Groups File Legal Appeal of Longleaf Coal Plant

Controversy over Massive Proposed Coal Plant Continues

Media Release from Friends of the Chattahoochee, GreenLaw, and Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club

Today, the controversial Longleaf Energy Station proposal hit another obstacle as environmental organizations filed an appeal in Fulton County Superior Court identifying errors in the approval of an air quality permit for the plant. Although the Longleaf plant is the largest new source of air pollution Georgia has allowed for decades, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) classified it as a “minor source” of hazardous air pollutants, a decision that was later upheld by a state administrative law judge. The legal challenge was filed by Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee represented by the environmental public interest firm, GreenLaw.


For immediate release: November 2, 2011

Contact:
Bobby McLendon, Friends of the Chattahoochee, 229-308-6782
GreenLaw, 404-274-0179
Colleen Kiernan, Sierra Club, 404-992-9745

Groups File Legal Appeal of Longleaf Coal Plant Controversy over Massive Proposed Coal Plant Continues

ATLANTA – Today, the controversial Longleaf Energy Station proposal hit another obstacle as environmental organizations filed an appeal in Fulton County Superior Court identifying errors in the approval of an air quality permit for the plant. Although the Longleaf plant is the largest new source of air pollution Georgia has allowed for decades, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) classified it as a “minor source” of hazardous air pollutants, a decision that was later upheld by a state administrative law judge. The legal challenge was filed by Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee represented by the environmental public interest firm, GreenLaw.

Earlier this year, EPD issued a permit that would allow New Jersey-based LS Power to build the largest coal plant in the nation to be classified as a “minor” source of pollution, a strategy that would circumvent the stricter pollution controls required for a “major” source of pollution under the law. An administrative law judge agreed with EPD, but found other flaws in the permit forcing a remand back to the agency. The permit was reissued in August and, while revisions were made to the permit, the facility is still classified as a “minor” source of hazardous air pollutants. A Fulton County Superior Court judge will now decide the fate of the Longleaf permit.

The mercury and air toxics rule due to be finalized December 16th by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) observes no distinction between “major” and “minor” coal-fired utilities, holding them all to a common set of standards, including a mercury limit that is sharply lower than the limit in the Longleaf permit. However, the proposed rule has not become final, and, in fact, the Attorney General, over the objection of Georgia EPD,asked EPA to delay implementation of the rule. Once the rule becomes final, Longleaf would potentially have several years to comply.

“This is another step on our journey,” said Bobby McLendon, President of Friends of the Chattahoochee. “We need the pollution controls called for by the Clean Air Act in order to protect all our citizens, but especially our children, from being forced to breathe dirty air.” “Georgia has arbitrarily classified a massive plant as a minor rather than major source of air pollution,” stated GreenLaw Executive Director Justine Thompson. “We simply cannot stand by and allow the public to be put at risk from pollutants that are known to have serious human health risks.”

Longleaf is designed to be a 1200 megawatt (MW) plant that would emit millions of tons of pollutants each year in Early County along the Chattahoochee River. LS Power can sell the power to buyers anywhere in the U.S. without being subject to any regulation by Georgia’s Public Service Commission. LS Power has not announced that it has entered into any agreements for the purchase of power from this plant.

“Building new coal is a step in the wrong direction for Georgia, as there is no need for new generation and absolutely no need for the pollution that would come with it,” said Colleen Kiernan, Director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Georgia is taking significant first steps toward clean energy, which stimulates our economy and creates local jobs. Building a new coal plant now would be like investing in a typewriter rather than an iPad.”

A copy of the appeal can be found on the Longleaf section of GreenLaw's website.
 
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Friends of the Chattahoochee seek to protect the Chattahoochee River and the environment. A multi-state, non-profit organization that opposes any new industry that will adversely impact the Chattahoochee River watershed, it monitors existing industry to ensure that all environmental regulations and safeguards are being adhered to. www.friendsofthechattahoochee.org

GreenLaw is dedicated to preventing air and water pollution that endangers human health and degrades Georgia’s natural resources. GreenLaw achieves these goals by providing free high quality legal and technical assistance to environmental organizations and community groups throughout Georgia. www.greenlaw.org

The Sierra Club works to protect our communities and the planet. Inspired by nature to contribute and participate, our members and supporters number more than 1.3 million friends and neighbors. The Club is America's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization.
www.georgia.sierraclub.org