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Proposed Power Plant Would Burden East Texas With More Pollution, Higher Energy Bills

May 27, 2008 

Proposed Power Plant Would Burden East Texas With More Pollution, Higher Energy Bills

Coal-Fired Plant Would Add 5 Million Tons of CO2 to Atmosphere Each Year

AUSTIN, Texas – A proposed coal-fired power plant for southwest Arkansas would have a major negative impact on east Texas, both in the tens of millions of dollars it would cost ratepayers each year to offset the plant’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and from the health risks of the increased mercury pollution.

Public Citizen, along with other environmental organizations, is asking the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) to deny a request from American Electric Power/SWEPCO (SWEPCO) for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for its proposed John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant. The PUC meets Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the proposed plant.

“The last thing Texas needs is pollution from another coal-fired power plant, when there is overwhelming scientific evidence that coal plants and the greenhouse gases they emit are destroying our planet,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “We should put our resources into energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.”

The Turk plant would emit at least 5 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. This is the greenhouse gas equivalent of adding approximately half a million cars onto the roads per year for each of the next 50 years, according to research by the Environmental Integrity Project. With Congress likely to enact a new “carbon tax,” Texas ratepayers could be on the hook for another $175 million a year, or more, in additional operating costs to offset the plant’s CO2 emissions.

Coal plants are the largest source of global warming emissions in the United States. In addition to CO2, coal plants emit sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury. The emissions from existing coal plants cause 23,600 premature deaths each year and trigger more than 554,000 cases of asthma. Additionally, mercury has been linked to brain damage and autism in babies. With more than 100 new coal plants proposed for the United States, these statistics are expected to rise.