Tag Archives: Power station

Who’s got the MACT?

Not Texas. And we need it.

Due to the Clean Air Act, the EPA will be proposing a series of public health protections this year, including boiler MACT, which is intended to limit hazardous air pollutants, or air toxics. The boiler MACT (maximum available control technology) protection will cut down on emissions of air toxics like mercury, arsenic, lead, dioxin, and acid gases.

How? It basically means that all of our dirty ol’ powerplants will need to install equipment to match the best-performing and cleanest plants for each type of pollutant. Existing power plants will have more time to meet the standard—taking into account available technologies and cost.

To be clear: mercury is a neurotoxin. It can cause central nervous system damage.  It is the reason for which many lakes and rivers have warnings about eating the fish, and why pregnant women are advised not to eat any seafood at all.

Of course, some people don’t think the EPA should exist, or enforce the Clean Air Act, blah blah blah. Well, forget them. We need this. And we need to show that we want the EPA to do its job.

Get Active. Sign up to be a Texas Healthkeeper.

But why should Texans care?

One teaspoon of mercury is sufficient to contaminate a 20-acre lake. Our lakes.

But we’ll let these pictures do the talking: it’s probably worth a thousand words.

From Environment Texas.

From Environment Texas.

From Environment Texas.

Ready to protect our Texas rivers, our land, and most importantly, our health?

Join us!

Get Active. Sign up to be a Texas Healthkeeper.

Flavia de la Fuente
Conservation Organizer

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Failure to Operate

Remember the rolling blackouts? Today, the Senate hauled up the public utilities and several commissions up to testify at the Capitol. We wonder how they’ll explain away our reliance on fossil fuels to carry us through the 21st century:

From the Austin American Statesman:

The storm knocked more than 80 of the state 550 generators offline, according to early explanations, primarily because of frozen or broken equipment, including safety instruments that shut down some of the state’s largest, newest coal-fired plants.

Luminant has reported that the blackouts cost the company $30 million when several of its generating plants broke down, forcing it to buy electricity on the open market, where prices rose from $50 per megawatt-hour to $3,000 .

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the POTUS Responds

Check out the (POTUS) President of the United States’ official statement on the blackouts:

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, these blackouts were actually the result of extreme cold temperatures and high winds, which led to a variety of mechanical failures at more than 50 power plants around the state.

Anytime communities experience major outages, it is a cause for concern, and major utilities and regulators are investigating steps that can be taken to decrease any weather related vulnerability of power generating plants in the state that, unlike their northern counterparts which experience extreme cold every winter, are often not designed to withstand such rare weather conditions.

Some are trying to blame these blackouts — which the industry has already provided explanation for — on Clean Air Act standards under consideration to curb dangerous pollution, including carbon pollution. While these claims gained traction on the internet, there is a major problem with this theory — no power plant in Texas has yet been required to do anything to control carbon pollution.

Woah there…you mean powerplants that are over thirty years old are subject to mechanical failures? But…but…they were supposed to be unsinkable energy-producing Titanics!

-Flavia de la Fuente, Conservation Organizer

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Wind Power Keeping the Lights on in Texas

Vestas wind turbine, Dithmarschen.

Image via Wikipedia

Guess who’s keeping the lights on in Texas? Wind power. Check out this statement released by the American Wind Energy Association. The blackouts demonstrate the unreliability of coal power and the importance of building more and more energy efficiency and conservation measures into our systems.

How’s that for grid reliability?

Many parts of the Texas experienced rolling blackouts today, coinciding with unusually cold temperatures across many parts of the state. Millions of customers statewide appear to have been affected. Here are the facts as they are currently understood:

· Wind energy played a major role in keeping the blackouts from becoming more severe. Between 5 and 7 A.M. this morning (the peak of the electricity shortage) wind was providing between 3,500 and 4,000 MW, roughly the amount it had been forecast and scheduled to provide. That is about 7% of the state’s total electricity demand at that time, or enough for about 3 million average homes.

· Cold and icy conditions caused unexpected equipment failures at power plants, taking up to 50 fossil-fired power plants totaling 7,000 MW of capacity offline.

· The cold temperatures caused electric heating demand to exceed the demand expected for this time of year. Many fossil and nuclear power plants take planned outages during non-summer months for maintenance, since electric demand is usually lower during these periods than in the summer.

· The cold temperatures led to very high demand for natural gas for heating purposes, which may have strained the ability of the natural gas pipeline and distribution system to meet both these heating needs and the need to supply natural gas power plants (Texas obtains about half of its electricity by burning natural gas, and gas power plants account for about 70% of the state’s generating capacity).

“While we are still learning about what happened today, this weather event clearly demonstrates the importance of developing and maintaining a diverse energy portfolio that is not overly dependent on any one energy source,” said Michael Goggin, Manager of Transmission Policy, American Wind Energy Association. “This experience shows just how valuable a clean, affordable and homegrown energy source like wind can be in contributing to a reliable electric system.”

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more than 2,500 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at AWEA’s website. Find insight on the industry on our blog, Into the Wind, join us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

-Posted by Flavia de la Fuente, Conservation Organizer

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This is Why We Don’t Like Coal Plants

If built, White Stallion coal plant could hasten 600 Matagorda County deaths.

A few years ago, the Clean Air Task Force came out with a report “Dirty Power, Dirty Air” that Texans have been pointing to since Governor Perry’s Texas coal rush began in 2005. The report has recently been updated and you can see the health impacts and related economic costs from coal plant pollution in our state in this latest version, “Death and Disease from Power Plants.”

Coal plant pollution is linked to asthma and early mortality.

Today, the No Coal Coalition of Matagorda County, Sierra Club, and Public Citizen announced additional data calculated by the awesome scientists who produced that report. Their data shows that, if permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) then built and allowed to operate, the White Stallion Coal Plant would mean potentially 600 early deaths in Matagorda County from the nasty emissions of ozone-smog forming nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants.

Sierra Club is stopping new coal plants, cleaning up and phasing out existing ones. We want to Phase out LCRA's Fayette coal plant in favor of clean energy and green jobs in Energy Efficiency and Renewables.

Early mortality is one of the big reasons we don’t want the Texas Commssion on Environmental Quality to vote the wrong way when the Administrative Law Judges’  proposal for decision on the White Stallion coal plant comes up on the TCEQ agenda next Wednesday in Austin.

At press conferences today in Bay City and Houston, Sierra Club and the No Coal Coalition, se presente!  Here’s what Dr. Barton Griffith, a Matagorda County resident and physician with the No Coal Coalition had to say —

This report just provides more scientific and statistical evidence backing up what the local medical community has recommended — that we do not want the White Stallion coal plant. It is a great health and ecological danger to our county.

Read more about it on the Lone Star Chapter’s press release.
Donna Hoffman, Communications Coordinator, Lone Star Chapter

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