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Posts Tagged ‘sweetwater’

The proposed revisions to the state’s controversial (and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)illegal) flexible air permitting programs submitted in June in an effort to reach a compromise with the EPA, are scheduled for a formal vote at tomorrow’s hearing of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Under the proposed revisions, facilities with flexible permits would be subject to stricter record-keeping.  In addition, tighter caps would be placed on some emission points within affected facilities.

The EPA has ruled that Texas’ flexible permits do not comply with the U.S. Clean Air Act, and that ruling has touch off a political and legal war between the state and the federal agency. The state’s legal challenge to the EPA is pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The program, which has been in place since 1994 without the EPA’s formally approval, even with the proposed revisions to address the EPA’s concerns, still has provisions that the federal agency, during the public comment period, deemed “too broad.”

TENASKA Air Permit

Also on TCEQ’s agenda tomorrow is the air quality application for Tenaska Energy of Omaha’s 600-megawatt plant, Trailblazer Energy Center between Sweetwater and Abilene in Nolan County.

We expect the permit will be approved by the Commissioner, since it is a rubberstamp commission, however, the administrative law judges from the State Office of Administrative Hearings, which heard several days of testimony about Tenaska’s plans, recommended in October that TCEQ should require the plant to meet stricter limits on a range of harmful emissions that the facility would produce.

Under the ALJs’ recommendations, Trailblazer would have to demonstrate that the plant would have lower emissions for nitrogen oxide, or NOX, as measured by 24-hour and 30-day averages and lower volatile organic compound, or VOC, emissions as measured by 30-day and 12-month averages than currently projected.

The judges also asked that a special condition be imposed that would require VOC testing both when the carbon-capturing technology is being used at the plant and when the technology is being bypassed.

Goliad Uranium Mining

Also on this action packed agenda is Uranium Energy Corporation’s (UEC) proposed permit to drill for uranium in Goliad county.

An administrative law judge from the State Office of Administrative Hearings recommended in September that UEC be required to do additional testing on the fault area covered by the permit, which is about 13 miles north of the city of Goliad and nearly a mile east of the intersection of State Highway 183 and Farm-to-Market Road 1961.  If granted, the permit would allow uranium drilling in a 423.8-acre area, according to the docket.

The TCEQ hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. at the agency’s headquarters 12100 Park 35 Circle (near Interstate 35 and Yager Lane in North Austin).  If you want to watch the streaming video of this hearing, click here.  Video is also archived on this site, generally within 24 hours after a hearing and you can get to it from the same link above if you can’t watch it tomorrow while it is happening.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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The November/December edition of Public Citizen News, a bi-monthly newsletter distributed to Public Citizen members, featured this article on our statewide “Roll Beyond Coal” Tour.  Since not all of you out there get the newsletter, I thought I’d share:

‘Roll Beyond Coal’ Tours Texas

By Geena Wardaki

It’s not often that you lug a 20-foot-tall inflatable “coal plant” around Texas to protest dirty coal-fueled power plants.

But that’s exactly what Public Citizen and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club did in September.

The “coal plant” served as a powerful image that drove home the message to “clean up dirty power plants now,” which the groups delivered to Texas residents during the “Roll Beyond Coal” tour.

The groups visited Texas communities where proposed coal plants would be built and met with local grassroots and citizen organizations.

The two-week tour, which was part of Public Citizen’s Coal Block campaign, stopped in Waco, Dallas, Abilene, College Station, Corpus Christi, Bay City, Houston and Austin. Texas residents turned out in crowds of varying sizes to show their support and protest with the tour at each stop.

“The biggest cities actually had the smallest response,” said Ryan Rittenhouse, Coal Block campaign director for Public Citizen’s Texas office. “The largest turnouts were from grassroots movements where the issue is more local, smaller towns where proposed coal plants would be built and whose residents would be directly affected.”

Area demonstrators included members of T.P.O.W.E.R. (Texans Protecting Our Water Environment and Resources) from Waco, the No Coal Coalition from Bay City, the Multi-County Coalition from Sweetwater and the Clean Economy Coalition from Corpus Christi.

“Roll Beyond Coal” had two main objectives: one, to show support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent finding that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) rules for granting permits to new coal plants do not comply with the federal Clean Air Act; and two, to push the EPA to stop  the TCEQ from granting any permits for or allowing the operation of any new coal-powered plants and from issuing any new air pollution permits. TCEQ currently issues “flex permits,” which allow coal plants to sometimes exceed emissions as long as they don’t go over their total emission caps for the year. Eleven coal plants are proposed or under construction in Texas, more than any other state in the country.

The “Roll Beyond Coal” tour also educated people about federal climate change legislation making its way through Congress (H.R. 2454). Concern exists that new climate change legislation will grandfather proposed or newly built plants, allowing the plants to avoid the proposed emissions standards. (Senate climate change legislation also would enable new plants to be evade emission control standards for a decade.)

Public Citizen told residents to call and write Texas Sens. John Cornyn (R) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), and urge them to vote against the grandfathering of new coal plants in the climate change legislation. (Visit www.coalblock.org to see how you can e-mail these senators, too.)

“The ‘Roll Beyond Coal’ tour was an important and entertaining way to reach out to Texas residents and get them engaged and involved in blocking dirty coal power plants,” Rittenhouse said.

“Now, people need to let their lawmakers know that coal plants should not get special treatment in any climate change legislation.”

Geena Wardaki is a Public Citizen communications intern.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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I’m very impressed with this op-ed from Jim Boston, which refers to the Tenaska coal plant proposed near Sweetwater, Texas.  It was originally published Monday, December 13th in the Abilene Reporter News.

Why live in West Texas when it is somewhat a hostile environment? Faced with frequent droughts, sandstorms, hail, constant wind, tornadoes, rattlesnakes, scorpions, feral hogs, mesquite trees and house cat-snatching coyotes, why do our people insist on staying here? West Texas people after a while begin to resemble, in spirit perhaps, the somewhat undesirable native species. They are gnarled and bent from leaning toward the prevailing wind direction like mesquite trees, gritty (perhaps from the sandstorms), tenacious and tough, like feral hogs, and even deadly when protecting their home turf, like the rattlesnake.

Why do we live in West Texas? I guess it is because we like it. We like seeing if we can “hang in there” and survive all that Mother Nature can throw at us, and ultimately even prosper. We appreciate seeing the horizons and breathtaking sun risings and settings (you know the good Lord made a lot of country, and what he was ashamed of he put trees on). We enjoy observing the night sky with stars and constellations invisible in a lighted urban environment. Meeting our neighbors, or even local, unknown strangers, we gratefully acknowledge their presence with customary four finger salute in the windshield of our beloved pickups or SUVs, without our hand leaving the steering wheel. We shut down our towns to enjoy Friday night football, rooting for our home teams, yet exhibiting our stubborn independence with a politically incorrect prayer before game time. Traffic, or lack thereof, is another benefit we cherish, and hope it stays that way. The same feeling goes for the absence of a lot of heavy industry, usually located near urban areas. Finally, we appreciate our wide open spaces, and relative few people per square foot. We realize the people here are special, and we revere their sense of right and wrong, and generosity.

Considering all the good things we value in living in this area, why would we want to bring in something that might degrade the quality of our existence here. I’m speaking, of course, of the controversial Tenaska project. Why do we need it? Have we done enough to further the “green cause” by supporting the largest wind farm in the world to supply power to urban areas? If selling electricity to metropolitan areas is the goal, why not locate nearer to the sales point and closer to lakes that could supply the necessary water? The same goes for if the sequestering CO2 is the goal, why not locate nearer the oil patch?

Water, of course, is the big issue with Tenaska, (more…)

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Citizens aware of extreme drought conditions point to potential serious conflict over water if coal plant were built

(Abilene) – The Multi-County Coalition, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and individuals from the West Texas areas of Sweetwater and Abilene raised questions about how a proposed Tenaska coal plant would affect water availability and water quantity in the region.

Water Availability

The Tenaska coal plant project, still in the early permitting stages, would obligate between one million to ten million gallons of water per day for a cooling process.

“Particularly in West Texas, we are aware of how any period of drought puts great stress on our basic water resources,” said Professor Jeff Haseltine. “The city of Abilene is taking extraordinary steps to ensure a safe and reliable water supply far into the future, and it simply makes no sense to tie up massive amounts of water to cool a coal plant. We need to continue to find ways to use all of our water resources for the direct benefit of our own community, not for the profit of an out-of-state corporation.”

Next to municipalities, power plants – both coal and nuclear use the largest volumes of water in the state.

Water Quality

The groups at Thursday’s Abilene City Council hearing spoke about mercury that the proposed Tenaska coal plant would emit if built.

“The Tenaska plant would pump 124 pounds of mercury per year into the atmosphere and that mercury from Tenaska would fall onto the rivers, streams, and lakes in the region,” said Ryan Rittenhouse of Public Citizen. “West Texans do not want to stand by and allow that fate for their vital water resources and wildlife.”

According to chemist Neil Carman with Sierra Club, (more…)

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Green Jobs UnicornTexas is a sparkly mythical wonderland full of unicorns.  And by unicorns, I mean green jobs.  And by green jobs, I mean well-paying, long-term jobs ranging from maintenance to operations, project management, and high-tech engineering.

Wortham: Unicorns are alive, well and working the wind out west

Greg Wortham, Special Contributor

Monday, October 05, 2009

Texas Texas Comptroller Susan Combs was quoted recently in The Wall Street Journal as saying the wind power industry in Texas has created only 500 to 800 jobs and that finding a “green” job in Texas would like finding a unicorn.

“I don’t know where the new jobs are going to come from,” Combs said. “They’re not going to come from wind.” Well, apparently the unicorn is alive and well in Texas. I am the mayor of Sweetwater, the wind energy capital of the Americas and America’s energy solutions center. I guess my town would be as good a place as any to find “the mythical beast” that Combs says does not exist.

A detailed study of the economic impacts of wind energy in our single county was released at the Texas Capitol in summer 2008 that details that Nolan County hosts more wind energy jobs than the Lone Star State’s chief accountant says exist in the entire state. Interviews directly with more than 20 local wind energy companies demonstrated that we have well more than 1,000 wind energy jobs just here.

Even with a temporary reduction in 2009 construction (which is already beginning to gear back up), our community alone has more permanent wind energy jobs than the comptroller says exist in all of Texas. More than $4 billion of capital investment has been spent here since 2001, and the county tax base has increased 500 percent due substantially to wind energy capital investment, numbers that are reported to the comptroller.

And we are not an isolated “greenie” subculture. We are a proud Texas energy community, where 20 percent of the work force is in wind energy, 20 percent is in oil and gas, and 10 percent is in nuclear energy (www.ludlums.com). We are also scheduled for the world’s first commercial-scale carbon sequestration coal-fired power plant (www.tenaskatrailblazer.com). (more…)

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Check out the following letter to the editor from the Abilene Reporter News.  Turns out a local resident of Sweetwater recently had a revelation about the nature of coal and carbon sequestration.  Interesting theory…

Why are we digging up stuff God wants buried?

I believe that God has a purpose for coal, and it’s up to us to figure out what that purpose is. When I was posting to an Abilene Reporter-News thread on Monday, I believe he gave me the answer! God developed and implemented the Carbon Capture And Sequestration system on Earth! He captured the carbon dioxide, the mercury, the arsenic, the leadque and many of the other hazardous chemicals and bound them up in a matrix that we call coal! He bound up this matrix in such a way so that the materials he put into it would stay sequestered forever! He took that matrix and buried most of it, so it would be well below the life zone of Earth. Locked away forever.

He knew the planet would produce more carbon dioxide than the plants could ever recycle. He knew the mercury would contribute to autism in his children. He knew that arsenic caused death and that lead would cause nerve damage and learning disabilities. He knew if he buried it, it would make it more difficult for us to use it to screw up his creation! And here we are today, digging up what he has covered up, releasing the poisons he so lovingly protected us from, releasing them into death and destruction in his world! Releasing them into the life zones of his creation!

God invented the sequestration concept, why do we have to keep digging up his work and bringing the pollution back into our lives!

Jimmy Headstream

Sweetwater

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If you live in the Waco, Sweetwater, Corpus Christi, or Victoria area, you may have seen this op-ed run in your local newspaper under a variety of titles such as “Stop the Dirty Dozen”, “New generation of grandfathered polluters?”, and “Don’t create another generation of grandfathered power plants.” If not, you should give it a read.

smitty-mug2In the early 1970s, when it looked like the passage of the federal Clean Air Act was inevitable, power companies in Texas went on a building boom to construct 12 dirty, old-technology power plants before legislation went into effect. It was more than 30 years before the Texas Legislature addressed pollution from these “grandfathered” plants. Today, just as Congress and the Obama administration are poised to pass a series of tougher air pollution laws and cap global warming gasses, a dozen applications for additional coal fired power plants in Texas have been permitted or are pending. If built, this dirty dozen of coal plants would add an astounding 77 million tons a year of global warming gases to our already overheated air, 55,000 tons of acid rain forming gases, 29,000 tons of ozone forming chemicals and 3,800 lbs of brain damaging mercury. Your call to your state senator this week can help stop another generation of coal plants from being built.

Two years ago, 19 new coal plants were proposed for the state of Texas. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief when TXU withdrew applications for eight of those plants. But other companies are still building their proposed plants, and the cumulative impacts will make it harder to breathe in the DFW, Houston, Tyler- Longview, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Victoria and Corpus Christi areas. Seven of the plants have already been permitted, but five more are still in the permitting stages and can be more easily stopped.

Sen. Kip Averitt took a strong stand on this issue by adding a provision in his aggressive air qualtity bill, SB 16, to require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to look at the cumulative impacts of any proposed new plant along with any others that have already been permitted or are being proposed. This amendment would have gone a long way to protect our air and climate.

Unfortunately the electric companies out-lobbied him and took a red pen to that provision of the bill. What’s left is too little and too late. (more…)

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no-new-coal1Yesterday morning we held a press conference to highlight the importance of the proposed coal moratorium bill, SB 126, sponsored by State Sen. Rodney Ellis, and its companion bill in the house, HB 4384, sponsored by Rep. Allen Vaught.

SB 126 , which went into committee late Tuesday night, would put a temporary moratorium on authorizations for new coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester their carbon emissions.  If all of Texas’ 12 proposed coal plants were built, they would emit an additional 77 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Top climate scientists, most notably James Hansen, have advocated for a coal moratorium as one of the top priorities to address climate change.

This legislation would also give Texas time to take a breath, see what federal carbon legislation will come down from Washington, and re-evaluate our energy plan.  We expect carbon emissions to be given a price as a result of a federal climate change bill, and this would make the energy from coal considerably more expensive.

Floor Pass, the Texas Observer’s legislative blog, reports:

Environmentalists support these bills, but some feel they could be stronger. Both bills grant exceptions to facilities that capture and sequester some of the carbon dioxide they produce. Vaught’s bill mandates that a minimum of at least 60 percent of the carbon dioxide must be captured and sequestered in order for the exemption to apply. Ellis’ bill does not specify the amount.

“We definitely would support 100 percent reduction of carbon dioxide,” says Karen Hadden, director of Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition. “We should not be adding carbon dioxide to our air at this point in time. It’s too risky in terms of climate change. Companies can do it, and they should.”

Representatives from communities currently fighting coal plants were on hand to discuss how this legislation will protect their families from dangerous health effects such as asthma and increased autism rates and improve local air quality.  It was really moving to hear community members telling their own stories of how proposed coal plants would affect their lives.  If you’re interested in hearing their stories, check out the video feed from the press conference. Look for March 25, Press Conference: Senator Rodney Ellis.  That’s us!

The story got picked up in a couple other media outlets.  All the news that’s fit to link:

“Foes take power plant fight to Austin” by Denise Malan, Corpus Christi Caller Times

“Texas coal opponents call for a temporary moratorium on new plants” by Barbara Kessler, Green Right Now

And if you STILL WANT MORE, check out our press release after the jump.

(more…)

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