Governor urged to stop new coal plant

Governor urged to stop new coal plant

Environmental groups warn of new pollution if state permits coal-burning plant in Early County

To make their point, they stood along River Street with a large inflatable coal power plant with smokestacks bearing labels such as “acid rain” and “mercury poisoning.”

A few tourists gathered nearby as representatives from three Georgia-based environmental groups called on Gov. Sonny Perdue to stop the permitting of a new coal-burning power plant in southwest Georgia’s Early County.

The plant, proposed by a New Jersey-based power company, would annually emit more than 9 million tons of carbon dioxide, more than 240 pounds of mercury, 6,400 tons of sulfur dioxide and 3,700 tons of nitrogen dioxide, a major contributor to smog, said Jennette Gayer, an advocate for Environment Georgia.

Gayer, who’ll be taking the same message to Macon and Columbus this week, said the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has closed the public comment period and will likely issue a full permit in May.

That will allow Longleaf Energy Associates, a branch of LS Power in Princeton, N.J., to build the 1,200 megawatt plant it first proposed five years ago.

An e-mail request sent to LS Power seeking comment was not immediately returned on Monday.

Leah Edwards, development associate for the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, said she also has environmental justice concerns about where the plant will be located. While produced in Georgia, she said much of the plant’s electricity will be sold to communities in Alabama and Florida.

“Early County is the 11th most polluted county in our state (according to a toxic release inventory compiled by Georgia Pacific) and it’s more than 50 percent African American,” said Edwards. “They’re locating this in an impoverished community.”

Sara Barczak, the safe energy director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said last week’s finding by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global warming is already affecting the environment should serve as a wake up for Georgia residents.

“We need to pursue clean, safe energy technologies that reduce carbon emissions, not those that increase them,” Barczak said, adding that bioenergy, wind and solar solutions could lessen global warming pollutants and create new jobs in coastal Georgia.

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