Thousands File Letters Opposing Proposed Polluter

Guest Blog | May 5, 2014 | Press Releases

Seven years later, Plant Washington Cannot Prove it will Meet Clean Air Standards

Seth Gunning, Sierra Club, (404) 434-9745, [email protected]
Ashten Bailey, GreenLaw, (404) 659-3122. [email protected]
Amelia Shenstone, SACE, (404) 373- 5832 x 3, [email protected]
Katherine Cumming, FACE, (478) 232-8010, [email protected]

ATLANTA, GA – More than 3,000 Georgians filed comments in opposition to a request to extend air quality permit deadlines for the proposed Plant Washington coal-burning power plant, to be located in Sandersville, Georgia. Environmental and public health advocates, members of the Georgians for Smart Energy coalition, have filed comments with state regulators showing that developers of the proposed project have not proven that pollution from the plant would stay within federal Clean Air Act safeguards, or avoid harmful impacts on Georgia’s air quality.

Power4Georgians, the developer behind the proposed plant, received final permits necessary to begin construction on the project nearly two years ago, yet has not broken ground and the project remains in limbo. Applicable laws require that developers commence construction within 18 months of receiving permits from state regulators. Power4Georgians filed a request for permit extension with the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in September of 2013. An EPD approved permit extension would allow the Company an additional 18 months to commence construction.

”Georgia regulators can’t grant an air permit that allows a coal plant to pump out illegal levels of pollution, and that’s what Plant Washington would do,” said Katherine Cumming with the Fall Line Alliance for Clean Environment. “Too many of Georgia’s kids and seniors suffer from bad air days that can trigger asthma attacks or make respiratory illnesses worse. As communities take steps to improve air quality, Plant Washington would set us back.”

Since 2010, more than 170 proposed coal burning power plants have been cancelled due to the rapidly falling price of clean energy alternatives like solar and wind energy. Over the past three years, Georgia Power has chosen to close nearly a third of its coal plant fleet, and is currently building out one of the largest and most affordable solar energy programs in the nation.

“Developers haven’t broken ground after nearly two years because power from this $3 billion coal plant will be more costly than cleaner, safer energy sources. Georgia is making huge strides with solar power and wind energy contracts and Plant Washington can’t compete,” said Seth Gunning with the Georgia Sierra Club.

“Despite its name, Power4Georgians continues to push a project that’s bad for Georgia’s air and its wallet. Even though every other conventional coal plant developer in the nation has dropped their plans, Power4Georgians continues to work against the best interests of Georgians,” said Amelia Shenstone with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) issued a draft permit extension for the Plant Washington project in early April which requires the developer to show that the Plant will not violate additional air quality standards. However, GA EPD has not specified the exact type of proof it will require from the developer.
“We hope that Georgia regulators will require Power4Georgians to prove that it will comply with the law using the most comprehensive tests available. The types of air pollution that Plant Washington will create are dangerous to our health and lives, and it’s important that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division require tests that will show the full impact of the Plant’s pollution,” said Ashten Bailey, attorney at GreenLaw.

The comment period for the proposed extension closed Friday, after which EPD will be set to make a final decision.