For Immediate Release (Friday, November 18, 2005):
Contact: Neil Carman, 512-477-1729
Donna Hoffman, 512-477-1729 or 512-299-5776; Paul Rolke, 979-828-1743
Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club consists of over 25,000 members.
The Chapter spans the entire state of Texas, excepting El Paso, which
is part of the Rio Grande Chapter.
Located in Austin, the Lone Star Chapter's State Conservation Office
serves Sierrans as their grassroots communications center. We also provide
Sierrans with a full time professional activist staff employed to represent
Sierrans as we fight at the state level to protect and conserve Texas'
diverse and valuable natural heritage.
Citizens Concerned about Coal-fired Power Plants
Citizens raise significant concerns at TCEQ meeting in Central Texas about largest of newly proposed Coal-fired Power Plants
Franklin, Texas -- Citizens in Robertson County raised significant concerns at a public meeting held by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
(TCEQ) on Tuesday to announce plans by the energy company TXU to build in their county the largest of seven, newly proposed coal-fired power plants in the state.
"I can see the proposed plant's structure from my back pasture and I worry about the health effects from the pollution, especially the sulfur dioxide, the small particles, and the mercury." said Robertson County landowner Paul Rolke who spoke at the meeting.
"When I am long dead, I would like future generations of Rolkes to be able to eat fish out of the stock tank in that back pasture without risk of mercury poisoning." He added, "If the purpose of the state permitting such plants is to protect the public's health, then it seems to me that, before they ask for the public's input, they should make readily available to all the citizens of Robertson County a compilation of the very best science that would indicate the health effects of exposure to the expected emissions from this plant."
"TXU has earned a notoriety among industrial plants in Texas," said Neil Carman Clean Air Program Director with the Lone Star Sierra Club. "Based on TCEQ annual emissions inventory data for 2003, TXU operates the top three coal (lignite) polluters in Texas emitting in that year about 440,000 tons of pollutants into the air."
TXU now wants to add 41,400 tons more pollutants at the proposed Oak Grove double unit, a plant design that does not incorporate the Best Available Control Technology.
This plant would have an enormous impact on Central and North Texas air quality. Its smog-forming nitrogen oxides, acid rain-forming sulfur and nitrogen compounds, particulate matter, mercury, and other toxic chemicals would seriously endanger the health of people, animals, and plant life in the region.
Emissions from TXU's Oak Grove would also threaten Dallas-Fort Worth's capacity to meet its State Implementation Plan for improving air quality in that region and would place its federal highway funding at risk.
Proposed for location outside Franklin about forty miles north of Bryan-College Station, TXU's Oak Grove plans include two, massive boiler units making it over double in size to the other new plants that are part of the Bush Administration's highly problematic "Coal Rush" energy plan.
Governor Perry joined that rush to pollute in late October when he issued an order to expedite the permitting process for new power generation
While some public officials may welcome the plant with economic aspirations in mind, Robertson County neighbors are concerned about their future respiration, well-being, and quality of life.
"In Texas we have a long tradition of non-interference," said Paul Rolke.
"If you own your land and pay your taxes, you can do pretty much what ever you want to on your land, so long as no one is getting hurt."
"TXU owns their land and they own the rights to the coal they will burn. What they do not own is the air that passes over their land."
"They are going to put stuff in that air that will fall on my land. What falls may be too small for me to see, but it will have effects. I need to know a lot more about what those effects are before I would consider supporting this plant."
"The next child born in Robertson Co., if they stay here, will be thirty in 2035. She will have breathed harmful pollution her whole life, and will be looking at her children, who will be breathing pollution at levels established by this permit - no matter what the state of the art pollution control is at that time," said Rolke.
"Given this, it seems incumbent upon TXU to go the extra mile to make the plant as clean as current technology allows."
Paul Rolke biographical data: 51 year-old, native Houstonian; family moved to Robertson County in 1972; President of Rolke Enterprises LLC with interests in ranching, oil and gas, and real estate.