More Than 100 Citizens Protest Governor Perry’s Fast-Tracking of Coal Plant Permits

Aug. 25, 2006

More Than 100 Citizens Protest Governor Perry’s Fast-Tracking of Coal Plant Permits

Citizens Say Health Will Be Harmed and Cleaner Alternatives Are Being Ignored Due to Governor Perry’s Order Fast-Tracking Permits

AUSTIN – More than 100 citizens gathered in front of the Capitol today to protest Gov. Rick Perry’s order fast-tracking permits for 17 new coal plants in Texas and to express concerns about the health impacts from the plants. The protesters were joined by Chris Bell, the Democratic candidate for governor, and representatives from the Kinky Freidman and Carol Strayhorn campaigns. The protests came as Perry met with the governors of the border states. The governors of California, Arizona and New Mexico have all pledged to develop cleaner energy with far fewer global warming gases than conventional coal plants.

“These 17 proposed coal plants will threaten the  heath of more than half of all Texans. They would emit more smog-forming gases than 1 million cars, more global warming gases than 20 million cars, and over 4,000 pounds of brain-damaging mercury each year,” said Karen Hadden of the SEED Coalition. “Energy efficiency, renewable energy and combined heating and power are cleaner, cooler, cheaper and more rapidly deployed ways of meeting our states needs for energy, and put Texans to work, instead of shipping our money to Wyoming.”

“A cloud of hot and toxic air pollution is headed Austin’s way if the 17 new power plants that are being proposed for Texas are permitted. Why the big rush to permit these plants? The fast-tracking of these plants is due to a secret deal between Gov. Rick Perry and TXU last October,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “TXU and other companies are trying to get their power plants permitted before the state can develop a plan to assure the air is safe to breathe in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, before decisions are made by the courts on whether power companies should be required to look at far newer types of power plants that gasify the coal and can generate power with 60 percent to 90 percent less pollution, and before the plants are required to cap and reduce their global warming emissions.”

“Texas can meet its growing need for electricity without more coal plants. Despite population growthr, Austin has mitigated the need for a new coal plant for more than a decade because the city has invested in energy efficiency, pioneered green building programs and used high-tech, efficient lighting, air conditioning and appliances. Austin has also bought more wind power than any other community in the nation. The city has acted responsibly and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to keep our air clean,” said Brigid Shea, former City Council member. “That’s why it’s so unfair that TXU and other power companies are planning on trashing our air.”

“The recent recommendation to deny a permit for the Oak Grove shows why citizen groups facing power proposed plants should fight them –    they can make a big difference. We have often felt like a small voice in the wilderness. We are delighted that our claim that a thorough review of the facts would lead a reasonable person to agree with us has been validated. Citizens should not be forced to choose between economic development and a clean environment,” said Paul Rolke, president of Robertson County Our Land Our Lives. “However, the TCEQ commissioners can succumb to TXU’s enormous political weight and overturn the judges’ decision. [Learn more.] That why citizens have come together today, to ask for a moratorium on permitting these plants until the air pollution puzzle can be completed, and the state can fully analyze whether there are cleaner alternatives to building 17 dirty coal plants.”