Tag Archives: Tennessee Valley Authority

Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and SEED Welcome Phase-out of Luminant Coal Units in Northeast Texas

Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and the SEED Coalition welcomed the announcement today by TXU-Luminant that it will phase out two units at its coal-burning power plants and cease lignite coal mining at its Monticello Plant in northeast Texas.

“The announcement by Luminant today is a victory for all Texans who care about clean air. Coal-fired electricity is the primary source of toxic mercury pollution and is a leading trigger of asthma attacks. Children, the elderly, and anyone with respiratory illness are especially vulnerable to air pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants,” said Eva Hernandez with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Texas. 

Karen Hadden of SEED coalition adds, “Monticello is one of the worst units for mercury pollution in the nation. Mercury pollution results in brain damage to children.”

Luminant’s announcement can largely be tied to poor financial management according to a report released in March 2011 from analyst Tom Sanzillo demonstrated Luminant’s poor financial management of the Monticello, Big Brown, and Martin Lake merchant coal plants . The report can be found here.

The Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and the SEED Coalition call on Luminant to follow the examples of other rational coal plant phase outs around the country and to protect workers and support clean energy reinvestment.

In March, Tennessee Valley Authority announced that it would phase out 18 units at its coal-fired power plants in the Southeast. This victory for clean air could be achieved, TVA said, while retraining workers for clean energy jobs or transferring them to other facilities. San Antonio’s CPS Energy announced the retirement of the Deely Coal while committing to retrain the workers for clean energy jobs or transferring them to other facilities.  The transition to clean energy in San Antonio will create between 800 and 1,000 local, clean energy jobs.

“Luminant’s actions are a good first step, but fail to get to the real issue. Even with low-sulfur Western coal, the emissions from the Big Brown plant are some of the highest in the state” said Tom “Smitty” Smith with Texas Public Citizen.  “Luminant needs to develop a long term plan for retiring Big Brown in addition to its temporary idling of units at Monticello.”

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Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign counts 97 coal plants retired or committed to phasing out since the beginning of 2010. Those 97 coal plants represent 33,000 megawatts of dirty energy, or almost 10% of the coal power in the country.

Contact:  Eva Hernandez, 512-299-1550, Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, 512-797-8468

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URGENT: Stop Chisum Amendments from Destroying Contested Case Hearing Process

Smokestacks from a wartime production plant, W...

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Call your state representatives, this will be hitting the House Floor tomorrow morning.  Find your representative’s contact information here.

From Ken Kramer, Lone Star Chapter Director:

“State Rep. Warren Chisum is seeking to hitch a ride on the TCEQ sunset legislation for one of his other stalled House bills (House Bill 3251). This Chisum bill – now resurrected as a proposed amendment to the sunset bill – would eliminate the opportunity for a contested case process by which Texans may seek adequate protection for their communities and families from mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

“This Chisum proposal would relegate ‘public participation’ in air pollution permit amendments for electric generating plants to a public review and comment process and a public ‘hearing’ where community residents could come and vent their concerns about the permit amendment – but without any leverage to pressure the permit applicant to negotiate improvements to the permit amendment.

This Chisum amendment arises because – as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision a couple of years ago – coal-fired power plants and other electric generating facilities are going to have to meet stronger standards (‘MACT’ or ‘maximum achievable control technology’ standards) under the federal Clean Air Act for controlling ‘hazardous air pollutants’ such as mercury and toxics. That will require amendments to current air permits. Rep. Chisum wants to do away with the opportunity for a contested case on those specific permit amendments. Doing so, however, would remove the ability of citizens to make sure that those hazardous air pollutant control standards are as protective of their health and their environment as they need to be. Texans need to retain that leverage of a contested case process to get coal plant operators to the table to agree to tighter air pollution protections or to get TCEQ officials to require truly protective emission limits.”

Call your state representatives, this will be hitting the House Floor tomorrow morning.  Find your representative’s contact information here.

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Red Sludge, Grey Sludge-Same Problem

On Tuesday afternoon, a flood of toxic red sludge engulfed several towns in southwestern Hungary. An estimated 185 million gallons were spilled when a storage tank for the sludge, a byproduct of aluminum production, burst and sent the sludge gushing into the surrounding area. Houses and streets were flooded, cars swept away, and four people lost their lives with more than 120 others injured by burns from contact with the highly alkaline substance.

Efforts to clean up the red sludge

The environmental consequence might be even more devastating. By the time it was all said and done, more than 16 square miles of farmland and countryside were buried beneath the toxic mess, and experts are worried the environmental effects will be devastating for a much larger area. Fish and wildlife in local streams have already been killed, and officials fear the sludge will be carried downstream, polluting the Danube River and affecting at least four other countries in addition to Hungary.

While red sludge is regulated by the European Union, it is not considered hazardous waste in all cases. Similarly, red sludge is not a toxic or carcinogenic substance under United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

Does this situation sound familiar? It should.

In December 2008, a spill of similar magnitude destroyed a Tennessee community. The culprit that time—coal ash. Since then, through the efforts of the Sierra Club and environmental organizations across the county, Americans have begun to realize of the dangers of coal ash. Stored in huge, often unlined pits, toxins from coal ash such as lead, mercury, and arsenic can seep into ground water, ruin soil, and, in the case of the Tennessee accident, destroy entire communities and ecosystems.

Tennessee Coal Ash Spill

While we cannot do much about the tragedy in Hungary, we can do something to combat the exact same problems that exist here at home, across the nation, and perhaps in your backyard. Responding to these frightening realities, the EPA has initiated a series of hearings across the nation to receive public input in the decision to bring coal ash under federal regulation as a toxic waste. The EPA’s open comment period regarding regulation of coal ash has been extended to November 19. Visit www.regulations.gov and referenceEPA-HQ-RCRA-2009-0640” to make your voice heard. You can also take further action and learn more about the perils of coal by visiting the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal website: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/default.aspx.

Live from the EPA Hearing in Dallas

We’ve got pictures at the bottom of the post!

9:20 Good morning everybody! We’ve been up for a while preparing… our executive director Michael Brune is here, ready to rumble, along with the mighty delegations from Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and of course from all around the great state of Texas.

9:30 Brief interview with a concerned Louisianan. Yet another quick interview, with some even more awesome folks from Louisiana! Are they the greatest team of coalfighters you’ve ever met? We report, you decide. Seriously.

9:45 Best poster of the day! Kiss her Coal Ash!

11:00 Press conference with Executive Director Mike Brune, pediatrician Karen Lewis, Director of Public Citizen Texas Tom “Smitty” Smith, State Representative Jessica Farrar (Houston) and others… pictures on the Twitter feed!

11:10 Some early footage of the press conference (a little fuzzy, apologies!)

11:20 Karen Lewis, MD talks about the health effects of coal ash.

11:15 State Representative Jessica Farrar of Houston explains why she supports strong coal ash regulation.

12:00 Lunch panel starting in 15 minutes, the best Q and A on coal ash you’ve ever heard!

1:00 We’ve got pictures of the panel at the bottom of the post, and folks enjoying the Sierra Club snack room as well.

1:30 Corpus Christi legend Hal Suter prepares for his testimony.  Listen to his fantastic comments on the TCEQ’s willingness (or unwillingness) to regulate the coal industry here.

2:00 Ladies lay down the coal ash law!  Check out what they’ve got to say in this clip right here.

2:10 Another Texan here to regulate coal ash. Heck yes.

2:30 Pick up your coal ash mess, gosh darn it!

2:49 Katie from Dallas reppin’ Texas Campaign for the Environment.  She is not a fan of coal ash.

3:09 Updated pictures of all the action. Check out our gallery, it’s almost like you’re there, isn’t it?

3:32 ED Mike Brune: “It’s been an inspiring day, seeing so many people from the region taking action to protect their air, their water, their health.”

3:49 Susan from Oklahoma City came all the way to Dallas to tell the EPA what’s what with coal ash regulation.

4:05 Smitty from Public Citizen, to the rescue!

4:21 A student from Louisiana, representing all the people who couldn’t be here today.

4:32 This guy rode 1800 miles from Arkansas to Dallas- just to give his testimony at the coal ash hearing!

5:15 Shondra from Houston and her thoughts on coal ash. In her spare time, she’s shutting down the White Stallion coal plant in Bay City.

5:30 We are tired. We are hungry. But we are still cranking out the Strong Rule testimony!

5:48 Doctor Randy Smith, President of Texas Impact, talks about being a good steward of the land, and respecting the earth that God has entrusted to us.

6:13 Bokoshe, Oklahoma residents talk about how the hearing is going. We’re screening the Bokoshe film in fifteen minutes.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.

7:57 Just finished some powerful closing events.  We watched “In the Air we Breathe”, about Bokoshe, Oklahoma, and the stars of the film were there to take questions.  Check out the pictures to get a sense of what went on…

8:00 We’ve still got people filtering in to give their testimony!  It’s not over yet!

8:15 Louisiana delegation relaxing with some interesting techniques.  Check out pictures of them playing “ninja” and working out a human knot (it’s been a long day).

8:52 Alright, we are shutting down the shop! It’s time for a hurricane party at the Hyatt Regency… good luck to the folks at the rest of the hearings!

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The Best of the Best Coal Ash Videos

Sometimes, it’s just easier to watch TV.  Get educated on coal ash and watch these great videos! Don’t forget to sign the petition to the EPA asking them for a strong coal ash rule, and the Dallas coal ash hearing is only a week away, on September 8th! If you want to go, and for more information, visit www.cleanuptexasnow.org

Here’s one starring Texas.

My personal favorite, from Earthjustice.

Bokoshe-In the Air We Breathe from Jar of Grasshoppers on Vimeo.

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