Green Georgians Bring Legal Impediment to Coal Plants
A coalition of environmental groups filed five challenges in Georgia State Supreme Court, on Monday, hoping to delay or derail the development of two coal power plants in Early County.
The disputed developments are Longleaf Energy Plant, a project developed by LS Power for Early County, and Plant Washington, a medium-sized plant that would be built by an energy consortium in Sandersville, Georgia.
“Innovative, clean ways of producing energy are economically feasible and Georgia has energy efficiency measures to meet the economic growth that we expect,” according to Erin Glynn of the Sierra Club in Georgia. “Coal is a dirty, dangerous business. From the mine to the smokestack, coal-fired power is outdated, risky, and unnecessary.”
The motions were filed by GreenLaw and the Southern Environmental Law Center acting on behalf of Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
The petitions allege that state regulators failed to classify the proposed 1200 megawatt Longleaf Plant as a “major” source of air pollution, thereby enabling the coal power producer to operate under laxer standards than are appropriate for a plant of its proposed size. Additionally, they claim that Plant Washington, which would produce 850 MW of power, will discharge harmful air pollutants while posing a threat to water supplies for neighborhoods along the Oconee River sited downstream from the plant.
“Hazardous air pollutants from the plant will compromise the Ogeechee River basin,” Ogeechee Riverkeeper representative Chandra Brown said. “Our recent report, Protect Yourself and Your Family from Mercury Pollution, shows that additional mercury deposition from Plant Washington would prevent people who fish from safely eating the fish they catch.”
The developers counter that the coal plants are necessary to support a rapidly developing population in the region. They claim that Plant Washington alone, the smaller of the two plants would power over half a million homes within the next 5 to 6 years.
Additionally, the consortium supporting the project claim that the plants would help revitalize the region’s struggling job market by providing over 100 full time jobs once operations commence.
Dean Alford, president and CEO of Allied Energy Services, a development firm that’s part of the consortium believes that the environmentalists’ motions consist of empty rhetoric.
“They’re throwing a bunch of stuff on the wall and hoping that something sticks,” said Alford.
“We think it’s important to find a way to provide environmentally sensitive, reliable and affordable energy in the state,” Alford added. “Georgia’s going to have to build new energy solutions and we think clean coal is one of the best solutions.”