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Impacts on sensitive area not considered in White Stallion coal plant permit.

Report shows Army Corps of Engineers Failed to Conduct Environmental Impact Statement

(Austin) – Today, the Sierra Club released a report prepared by Dr. Lauren Ross demonstrating that the US Army Corps of Engineers failed to consider key environmental impacts when it granted a wetlands permit to the proposed White Stallion Energy Center.  The report, Wetland, Bottomland and Colorado River Impacts from the Proposed White Stallion Energy Center, L.L.C. Coal-Fired Power Plant, identified mutliple environmental impacts that the White Stallion’s application ignored, and the Corps did not investigate.

The US Army Corps of Engineers permitting process is designed to protect wetlands, rivers and streams.  However, the White Stallion coal plant is proposed for a particularly sensitive area which was not appropriately accounted for.  “White Stallion’s application was drafted narrowly to address only direct construction impacts to a limited number of on-site wetlands and a stream segment.  It fails, for example, to examine the impact of this proposed project on the largest hardwood forested Bottomlands in Texas and possibly along the U.S. Gulf Coast.”  said Dr. Lauren Ross, author and environmental engineer with Glenrose Engineering. “The Corps and others must recognize that White Stallion has made no plans to deal with flooding or hurriance related impacts for the proposed project right on our Texas coast.”

In part, the report notes:

(1) The permit does not address the fact that flows to the hardwood forested Bottomlands would be disrupted.

(2) The permit does not provide mitigation for construction proposed along the bank of the Colorado River.

(3) The proposed power plant would discharge storm runoff and waste water affluent.  The storm run off would cross the ash disposal and coal storage sites, which would change the quality of the storm run off and the permit did not address the leaching of metals and potential damages to the Colorado River fish, crab, and shrimp nurseries.

Although White Stallion received a 404 wetlands permit, it still does not have (1) a final air permit, (2) a water contract, or (3) a wastewater permit.

White Stallion is currently seeking groundwater to run their plant through a local landowner. The Coastal Plains Groundwater District who is considering this permit has expressed concerns about what the ongoing drought and LCRA actions can have on their available water supply. “No action has been taken on the groundwater permit White Stallion is counting on.  Even if it was to be granted it would still be a very small fraction of what they need to operate; and would only be good for three years,” said Lydia Avila, organizing representative with the Sierra Club.

“White Stallion is no closer today to going to ground than it was when it began this process,” says Jen Powis, regional representative with the Beyond Coal campaign.  “White Stallion announced it was switching to an air cooled process that would use less water, but has failed to amend its TCEQ wastewater plans.  Likewise, a court remanded White Stallion’s air permit back to TCEQ because White Stallion kept changing its engineering drawings and location.  White Stallion’s sloppiness is an omen of things to come if this plant is permitted and constructed.” 

Texas has 19 coal-fired power plants, and also has the most proposed coal plants (7), of any state in the nation. Texas also leads the nation in pollution, ranking number one for the nation in mercury emissions, carbon dioxide emissions, and nitrigen dioxide emissions, among others.  Power plants are all major sources for these, and other toxic chemicals.

“How can the Corps issue this permit when East and West Matagorda Bay are the only pristine bays left throughout the glorious Texas coast,”  said Muriel Tipps, a land owner, realtor, and Seafood Representative for Matagorda County.   “It is shocking to locals that the powers of Texas and others continue to let White Stallion slide in this process; the Corps ignores the major impacts caused by the proposed dredging of the Colorado River, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality ignored the documented ozone impacts on the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria non-attainment district, and White Stallion continues to propose a project that would fundamentally ruin our fishing and agricultural heritage in this area.  White Stallion’s shoddy permitting process must be stopped.” 

CONTACT

Jen Powis, Sierra Club, Senior Regional Representative, 832.453.4404 or Lydia Avila, Sierra Club, Representative, 512.477.1729

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