Judge halts Sandersville coal plant

Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 6:53 AM
Last updated 6:57 AM
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A Georgia judge gave an early Christmas present to Ogeechee Riverkeeper Chandra Brown.

Judge Ronit Walker rejected Georgia's air quality permit for Plant Washington, a proposed 850-mega-watt coal-fired power plant in Sandersville. The state permit for the Plant Washington violated federal Clean Air Act safeguards to limit harmful air pollution, she ruled in a decision released Thursday.

The Riverkeeper, one of four petitioners in the case, sees the ruling as a gift to the public.

"We are thrilled that the judge ruled in favor of protecting the people who would be forced to breathe the hazardous air pollution from this proposed dirty coal plant," Brown said. A consortium of six electric membership cooperatives based mainly in Atlanta and called Power4Georgians, is backing the plant. Not surprisingly, it viewed the ruling more as, well, a lump of coal.

Power4Georgians issued a statement that read in part: "These limits were the product of rigorous analyses by EPD. In the end, the Administrative Law Judge elected to elevate form over substance, in that she focused on the words that the EPD witnesses used to explain their analyses, rather than the low emission limits that their analyses produced."

John Suttles, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which litigated the case on behalf of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and three other environmental groups, said the judge's ruling made clear that Georgia has been applying the wrong standards in setting limits on the emissions of hazardous air pollutants. The plant has the potential to produce enough pollutants in this category per year to be categorized as a "major source." But instead of looking at what similar plants had actually achieved in reducing pollutants, the permit looked at what the other plants' permits allowed them to emit.

In some cases, Suttles, said, they perform much better than required. And once they do, the law requires others to achieve that level, too.

"The legal standard is based on the level of emission control achieved in practice by a similar source," Suttles said. "It's irrespective of cost."

Power4Georgians spokesman Dean Alford said Friday a decision had not been made on whether to appeal the ruling.

Brown has long argued that Plant Washington's air pollution will rain mercury into the already mercury-stressed Ogeechee River, on whose banks it will be located. Mercury wasn't one of the pollutants affected by the judge's ruling, at least not directly.

"They all interrelate," she said. "Some of the other metals allow for more mercury absorption in the body."

And the ruling means at least a delay for Power4Georgians, which Brown sees as a reprieve.

"People in the Ogeechee and Canoochee (basins) won't have to worry about breathing in more hazard air pollution," she said.

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robaroo
719
Points
robaroo 12/18/10 - 09:09 am
0
0
What to do, what to do? We

What to do, what to do? We need electric power. But .... Coal is very dirty. Natural gas is expensive and uses a limited resource. Nuclear is clean, but nobody wants wastes that last many thousands of years. Solar and wind aren't ready yet. Hydropower dams up free running rivers and isn't there during droughts.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 12/18/10 - 09:27 am
0
0
We live about 15 miles

We live about 15 miles downwind from this proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant. It would have put mercury into the air which causes birth defects. Pollutants like arsenic that are "scrubbed" from the smoke stack end up either in surface water or ground water. We and generations yet to be born are thankful for the judge's decision.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 12/18/10 - 09:38 am
0
0
Conservation is always the

Conservation is always the first measure that should be implemented. Increased efficiency is another measure to limit demand. IMO investing in sustainable, alternative forms of energy production will drive the economy. Wind is a huge energy resource. In Georgia that means high in the mountains and off shore. Ethanol from corn is not a sustainable practice IMO because of the nitrogen required, because of agricultural runoff from the application of large amounts of nitrogen to farmlands, and because corn is a staple human and animal food source. There are other promising forces of biodiesel such as algae. The cost of solar is coming down. Mass transit also saves on energy consumption. Americans have to be innovative, adopt appropriate technologies, and be open to a word they hate to hear - conservation.

ConcernedTaxpayer
28
Points
ConcernedTaxpayer 12/18/10 - 09:42 am
0
0
Poppycock! When there's not

Poppycock! When there's not enough power to supply your needs and wants, you'll be looking for someone to blame. Then you can blame yourselves, but of course you would never do that.

PWRSPD
0
Points
PWRSPD 12/18/10 - 10:14 am
0
0
Hopefully this stands. This

Hopefully this stands. This whole deal stinks to begin with. It's all about money, with one well known sandersville family selling them the land so they can then haul all the coal on their railroad.

Leave the Ogeechee alone. Thanks Ms. Brown

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 12/18/10 - 10:13 am
0
0
This is more of government

This is more of government garbage and environmental groups little lies they want us to believe. The really bad part of it is, some of you think and believe it's true. Are you still believing Al Gore and global warming? All of it is a big pile of you-know-what!

PWRSPD
0
Points
PWRSPD 12/18/10 - 10:19 am
0
0
The levels of mercury are

The levels of mercury are already high in the Ogeechee due to the coal plant outside of Macon. Coal is to dirty. The Ogeechee is to nice.

This has nothing to do with global warming.

workedforit
0
Points
workedforit 12/18/10 - 11:43 am
0
0
I myself wondered if that
Unpublished

I myself wondered if that Sandersville family mentioned had any interest in this. They are needing something to haul on the 10 miles of track since the kaolin business dropped off.
Hopefully the Ogeechee Riverkeeper will prevail, they get my donations and membership every year.

noils
5
Points
noils 12/18/10 - 12:10 pm
0
0
It's time for the Tea Party

It's time for the Tea Party to unite. This time against the evil clean air crowd and their socialist agency...the EPA. As a sign of unity I call on all teabaggers to sell their Columbia County homes and move to those South Augusta neighborhoods that circle the paper mills, fertilizer and chemical plants. Let us breathe the sweet smell of freedom and industry while the treehuggers choke on their so-called clean air.

KSL
126121
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KSL 12/18/10 - 07:29 pm
0
0
Just wondering where you are

Just wondering where you are going to get the electricity for all those electric cars that are so wanted by the environmentalists?

airbud7
1
Points
airbud7 12/18/10 - 07:35 pm
0
0
noils/ A lot of Columbia

noils/ A lot of Columbia County Folk's work 40hrs a week in the paper mills, fertilizer and chemical plants.

Docquesting
0
Points
Docquesting 12/20/10 - 03:03 pm
0
0
....

....

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 12/19/10 - 12:23 am
0
0
Does Olin have a Chlor-Alkali
Unpublished

Does Olin have a Chlor-Alkali plant in Sandersville too? That dang Mercury!

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