Posts Tagged ‘environmental impact statement’

Today, the the Department of State released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the new Presidential Permit application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The SEIS acknowledges that the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would create “numerous” and “substantial” impacts on the environment, but they are claiming that the project is a better than any of the alternatives, essentially clearing the project to go ahead.

The report concluded that the tarsands diluted bitumen (dilbit) that the pipeline will transport into and across the U.S. produces 17 percent more greenhouse gases than heavy crude oil refined on the Texas Gulf Coast. In addition, it said the construction phase of the project would result in carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to about 626,000 passenger vehicles operating for a full year.

The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, once published by the EPA, starts the clock on the public comment period.  At this time, we expect the SEIS to be published sometime next week.  Our best guess is Wednesday.  From that point, the public will have 45 days to comment on the document, so let’s dust off our legal pads and pens and start drafting our comments.  Having spent three days on a bus and marching around the mall in Washington DC in freezing weather with many of you, I know you have a lot to say.

Comments can be addressed to the following mailbox: [email protected]

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This is a reprint of an article that ran in the Houston Chronicle submitted by Air Alliance Houston, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the No Coal Coalition, Public Citizen and Greenpeace.

Here’s the situation: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has “go” or “no-go” decision- making power on a project that could greatly impact all Houston area residents and future generations.

Here’s the ask: In addition to denying a permit for the proposed White Stallion coal plant, USACE Chief Fred Anthamatten and Galveston District Commander Col. Christopher Sallese are urgently encouraged to call for an Environmental Impact Statement that would lend transparency to a currently deficient process. Likewise, the Corps should also be receiving similar requests for this Environmental Impact Statement from Houston Mayor Annise Parker, City Council members and other concerned citizens as decisions made today could have a profound impact on lives tomorrow. We urge our local elected officials to write Anthamatten and Sallese requesting such a study.

For those not familiar with the situation, if White Stallion gets approved, it could dramatically increase smog levels in the Houston-Galveston-Beaumont region, which is already in “nonattainment” of federal ozone standards.

In 2008, White Stallion owners filed for an air pollution permit that ultimately attracted opposition from Matagorda County local citizens, county officials and clean air advocates. Even the administrative law judges reviewing the application found flaws and recommended permit denial. Ignoring the recommendations, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) gave its approval late last year, spurring our local Houston-Galveston Area Council to write a letter asking for assurances that the proposed plant wouldn’t affect our region.

As if that wasn’t enough, new facts have come to light calling previous points into question. Six days after TCEQ gave its approval, White Stallion filed a new and different site plan for the same power plant in support of its permit application to the Corps. This new site plan changes the location of 73 of the 84 pollutant emissions points used in the air dispersion modeling upon which the final TCEQ order was based.

The plant predicts emissions of 10 million tons of carbon dioxide, 4,955 tons of sulfur dioxide, 4,047 tons of nitrogen oxide, 1,792 tons of particulate matter and 96 pounds of mercury every single year. But now no one — not the state, not the Corps and certainly not the residents – knows specifically where that pollution would be coming from.

With this latest development, Matagorda County and Houston-Galveston-Beaumont residents and industries are entitled to new hearings on the matter as well as an Environmental Impact Statement. These changes should require White Stallion to demonstrate that its proposed plant will not undo years of efforts by local industry and residents to clean up our air. Indeed, these changes should require White Stallion to go back to square one.

Think about it. The Matagorda County-based plant may not be in our backyards, but it’s awfully close – just 20 miles outside our nonattainment area. That’s close enough to undo years of efforts to clean up Houston air. Why not, at the very least, require White Stallion to do its homework?

This is a critical opportunity for Anthamatten and Sallese to do the right thing and show citizens that our federal processes are open and transparent.

They have it within their power to call for an Environmental Impact Statement examining what these changes mean for the Houston area, and we respectfully implore them to do so.

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simpson-nuke This week citizens submitted two separate filings to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) opposing Luminant (formerly TXU)’s proposed Comanche Peak nuclear reactors. Petitioners include state Rep. Lon Burnam, the SEED Coalition, Public Citizen and the Ft. Worth based True Cost of Nukes.

In the past, NRC has made  companies jump through two major hoops before their operating license is granted.  First, the company must complete the reactor design certification process which ensures that the design for the plant is safe.  If a company decides to choose a pre-certified design that has been built before and the NRC has vetted, they may get their operating license faster because they can skip dealing with design issues.  After their design is approved, the company can then file for their license to operate in a separate process.  This is when citizens have the opportunity to analyze such documents as the Environmental Impact Statement and file contentions.

But for this new fleet of nuclear plants being licensed, the NRC has streamlined this process, combining both the design certification and licensing process into one.  This is a major problem for reactors such as those proposed at Comanche Peak because they are submitting a design that has never been built before anywhere in the world.  It hardly makes sense that NRC can approve a plant to operate when they don’t even know if the plant design is feasible or safe, but that is exactly what is happening.  This is kind of like getting in car and driving off to the drugstore when you’re not sure where it is and… oops, might not even know how to drive.


Eye,  “The

Rep. Lon Burnam has compared what the NRC is doing to making those living near Comanche Peak “guinea pigs in a radioactive experiment.”  Other nuclear plants that have 
gone forth with construction before their design was finalized and approved by regulators have seen serious complications.

In addition to the madness of the NRC’s licensing process, there were even further contentions filed concerning defects in Comanche Peak’s license application.  These contentions include:

  • inadequate fire protection
  • no viable radioactive waste disposal plan
  • inability to secure against airplane attacks
  • financial, health and safety risks
  • vast water consumption
  • failure to address safe, clean energy alternatives

The next step in this process is for the NRC to respond to citizen’s petitions and contentions.

For further information on contentions filed, check out SEED Coalition’s press release after the jump. (more…)

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