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Pancho the Donkey, White Stallion and Water: The community responds


The No Coal Coalition brings their mascot, Pancho the Donkey, to the TCEQ hearing, but he is turned away. Photo by Susan Dancer

On Thursday, the TCEQ (Texas Commission of Environmental Quality) held a public meeting for the White Stallion Energy Center at the Bay City Civic Center to hear feedback on the plant’s application for a wastewater permit.

Members of the TCEQ took questions and comments from the audience concerning the permit for the the 1,200-acre tract set to be the site of a 1,320-megawatt coal- and petcoke-fired power plant located on the east side of the Colorado River, about 10 miles south of Bay City.

Donna Harris holds her one-year-old grandson, George Ligums at the TCEQ public hearing in Bay City on October 28th Photo by Victoria Advocate

Donna Harris fears for her grandchildren’s future.  The fourth generation Matagorda County resident owns a ranch house and raises cattle five miles from where the proposed White Stallion Energy Center plant would be constructed.

“Having a coal plant nearby will harm my grandchildren, and this will not be good for the environment,” she said. “I just want my grandchildren to have a safe place … and be able to go outside and fish.”

TCEQ and White Stallion Energy Center also took questions from residents with water concerns which is the next  step for White Stallion to meet since the 1,320 megawatt electric power generating station will need lots of water to operate.

White Stallion has submitted an application for a water contract from the Lower Colorado River Authority; no action has been taken by the LCRA.

Environmental groups at the meeting such as No Coal Coalition, Sierra Club and Public Citizen were in opposition to the plant, with the No Coal Coalition taking the position that this coal plant is a threat to the county’s bays, river, farm industry, health and environment.  The Coalition believes that while this coal plant would bring some jobs to the area, they are more concerned that the negative impact would far outweighs the benefits of having this plant in the county.

The TCEQ has 60 days to issue a response to comments concerning the wastewater permit and 30 days to respond to people who will request a contested case hearing,  Overall, the issuing of the wastewater permit can take up to a year.