Spotlight on Robertson County
Pollution in our air and toxic mercury in our water, so TXU can sell power in Dallas?
The Texas Farm Bureau opposes permitting any coal plant that is not at least as clean as a state-of-the-art gas-fired plant. We agree.
Write a letter to state officials to press for cleaner plants.
Texas Utilities (TXU) proposes building a lignite-fired coal plant called Oak Grove near Bremond and Franklin in Robertson County. 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. Now they want to put another dirty lignite burning plant in our backyard. With two units, it would be huge and emit twice as much harmful pollution as any Texas plant proposed or permitted this decade.
While local citizens would breathe the pollution, the electricity produced would mostly go to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Our Land Our Lives is contesting the permit due to health concerns and the fact that this permit is not protective of our community or those downwind. We are awaiting a decision from the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
Won't the wastes leach into our waterways?
Texas has very weak rules for the toxic-laden ash produced by the burning of coal. Some of it goes into products such as cement and sheetrock, but typically some of the ash is dumped in unlined coal pits or simply piled up on company land. Heavy metals such as mercury can leach into nearby creeks and rivers, which leads to contaminated waterways and fish that are unsafe to eat. Texas has twelve mercury fish consumption advisories now. Mercury exposure can lead to permanent brain damage in children, and increased risks for cardiac patients.
What about the promise of jobs? Why won’t TXU propose a cleaner plant?
A cleaner plant will employ as many people as a dirty one. TXU should change their plans and propose a cleaner plant, using gasification (IGCC), the best available control technology. While it costs slightly more in the short term, it would emit significantly less pollution and it would be more cost-effective when carbon pollution is regulated.
TXU refuses to use this cleaner technology, claiming it is unproven with lignite. IGCC has been used since WWII, is used in existing plants including a lignite plant, and is proposed for use in 24 plants now in the permitting process including one just proposed in Louisiana that would use lignite. Why is TXU proposing to use the dirtiest technology that will poison our air, land and water?
Won’t the EPA and the State protect our health?
The EPA is not directly involved in the permitting process and the State has ignored their recommendation that TXU consider gasification. Commissioner Larry Soward, appointed to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) by Governor Perry, recently made the following admission about the air permitting process. "We have little or no authority to request, much less require, cleaner technology." According to the Waco Tribune-Herald he said, "The agency needs the Legislature to authorize it to require power companies to consider cutting-edge pollution control technologies, including coal gasification." He questions whether TCEQ is meeting the requirements of the Clean Air Act in setting permitting standards. We believe TCEQ can and should demand those changes now in order to protect our health.
In a July 11th article, The Dallas Business Journal reports that "Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Houston Mayor Bill White have teamed up to urge mayors of other big cities to fight dirty technology proposed for 17 new coal-fired power plants in the state."
Solutions Exist! Take action now…Speak out for our land and our lives!
Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are the cleanest energy options. If a coal plant must be built, the minimum standard should be gasification (IGCC) in order to protect our health.
For information on the next meeting of the local group Our Land Our Lives and other additional information, click here.
Next local activity: Knock on doors this Saturday July 29 and educate others in the community about what they can do. Meet at 10 am at the Brookshire Brothers parking lots in Hearne (400 West 2nd). We will start with a short training session. We will knock on doors for 4 hours, but you can leave early. Contact Paul Rolke for details or to RSVP: (979) 828-1743.
Next local meeting: Saturday August 12 at 10 am at Ama's Restaurant on Highway 79 in Franklin. Meet other concerned neighbors and watch an award-winning documentary "Kilowatt Ours."
For information about writing a letter to the editor to newspapers serving Robertson and Falls County, click here.
For information on how to contact state and local officials, click here.
If you want some facts about the proposed plants or coal plants, use these websites: