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Gasping for Air: White Stallion’s Threat to Houston’s Health

Study Predicts More Unhealthy Air for Houstonians if Proposed Coal Plant Built

 New air quality modeling analysis of the potential White Stallion coal plant predicts dangerous levels of smog for Houston residents

Yesterday, Houston’s Vice Mayor Pro Tem, City Council Member Ed Gonzalez gathered with health and environmental advocates in front of an eighteen-foot inhaler at the reflection pool outside Houston City Hall to release Sierra Club’s new study showing the potential risks to Houston residents of increased ozone smog from the proposed White Stallion coal plant.

We must do everything in our power to ensure clean air for our families, neighbors and friends,” said Houston Vice Mayor Pro Tem, City Council Member Ed Gonzalez.  “The proposed White Stallion Energy Center, if built, would be located just 20 miles outside the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria non-attainment region.  I’m concerned that it would put the City of Houston at greater risk for additional bad air days and affect the quality of life for our citizens.”

Sierra Club’s new report, White Stallion’s Potential Impact on Houston Air Quality, prepared by Dr. Tammy M. Thompson with MIT’s Joint Program for the Science and Policy of Global Change finds:

  • Ground level ozone concentrations, or smog, measured at air quality monitors in the Houston area and averaged over eight hours, are often above the 84 parts per billion (ppb) limit, a National Ambient Air Quality Standard set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1997.  The Houston area therefore has been designated a “non-attainment” area for ozone and the City will struggle to meet attainment of the 84 ppb ozone standard by the year 2018.  The US EPA will announce in mid-2011, a new, health-based standard that will be a value between 60 and 70 ppb.
  • White Stallion proposes to release emissions of 4,048 tons/year of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), 288 tons/year of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and 5780 tons/ year of Carbon Monoxide (CO) from two stacks that would be located near Bay City in Matagorda County about 75 miles to the Southwest of Houston.
  • For the Houston area monitors, the maximum increases in daily peak ozone concentrations averaged over 8 hours and averaged across all days of the episode when ozone values were greater than 70 ppb, 65 ppb, and 60 ppb was 0.03 ppb, 0.04 ppb, and 0.04 ppb respectively.

The potential threat of additional pollution in the Houston area from the proposed White Stallion plant is cause for concern from Houston parents of children and Dr. Stuart L. Abramson. 

Dr. Abramson, a member of the Leadership Council for the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region and a Houston area, board-certified allergist/immunologist and asthma specialist warned of threats to public health from the proposed White Stallion coal plant saying —“There are already substantial health effects seen in sensitive individuals at current levels of ozone air pollution in the Greater Houston area.  When our Houston air quality intermittently exceeds the health-based standards, the pollution levels trigger yellow, orange, and red alert status.  The additional pollution from projected emissions from the White Stallion power plant, though proposed for 75 miles southwest of Houston, could only exacerbate ozone levels in the Greater Houston area and make it more difficult for sensitive individuals, particularly those with respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.”

Lydia Avila, Conservation Organizer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, “The last thing Houston needs is another source of pollution that’s going to put our community in even greater risk of health problems. It’s time for the City of Houston to take a real stand against the proposed White Stallion coal plant and be an even bigger advocate for clean energy.”

 Background Information – White Stallion Facing Obstacles

Although the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality gave White Stallion a permit, the permit was remanded after a legal challenge showed that White Stallion filed multiple and conflicting plot plans to different governmental agencies.

The proposed White Stallion coal plant faces obstacles and may not be built:

  1. Air permit remanded back to TCEQ
  2. 404 Permit from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  3. Waste Water Permit from TCEQ
  4. Water contract from LCRA
  5. Other economic obstacles

Posted by Donna Hoffman, Communications Coordinator, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.  Thanks Jared Pesseto, Sean, and Ben for inflating that humongous inhaler hand in front of Houston City Hall.

Check out the photo album on the Texas Sierra Club page on Facebook!

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Houston City Council Members Support White Stallion Fight.

White Stallion is a proposed coal fired power plant that would be located in Bay City. Residents of Houston are taking notice because they would experience the negative effects being the closest large city. Houston Mayor Annise Parker wrote a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers asking them to not grant White Stallion the necessary 404 permit until they perform a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). White Stallion claims that they don’t need to perform an EIS. It is very important for them to perform an EIS so we have all the facts and know how dumping out multiple harmful chemicals will effect the environment around the plant. 

There have been five members of the Houston City Council who have joined Mayor Parker by writing letters to the US Army Corps of Engineers asking that an Environmental Impact Statement be done. The following City Council Members have written these letters: Jolanda Jones (At Large 5), Ed Gonzalez of District H, James Rodriguez of District I, Stephen Costello (At Large 1), and Melissa Noriega (At Large 3). We would like to thank these City Counsel Members and urge you to do that same.

Ways That You Can Take Action

  • ·You can join Mayor Parker and the City Counsel members by writing a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers asking them not to grant the 404 Permit.
  • ·If you don’t see the name of your City Counsel Member ask them to join their colleagues by writing a letter the US Army Corps of Engineers against granting White Stallion a 404 Permit.
  • ·Sign up to volunteer for White Clouds NOT White Stallion because every volunteer can make a difference. Please email Kat Herrera at kat.m.herrera@gmail.com if you can help out.
– Sean Wicks, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern