With little will in Congress for action, environmentalists are left to rely mainly on the Environmental Protection Agency to curb climate change. Having found that greenhouse gases (GHGs) endanger the public health and welfare, in January 2011 EPA will start employing GHG permitting requirements for large facilities that are already obtaining Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants such as mercury. Because coal-fired power plants are affected by this new EPA rule, Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is seeking a 2-year delay in its implementation. (more…)
On September 27, U.S. Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay ruled that a suit filed by the National Environmental Law Center on behalf of PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club can proceed because there was a legal error in her December dismissal. At issue is the claim that the Conemaugh Generating Plant in New Florence is polluting the Conemaugh river in violation of the Clean Water Act. The suit was initially filed in April 2007 against owners RRI Energy, alleging that the plant had been regularly dumping high levels of metals into the Conemaugh River in violation of the Clean Water Act.
PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club reiterated their contention that the plant “discharges more than 3 million gallons of wastewater per day containing selenium, manganese, aluminum, boron, and iron in concentrations that frequently exceed the limits that were set by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to protect water quality in the Conemaugh River.”
|September 21, 2010|
|10:00 am||to||9:00 pm|
A new study by Environmental Integrity Project/Earthjustice/Sierra Club shows that 39 additional coal-ash dump sites in 21 states that are contaminating drinking water or surface water with arsenic and other heavy metals. At every one of the coal ash dump sites equipped with groundwater monitoring wells, concentrations of heavy metals such as arsenic or lead exceed federal health-based standards for drinking water, with concentrations at Hatfield’s Ferry site in Greene County, PA, reaching as high as 341 times the federal standard for arsenic. The other Pennsylvania site listed in the study is the Bruce Mansfield (aka Little Blue) site in Beaver County. (more…)
The Homer City power plant in Indiana County is one of the dirtiest coal-fired plants in the country. It is No. 34 on the list of “America’s Biggest Polluters – Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants in 2007”. With emission of more than 13 million tons of CO2 in 2007, the Homer City plant is ranked second in Pennsylvania, after Bruce Mansfield plant in Beaver County. In the prevailing path of a lot of that CO2, New York state has had enough. On July 20, New York officials served notice to sue the current plant owners, a subsidiary of Edison International, and previous owners. The word is that Pennsylvania will join the suit, but there is no word yet from the state DEP.
In 2004, the Seward power plant was opened by then Reliant Energy at a cost of $800 million, with $400 million of that in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the Commonwealth. Now owned by RRI Energy, the plant sits on the Conemaugh River near New Florence in Indiana County. It uses about 3.5 million tons of low-grade “waste” coal a year from an estimated 100 million tons of waste coal available in a 50-mile radius.
On May 24, 2010, just over six years later, the Sierra Club joined with PennEnvironment and Defenders of Wildlife in a notice of intent to sue both US EPA and Pennsylvania’s DEP over the current owner’s violations of the Clean Water Act, the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Representing the three environmental groups are the Environmental Integrity Project, based in Washington, D.C. and the National Environmental Law Center in Boston.
Included on the EPA’s August 2009 list of thirty coal-ash ponds with High Hazard Potential Ratings was Little Blue Run Dam at the Bruce Mansfield power plant in Shippingport, Beaver County. Known as fly ash ponds and more formally as Coal Combustion Residue (CCRs) – Surface Impondments, coal-ash ponds came to the fore when a TVA coal ash pond dam broke in Kingston, Tennessee in December 2008. Local action has now stalled expansion of a coal-ash pond in Beaver County. (more…)
Last week we reported that Sen. Bob Casey had joined Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV) in urging EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to place a hold on the EPA’s regulation of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations. We also pointed out that Administrator Jackson had responded to Sen. Rockefeller. We are pleased to report that Jackson’s letter appears to have satisfied Sen. Casey, and we thank all who took time to contact our Senator.
Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the House where the fossil fuel industries are putting pressure on our local members of Congress to support several bills or resolutions aimed at weakening or gut the Clean Air Act. Our Representatives needs to hear from us.
ACTION: Please contact your Representative and encourage him or her to refrain from any weakening of the Clean Air Act, especially as applied to the control of greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
While wind power is getting lots of attention, both good and bad, and solar power is only just beginning to take off, little is said about the use of hydro-power on the rivers in western Pennsylvania.
Well, it turns out that near the Kinzua Dam up north on the Allegheny River is the Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station. This facility, relying on pumping water up to a holding pond above the river, has been in operation since 1970 with a rated capacity of 402 MW. To put that in perspective, the rating for the 40 turbines on the Allegheny Ridge wind farm totals 80 MW. And the largest of First Energy’s plants, Bruce Mansfield near Shippingport, has three units that total 2,460 MW of electricity. (more…)
Western Pennsylvania is blessed with a climate that provides a life-sustaining resource that needs to be protected – the abundance of drinkable water. Today that essential resource is being assaulted in a number of ways, including the expansion of Marcellus gas drilling, long wall mining, and the disposal of waste from coal-fired power-plants.
The state agency responsible for protecting our water quality is the Department of Environmental Protection. Unfortunately, at a time when more DEP staff is required to enforce the laws on the books, the state legislature has reduced funding for the DEP by $58 million (27%). Even before these budget cuts, the DEP’s task of maintaining water quality was overwhelming, as described in the next paragraph. And that task did not include the emerging problems associated with drilling for Marcellus shale gas, drilling which is not covered by the Clean Water Act!
An extensive investigation of violations of the Clean Water Act was reported by the New York Times in September, using data from the federal EPA. For Pennsylvania, the Times report listed 8,654 facilities permitted to discharge pollutants into state waters (the permitted levels of the pollutants are below levels that cause harm). Of these facilities, 430 facilities were listed as having violated the Clean Water Act at least once. Many of the offenders were water treatment plants. Topping the list was the Allegheny Ludlum facility in Brackenridge, with 449 violations. Second on the list was the Reliant Energy plant in New Florence (392), which coincidentally tops the list for coal-fired power plants around the nation.
(This is a long article, so there is plenty more below the jump!) (more…)
This certainly isn’t your old Bush EPA. On the same day that the Boxer-Kerry climate change bill was introduced in the Senate, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired plants and large industrial facilities.
This action, along with the G-20 commitment to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, places considerable pressure on the Senate to pass a strong climate change bill.
The Beech Hollow waste coal plant proposed in nearby Robinson Twp. was the subject of an Aug. 27 public meeting organized by the Mt. Lebanon Environmental Community Action Team. Over fifty local residents heard about the problems associated with this proposed plant and what can be done to stop it.
The Beech Hollow plant would emit 1,701,314 tons of global warming pollution every year, along with harmful levels of soot and smog pollution which can worsen asthma and cause other respiratory illnesses. In addition to health concerns, the Beech Hollow plant would prevent the development of clean renewable energy, like solar and wind, in Pennsylvania that could secure our energy future. (more…)
Most Pennsylvanians probably know already that eating fish from our streams is not a safe practice because of mercury contamination. And most environmentalists understand that a major source of the mercury, in the form of methylmercury, is the emission from coal-fired power plants. Now they can learn just how widespread the contamination of this neurotoxin is throughout nation’s watersheds.
|August 27, 2009|
|7:30 pm||to||9:00 pm|
The proposed Beech Hollow Coal Plant is a waste coal plant that would be built just over the Allegheny County line in Washington County, downwind from Mount Lebanon and other surrounding communities. Come find out how this proposed plant could affect your community and what we can do to stop it!
This public meeting is part of the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign, a campaign that has already helped to squash one hundred proposed new coal-fired plants – why invest in dirty new plants when we can invest in Clean Eenrgy?
WHEN: Thursday, August 27th, 7:00-9:00pm
WHERE: Mount Lebanon Public Library, 16 Castle Shannon Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15228-2252
QUESTIONS: Randy Francisco, randy dot francisco at sierraclub dot org
It will help if you RSVP Randy.
On July 9, the Sierra Club’s ‘Beyond Coal’ campaign celebrated an important milestone when the hundredth proposed coal-fired power plant was prevented from becoming a reality. More than 400 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution, a main cause of global warming, have been kept out of the air annually as a result of stopping these 100 plants.
The 100th plant was a 900-megawatt coal-fired generating unit at the Intermountain Power Plant near Delta, Utah. What caused the cancellation was Los Angeles’ decision to be a coal-free city by 2020.
In our region local citizens and Sierra Club activists predict that the Beech Hollow waste coal plant proposed for Robinson Township in Washington County will soon join the list. Sealing the Beech Hollow plant’s fate will be the DEP’s refusal to permit the re-mining of a huge pile of waste coal.
Just last month over 125 community members turned out to a public meeting organized by local volunteers to learn more about the Beech Hollow plant. The vast majority of the attendees were against the facility. The attendees left the meeting prepared to organize and educate their neighbors in their community and other nearby communities that will be affected by this dirty plant.