Challenge to Coal-fired Power Plant Moves to Superior Court

Longleaf Coal-Fired Power Plant

Georgians Demand Cleaner Energy Solutions

View GreenLaw’s Superior Court Appeal (PDF)

Atlanta, GA (February 11, 2008) - Today environmental groups took the next steps to protect Georgians from the harmful air and global warming pollution that would be emitted by Dynegy’s proposed Longleaf coal-fired power plant. GreenLaw attorneys, representing the Friends of the Chattahoochee and the Sierra Club of Georgia, appealed a recent court decision affirming a permit Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) granted to Dynegy/Longleaf to build a coal-fired power plant in southwest Georgia.

"Georgia is falling far behind other states in tackling global warming pollution head on. We know that cleaner energy and good jobs can be developed here as they are around the country. Time will tell that coal is not a good investment.” said Justine Thompson, Executive Director of GreenLaw. “The clock is ticking on dirty coal plants."

The legal appeal comes on the heels of an announcement last week that three of Wall Street’s biggest investment banks are imposing new environmental standards that will make it harder for companies to get financing to build coal-fired power plants. J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup will require that utilities seeking financing for plants prove that the plants will be economically viable even under potential stringent federal caps on carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that they expect the U.S. government to regulate. For the first time, banks will be asking companies seeking financing for coal-fired power plants to report on their environmental compliance in areas such as energy efficiency options, their prospective greenhouse gas allowances anticipated from the federal government, and renewable energy options.

One week after the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH) judge affirmed EPD’s permit for Dynegy/Longleaf, ten cooperatives in the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) submitted an application for an air pollution permit to build a coal-fired plant in Sandersville.

“We desperately need new 21st century energy thinking and planning in Georgia if we are to remain healthy and prosperous. Coal plants do not fit that bill,” stated Thompson. The proposed plant will be in Washington County, 30 miles northeast of Milledgeville and 60 miles east of Macon.

In addition to the detrimental impact the proposed coal plant would have on air quality, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee have opposed the massive 1200-megawatt plant because of the nine million tons of new global warming pollution the plant would produce annually, equal to putting 1.3 million new cars on Georgia’s roads each year. EPD did not require any limits at all on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the plant.

“We have strong evidence that EPD’s permitting process was flawed,” said Patty Durand, State Director of the Sierra Club. For instance, undisputed air modeling shows that national air quality health standards for fine particulate matter, or soot, will be violated if the plant is built as proposed. “These tiny particles of soot lodge in the lungs and are one of the greatest human health hazards when pulverized coal is burned. Instead of building more dirty coal plants, we should be focusing on cleaner energy solutions, like increasing efficiency, that meet our energy needs without threatening our health,” continued Durand.

Bobby McLendon, a timber producer and member of Friends of the Chattahoochee who lives near the proposed Longleaf plant, noted that “the need for this plant has never been established. But more important, we know that the particulate matter from this plant will increase the number of asthma attacks and incidence of heart disease in Early County, as well as in Albany fifty miles east and in Columbus eighty miles to the north. Why are Georgia’s environmental protection officials content to swap dirty power for the healthy lives of people here in south Georgia?”

The groups filed the appeal in the Fulton County Superior Court. In addition to consideration of the 23 days of testimony and arguments produced during the OSAH hearing in this past fall, the parties will submit petitions covering a variety of issues such as carbon dioxide emissions and the PM 2.5 air quality modeling that the Administrative Court did not choose to hear. A hearing for oral arguments will likely be set within 90 days.

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. For news releases and legal documents, including the OSAH decision, public comments and case filings, visit www.green-law.org

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.

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. georgia.sierraclub.org