Case Builds Against Plant Washington in Georgia

ga_epdhearings_oct2009

Attendees at the GA EPD Public Hearing for Plant Washington Permits October 20th

As we begin to reflect on our 2009 coal challenge in Georgia, it is clear that the opposition to Plant Washington continues to grow and we are confident that in 2010 Power4Georgians, the consortium of EMC’s proposing this coal plant, will be fighting an uphill battle.  Over the course of 2009 we saw more and more Georgia citizens stand up against this risky coal plant proposal.  Just last month, over 300 citizens came out to EPD’s one and only permit hearing in Sandersville to say no to Plant Washington while many others attended statewide citizen hearings on October 6th to voice their concerns.

Meanwhile, frustration grows with Cobb EMC officials who are accused of a breach of fiduciary responsibility and mismanagement of member funds. Dwight Brown, the CEO, is one of Plant Washington’s biggest proponents and has clear connections to the corruption scandal. We remain seriously concerned about allegedly corrupt officials heading up the pursuit of a dirty coal plant.

stock_formal_meetingAnother encouraging development we’ve seen is that the EMC leadership investing in this coal plant proposal is gradually opening to the idea that building a new coal plant in Georgia may not be their best option to meet energy needs. During the spring of this year, four of the ten EMCs chose to pull out of the Plant Washington project, claiming that coal is too risky of an investment.

Some of the EMCs leaders still involved in Plant Washington, and some who are still would-be power purchasers, are beginning to work with experts and meeting with organizations like Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to find ways to bring in new energy efficiency programs and make the ones they have more successful.  Energy efficiency is the cheapest and easiest way for these EMCs to meet their energy demand without having to build a dirty, expensive, coal fired power plant such as Plant Washington, and it adds value to their overall supply mix. We are striving to make the case that we have the alternatives today and they do not need to move forward with Plant Washington.

A recent energy efficiency report by Georgia Tech stated: “The South has been one of the last regions in the country to embrace energy efficiency programs and to develop an energy-efficiency culture of consumer behavior… The full deployment of these nearly pollution-free [energy efficiency] opportunities could largely offset the growth in energy consumption forecast for the region over the next decade.”

gatech_ee_slideonmapNot only are the alternatives beginning to be seen as more economical, they are also seen as safer options. As we brought to light in a recent letter to the editor in the Savannah Morning News, there is no safe level of mercury that is acceptable to a person’s health, despite what Dean Alford might like you to think.  This coal plant would pump over 105 pounds of extra mercury out every year, which would end up in our waterways and the fish that we eat. We don’t think this is acceptable and hope you don’t either.

Power4Georgians continues to feed misinformation to the public about Plant Washington’s impact on Georgia’s air, water, and economy, but we are confident that the truth will prevail. The people of Georgia know that bringing coal to the state is the wrong decision and we need your voice to be a part of the call for change – please join our efforts, sign the petition, and be part of the solution!

It is only a matter of time before Plant Washington is no longer a threat to the health and welfare of Georgia! Learn the facts and make an educated decision about where Georgia’s energy future will best be found.

Here are a few quotes we wanted to share from concerned citizens and community leaders who spoke in Sandersville on October 20th at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division public hearing on the air, water, and waste permits for Plant Washington:

coversmoke“I’m not opposed to a power plant. I’m opposed to a coal plant. We have alternatives…Let’s put Georgians to work through sustainables and renewables… Coal has too many detrimental effects.”
— Rep. Dubose Porter, State Representative (D-Dublin) and gubernatorial candidate

“Coal plants are dinosaurs. Let’s move into the 21st Century. We must put a greater value on the quality of our air, water, our children and their future.”
— Larry Warthen, lifetime resident of Washington County who lives in Warthen, very close to Sandersville

“I oppose the construction of Plant Washington because I’m a Snapping Shoals customer [an EMC signed on to help finance Plant Washington] and in our current global, environmental, financial and regulatory situation, the business argument for construction does not hold up. …Plant Washington must not be built.”
— Albert “Ab” J. Roesel, Jr., retired high school math teacher in Conyers (Rockdale County)

“As a young person, when I picture the future of Georgia — my future — I see a revived and diversified economy based both on innovation and stewardship. I see Georgia as a national leader and a place where I can not only get a job, but also raise a family.”
— Maura Friedman, student at University of Georgia and a member of GA YES (Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions)

This blog post was written by Mary Carr mcarr[at]cleanenergy.org and Ulla Reeves ulla[at]cleanenergy.org.

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9 Comments

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Actually the opposition isn’t growing at all because it’s the same old people saying the same old tired, uninformed and misleading information about mountain top mining coal being used, about the plant having coal ash ponds, overall statewide increases of mercury levels, wells going dry, etc. The aforementioned is all completely false – per the state EPD, their comments at public meetings and permit filings. And about misinformation this site claims… Read the above again, as this is the pot calling the kettle black. Too bad they aren’t held to the same factual standards.

What this garbage also fails to mention is that dozens of supporters also attended the “public meetings” around the state. At those meetings, supporters almost equaled the number opposed. Again, more misleading and inaccurate reporting by the self-anointed “honest ones.”

The Ga. Tech study is a review of other studies throughout the southeast and was not formally endorsed by the University. Furthermore, it was NOT academically peer reviewed and was nothing more than a biased, one sided effort by the authors and probably ginned up by this very group. Hardly objective data.

I also like the picture of Hartmut Ramm, a known author of Marxist propaganda and books. He adds real credibility to your cause. NOT.


Comment by Local supporter on November 12, 2009 3:49 pm


The comment by “Local supporter” is incorrect regarding the growing opposition to the Washington County coal plant. Here are some of the comments from the public hearing.
http://www.georgiansforsmartenergy.org/uploads/georgiansforsmartenergyorg/Comments_-_EPD_Hearing_-_102009FINAL.pdf

The majority of the people who came to this meeting did not travel long distances to attend. These were mostly locals. Also of note is that one of these locals (from Dublin) was a Democratic contender for Governor. I was so encouraged by his stance that I made a $25 contribution to his campaign!

I monitor the newspapers (online) for news on this matter and am heartened to see many letters to the editor from local residents who oppose this coal plant.

On an unrelated note: Governor Perdue nominated a new EPD director. The DNR rubber stamped his choice. As such a lawyer with ties to this coal plant’s potential owners will be in charge of protecting our environment. Perdue took a page right out of the Bush playbook on how to keep large corporate donors happy.


Comment by dmac on November 13, 2009 6:49 am


For those questioning the safety (and even existence) of coal ash from coal plants, we invite you to re-review our earlier blogpost from this year featuring the massive TVA coal ash disaster in Kingston, TN and the federal inquiries into the toxic mess: http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2009/06/12/sen-boxer-public-should-be-notified-about-high-hazard-coal-ash-sites/

Also, for a brand new report from the Physicians for Social Responsibility called “Coal’s Assault on Human Health” please go to: http://www.psr.org/resources/coals-assault-on-human-health.html If you don’t believe us, maybe you’ll believe the doctors.


Comment by admin on November 13, 2009 10:30 am


You quote selectively from the GT study on energy efficiency — and consistently fail to note that the energy efficiency gains in that study are only estimated to meet demand until 2020. After that, guess what? We will need to build more power plants. Even Marilyn Brown, the report’s author, said in the AP story about the report: “We are not saying new plants are not needed…” See, I can quote selectively too.

Also, I’ve reviewed Dean Alfrod’s op-ed in the Savannah Morning News — the one you say contains misinformation — and did not see any misinformation in it. I saw facts — which I know you would rather not deal with. By calling into questions the integrity of the facts, it is YOU who are spreading misinformation.


Comment by Frank Talk on November 13, 2009 11:13 am


The FACT is there is a scientific consensus that the earth is currently experiencing global warming do to human green house gas contributions.

The FACT is coal fired power plants are the largest single source emitters of green house gas emissions.

The FACT is that the Southern United States, if counted as its own country, would be the 8th largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.

The FACT is: Our children’s future depends on our generation being bold, looking beyond quarterly profit margins, and acting now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by primarily investing in energy efficiency, and then into real, carbon reducing renewables, and lastly into biofuels and traditional production capacities.

Ya’ll messaging needs to change from: “look what these experts say we can do” to “look what these local folks need us to do, look at what the global community needs us to do, look at what our grandchildren need us to do”.

On a seperate issue, to say that mercury is not a bio-accumulant and that additional emission sources won’t increase current levels is an absurdity and a blatant disregard for even an 8th grade understanding of biology and chemistry.


Comment by Todd on November 13, 2009 11:27 am


Local supporter fails to understand that the “public meetings” were organized by plant opponents because the state refused to accommodate over 1,000 requests for multiple hearings. These additional meetings were open to the public and supporters were there, and treated with respect for their opinions.

In particular, the issue of wells going dry is of very real concern. The increased demand for water will serve as a real threat to local wells, as was demonstrated by a USGS geologist in a public presentation. For those who only have well water for their homes, we are rightly concerned about increase use a coal fired plant would require, and in fact would be irresponsible if we didn’t express those concerns.

As for Hart’s political views, asking that the co-op of which he is a member (and therefore a stock holder) abide by reasonable governing laws and rules so that its members may participate, is hardly Marxist in approach. In fact, it may be one of the best examples of capitalism, with the co-op members participating as responsible investors for the best outcome.


Comment by Katherine on November 13, 2009 12:09 pm


As one of the same “old” people referred to by “local supporter”, I do continually ask the same “old” questions because I have not been able to get satisfactory answers as to how I can safely live with a coal-fired power plant in my community. If I could get these answers, I might stop asking the questions. As to someone referring to an ash “pond”, please consider that for people not used to speaking in front of large groups, referring to an ash pile or ash pit as a “pond” might be an inadvertent error – although if they keep having to “wet” the ash to keep it from becoming airborne, it may well become a “pond”. (I really don’t understand how a pile or a pit is that much safer than a pond though.)
As to our being uninformed, I can honestly say that I have researched extensively the issues involved in the plant and have read the applications for the permits (every word) as well as the permits themselves – has “local supporter” done the same? The facts that cause me concern are the facts stated in the plant application.


Comment by Cathy on November 13, 2009 12:38 pm


I am reluctant to respond to “local supporter’s'” diatribe, because it is pointless to argue with someone who is so at home with bad-faith fallacies and falsehoods. I do so only to defeat his contemptible attempt to red-bait me and the anti-coal movement He claims that I am “a known author of Marxist propaganda and books.” In fact I have only one book, not “books”. It was my PhD thesis, written thirty-five years ago. It was a scholarly work in political philosophy, about Regis Debray, a young French Marxist philosopher and (later) prize-winning novelist. If that makes me a Marxist, then I am glad that I did not write a book about Adolf Hitler or Count Dracula. As for ” propaganda”, I think that describes “local supporter’s” screed nicely. Let’s take the falsehooods first: at the two Sandersville meetings that I was able to attend, opponents of the plant who presented comments outnumered supporters by a factor of between three or four to one. If our “local supporter” really is local, then he knows that it is not the case that “supporters almost equaled the number opposed” or that “the opposition isn’t growing at all” . The rest is pure ad hominen and appeal to false authority (his). Opposition presenters are simply dismissed as “uninformed” and “misleading” and the Georgia Tech study is a “ one sided effort by the authors and probably ginned up by this very group.” His complaint that the study, a review of 19 studies by state and federal agencies, is not “peer reviewed” and “formally endorsed by the University” is as absurd as if I were to dismiss his revered EPD permit documents because they are not peer reviewed and endorsed by the Governor’s office.


Comment by Hart on November 13, 2009 4:21 pm


I, too, was at the October 20 meeting in Sandersville and want to reinforce other writers who pointed out that opponents of the plant outnumbered supporters. Of the 65 citizens who gave formal testimony, 14 were for and 51 against.

The idea that this plant will be virtually pollution-free is palpably false. Whatever the sophistication of its technology, it would be a net polluter. It would emit more mercury, more sulfur dioxide, more carbon dioxide, more mercury, and more health-threatening particulate matter.

But the central point about Plant Washington is not a matter of relative numbers. There are two compelling points that argue against building this plant. No. 1, it is not needed. As the perfectly legitimate and sound GA Tech study concludes, growing electricity demand could be met by greater efficiency alone. Alternative energy sources like solar, wind, and even some forms of biomass would simply be a bonus.

No. 2, all the evidence points to Plant Washington being a huge, economically unfeasible white elephant. The four EMCs that withdrew reached that conclusion, and I have not seen single comment–much less comprehensive study–issued by any supporters that rebut that conclusion. All we get is rah, rah cheerleading by the likes of Dean Alford and others who have an economic stake in the plant. Earlier this year, Dynegy Corporation withdrew from building another coal plant in southwest Georgia on the same grounds of lack of economic viability. The CEO of Georgia Power publicly stated he did not want a permit to build a coal-fired power plant in Georgia.

What an overwhelming vote of no confidence by real energy experts, as opposed to the booster club who apparently believe that chanting will create jobs.


Comment by Tom Barksdale on November 19, 2009 2:26 pm


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