Wednesday, June 13, 2007

TXU Receives Go Ahead for Lignite Power Plant

From the Burnt Orange Report, we have learned that the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) has overruled two arbitrators and granted permission for TXU to proceed with the Oak Grove power plant. It is the first plant to receive final approval under Governor Perry's previous "fast track" permitting process.

The Oak Grove plant was green-lighted for construction along with ten other coal-fired facilities, eight of which have now been withdrawn. In originally denying the permit for Oak Grove, the arbitrators had questioned whether TXU could reduce pollution as much as they claimed.

In a statement, TXU praised the decision.

“We welcome today’s TCEQ permit approval. Texas needs new sources of power and, with today’s ruling, the Oak Grove plant could begin providing power by late 2009.

The TCEQ has determined that the Oak Grove air permit will be protective of human health and the environment. This permit contains some of the cleanest emission standards ever set for a lignite power plant, and the plant will help meet Texas’ near-term need for power.”

Notice the "lignite" qualifier in that statement. What they don't tell you is that the Oak Grove facility is still the biggest and diritiest of the eleven originally proposed plants. It's actually two power generation units in one facility. While most of the electricity produced would be used in the DFW area, the city that would most directly feel the effects of its pollution is Austin. Even with all the guarantees from TXU about emissions reductions,

the Oak Grove plant would pollute more than other coal plants proposed for the area, according to the permit application. For example, it would emit 3.5 times the smog-forming nitrogen oxides and nearly 10 times the mercury as the proposed Sandy Creek plant in Riesel.

To put that in perspective, according to the SEED (Sustainable Energy and Economic Development) Coalition

If built, it would be the fourth worst plant in the nation for toxic mercury emissions and would produce the smog equivalent of 350,000 automobiles. TXU's four other lignite-burning plants are responsible for almost one-quarter of the industrial pollution in the state.

And that doesn't even touch on CO2 emissions. Coal-fired plants are among the world's biggest producers of greenhouse gases, and powering plants with lignite produces significantly more emissions than using hard coal, making it the worst of the worst.

At the hearing, several elected officials spoke against permitting. Among those testifying were Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and State Representative Lon Burnam.

Activists vow to continue their fight. They have already asked for a rehearing, a necessary step prior to taking further legal action.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mmmm... Mercury. Shiny... How could a substance so cool to look at be so dangerous?

What Texas truly needs is to upgrade its grid, and fully develop its wind resources. Burning mercury is not cool. It's polluted pollution.