In Ga Revised Air Permit Fails Again to Protect

This blog was written by Amelia Shenstone, former Regional Advocacy Director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | September 14, 2011 | Coal, Energy Policy

On August 18, SACE staff and more than 20 allies from around the state took the stand to stop Plant Washington, a new, dirty, coal-fired power plant proposed in Sandersville, GA – vastly outnumbering the plant’s supporters and delivering a strong message of concern about pollution to state regulators.

The state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) hosted the hearing to receive public comments on the newly revised air pollution permit for Plant Washington. An earlier version of the permit was rejected by a judge last fall for failing to set adequate pollution limits. The new version addressed some issues, but still failed to meet the EPA’s proposed limits for some pollutants – most notably, toxic mercury.

Georgia EPD, an agency charged with protecting Georgians from air pollution from coal plants and other sources, considered proposed new EPA standards in Plant Washington’s particulate matter pollution limit, but failed to extend the application to toxic mercury and hydrochloric acid emissions. It’s EPD’s job to adequately protect public health and ignoring the tighter standards just means more toxins, more health problems, and more cost to the EMCs down the road to ultimately comply with the law. EPD ought not be waiting on the federal government to protect Georgia citizens from pollution, it’s their job to do it now.

Only three people stood up to speak in favor of the coal plant, which is quite a difference with other coal plant developments around the region in years past. The vast majority of speakers were opposed. The opposition included two physicians who discussed the health impacts of coal pollution; one, Dr. Pamela Hall, is a lifelong Washington County resident whose ancestor completed the original survey map of the county – which she brought to display while she urged EPD to protect her community.

Plant Washington opponent Dr. Pamela Hall's roots in Washington county go back to the original geographic survey.
Plant Washington opponent Dr. Pamela Hall’s roots in Washington county go back to the original geographic survey.

The overwhelming opposition to Plant Washington demonstrated at the hearing is yet another indication that building more coal plants is the wrong direction for Georgia – we need clean, sustainable energy sources that don’t pollute our communities and we need to maximize all energy efficiency opportunities first.

You can read SACE’s public comment, delivered by Amelia Shenstone, here.

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