, under the CPGCD’s rules, are only valid for 3 years at a time– all permits are up for renewal every 3 years (Subchapter B: Application Requirements and Processing, Section 3.15.a, page 27).
Given the severity of the Texas drought in the past and its ongoing nature, it’s possible we will see curtailment in the future. Does this seem like a good investment to you?
-Lydia Avila, Associate Field Representative
The White Stallion Coal Plant is a project that — if allowed to be built would cost 2.5 billion dollars. More than that, it would be a gamble- betting our water future in the lower Colorado River basin against one of the worst droughts this state has ever recorded.
Public Opposition is Growing in Places like Matagorda County
With the drought reaching the worst in history for the Colorado River Basin, lake levels have fallen and not been restored to normal levels. According to the LCRA website itself, “water flowing into the [Colorado River basin] was 1 percent of average in June, and some tributaries are drying up.”
The plant is scheduled for completion in Matagorda County in 2015. However, the plant would require a water permit among others to begin construction. The plant executives have come to the LCRA for a 40-year water purchase contract. The contract, if passed, would sell 25,400 acre-feet of water per year- that’s the equivalent of about 15 percent of the usage of the entire city of Austin in 2009!
The LCRA will be voting to grant or deny a water permit for the coal plant on August 10th. In preparation for their vote, the LCRA will be having a meeting on July 28th at the Bay City Civic Center in Matagorda County. Bay City, only one mile south of the proposed coal-powered energy center, is in the position to be struck by new air and water pollution as well as sickness from known coal-plant byproducts such as arsenic, mercury, and particulate matter.
The Colorado River
We urge anyone in the area to come out to the LCRA meeting that starts at 6:30pm! In conjunction with the meeting will be a display of posters with beautiful photographs of Texas and the wildlife we want to protect. The display, Protecting What We Love: Our Health. Our Air. Our Water. Can be seen from 5-8pm and refreshments will be served. Please come and enjoy this stunning artwork and bring any questions you may have about the coal plant!
Click on the following links to read the proposed draft water contract, fact sheet, and press release.
For more information:
Governor Rick Perry's TCEQ Loves Coal Plants. Ignores Pleas of People for Healthy Clean Air.
Despite the wisdom of the Matagorda County medical community’s pleas in a letter signed by 30 doctors, despite its own Administrative Law Judges’ recommendations, despite the wishes of the residents of Matagorda County in the No Coal Coalition, Governor Perry’s Commissioners at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) today granted the White Stallion coal plant permit to pollute.
This morning, while citizens from Matagorda County including a class of school children watched, Chairman Shaw and Commissioners Garcia and Rubio, criticized the recommendations from the state’s administrative law judges and decided to grant the permit with special conditions. Sierra Club once again calls on the state legislature to reform the TCEQ so that it cannot continue to ignore federal and state air quality standards during the permitting process.
Air polution from Coal Plants is Linked to Asthma, other Respiratory Ailments, Heart Disease, Neurological Disorders, and Early Mortality.
“Once again, the Commissioners are doing the work for the applicant and using this failed system to avoid public input.” said Jen Powis Senior Regional Representative for Sierra Club. “Today’s decision is another pitiful example of how Governor Perry and his political cronies ignore federal and state law and reward companies to pollute in Texas.”
The Cronies — Perry’s TCEQ Commissioners Shaw, Garcia, and Rubinstein
“TCEQ is a failed agency and has failed the citizens of Texas again.” said Allison Sliva with the No Coal Coalition of Matagorda County. “The administrative law judges didn’t like this permit, elected officials in Matagorda County and Houston have raised serious questions about it, and the citizens don’t like it. But rather than consider these criticisms, the Commissioners ignored these concerns and simply granted it.”
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Tagged Air pollution, Alison Sliva, asthma, carbon dioxide, coal plant, death and disease from power plants, developmental delays, epa, Eva Hernandez, global warming, Governor Rick Perry, heart-disease, Jennifer Powis, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Matagorda County, mercury, NAAQS, neurological disorders, New Source Review, nitrogen-oxides, No Coal Coalition, ozone, particulate-matter, permit to pollute, respiratory illness, smog, sulfur-dioxide, tceq, TCEQ Sunset Review, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Sierra Club, Water pollution, White Stallion