Sparkle, Sparkle, little coal plant…

Corpus Christi – October 7, 2008

The “Sparkling City by the Sea” has been losing its sparkle through the years, as more and more refineries pollute its air and water. Now a new threat looms to increase the pollution that is damaging and degrading what should be the glistening jewel of the Texas Gulf Coast.

A by-product of the refining industry is petroleum-coke (or pet-coke). It is the toxic-filled waste that is left over after the refining industry gets all it wants out of crude oil. The Las Brisas Energy Center is a proposed facility that will burn this waste in what is, basically, a coal plant on the shores of Nueces Bay.

I attended a public meeting held by the TCEQ on Tuesday that allowed for comments and questions to be asked of the TCEQ and representatives of Las Brisas. Many concerns were raised by concerned citizens and few, if any, of the questions were answered satisfactorily.

The main proponents of the facility seemed to be, as usual, those who were happy at the proposed jobs this facility would create. One of the points I brought up was how green jobs (jobs from energy efficiency programs and from renewable energy generation) would provide far more employment opportunities for the area: permanent jobs (as opposed to temporary construction jobs) which couldn’t be outsourced.

This plant will keep such energy efficiency measures and renewable energy projects from happening, since it is in competition with such measures to meet growing energy demand.

The Las Brisas representatives continue the same mindless ignorance of the problems such facilities pose to human and environmental health. Global warming comments were basically ignored, even though this plant will sit on a site that will probably be washed away once sea levels rise and a hurricane storm surge comes through the area.

But this facility will not be built. We are organizing local opponents to the plant and will be showing a screening of the film Fighting Goliath in the region in November to help organize around this issue.

Also, Las Brisas is not employing the Best Available Control Technology (or BACT) to control their pollution in all aspects of their permit.  We need to pressure the TCEQ to force them to comply with the basic pollution standards including, but not limited to, gasification.

If you live in the Corpus Christi region you should be gravely concerned at the prospect of this plant. Bring back the sparkle to your beautiful city by the sea and contest facilities like this one.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anyone else find it ironic that a super-polluting power plant would be called Las Brisas (Spanish for “the breezes”), especially in a city known for its wind and an area with one of the highest potentials for wind power in the United States?  Maybe they should call it “Los Carbon y Petróleo Excrementos”  or “El Contaminacion.” Just a thought….

Read more about the ongoing fight against coal plants like this one at CoalBlock.org.

~~Citizen Andy