“Georgia regulators this month halted the last proposed coal plant in the United States.”

“”This represents the end of a bad idea,””


VICTORY!  FINALLY!  The seeds of the campaign to stop any new coal plants from being built and put into operation started here in Chicago back in the mid 90’s with the Sierra Club Northern Illinois Air Quality Campaign.  It was so successful (100% of our challenges were upheld thanks to our star campaign manager Emily Green) that when Bush II became President in 2001 and put Dick Chaney in charge of getting hundreds of new coal plants built our campaign pivoted by hiring a full time Campaign Manager, Bruce Nilles, to dig in our heals and find a way to stop this catastrophe.  The first plant in our sights was already permitted and site preparation had begun by Indeck in Elwood, IL. just south of Chicago.  I thought Bruce was nuts to think our “little” campaign could stop this plant.  But seven years later they threw in the towel and in the process we learned many ways to stop plants from being built.  Along the way, Verena Owen signed on as a volunteer to help lead the Club’s volunteer army and together with Bruce they got the job done attracting first $50 million from Mayor Blumberg and then many tens of millions more based on the success and effectiveness of our work.  Much gratitude and credit goes to many of you who contributed to the original campaign to help us get it off the ground and to so many others that made this happen not the least of which is the incredible Advancement Department of the Sierra Club lead by Mary Nemerov.  

The Club and our allies have also at the same time been working hard on closing all the existing coal plants and have succeeded so far in accomplishing that with over half now around 310.  And next will be gas plants as we endeavor to cut off funding for any fossil fuel projects and instead funnel these investment $$$s to clean, safe renewable energy.

The fight goes on but this is a major milestone that we all need to take a minute to celebrate and give thanks to the army of staff and volunteers from Sierra Club and many other allied organizations that helped make this a reality.  

Lastly, I hope that this email finds you and your loved ones safe and in good health and spirits.  And while we hunker down, as hard as it might be, we have to remember that there are other things going on besides the pandemic and we have to continue fighting hard for our vision and values.   



Regulators Kill Last Proposed U.S. Coal Plant

Georgia regulators this month halted the last proposed coal plant in the United States after denying project developers more time to start construction on the facility and not receiving a new appeal.

In a letter last month, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) said it would not grant more time to Power4Georgians — the group behind the proposed Plant Washington coal project — to begin construction, saying that approval to do so as granted in an original permit was “hereby deemed invalid.” The 850-megawatt plant was planned for Sandersville in the central part of the state.

The EPD gave Power4Georgians 30 days from its March 6 letter to appeal the permit revocation. Kevin Chambers, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources — which houses the EPD — said the appeal deadline has passed and no appeal has been filed.

Power4Georgians would need to file a request for a new permit if the group wanted to move forward with the project, the EPD said.

Dean Alford, a spokesman for Power4Georgians, could not be reached for comment.

The Sierra Club said the plant would have cost more than $2 billion to build.

Stephen Stetson, a senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said he does not expect there will be any effort to revive this project, adding that there’s “barely a market” for existing coal plants.

“This represents the end of a bad idea,” Stetson said.

After Sunflower Electric Power Corp. abandoned a proposed coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas in January, Stetson said that left the Plant Washington project as the only one listed with the federal government, pointing to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which tracks planned U.S. electric generating unit additions.

A 17-MW plant at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, is listed as having completed construction, although it is not in commercial operation, according to EIA’s list.

Katherine Cummings, a member of the Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment based in Georgia’s Washington County, said she was thankful for the EPD’s decision.

“It’s certainly a moment of closure and relief that this polluting giant will never be built,” Cummings said in a statement.

Michelle Bloodworth, president and CEO of America’s Power — formerly known as the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — said that although it appears the Washington County plant is not moving forward, her organization still supports “all efforts to maintain a diverse grid that includes coal, including improving the efficiency of the existing coal fleet, as well as the efforts to develop the next generation of the coal fleet.”

Separately, Longview Power LLC — a West Virginia-based coal plant operator — announced yesterday that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company cited “substantially lessened demand for electricity due to long term power-pricing pressure caused by cheap natural gas, an unseasonably warm winter, and the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic impact.”

Jeff Keffer, the company’s CEO, said Longview is not planning any staffing changes and expects to pay vendors “in the ordinary course” of the Chapter 11 process.

Twitter: @cjanchondo Email: canchondo@eenews.net

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