Glenn and Carolyn Brinkman: “How can we afford to add a third unit, when the two that are there are killing us?”
For Immediate Release: December 11, 2006
Donna Hoffman, Sierra Club, 512-477-1729 or 512-299-5776 cell
Attorney Ilan Levin, Environmental Integrity Project, 512-619-7287
Rita Beving, Sierra Club, 214-373-3808
Glenn & Carolyn Brinkman, Anderson County ranch family,
Sierra Club Party in 6 TXU Coal Permit Battles
Know Better Than Coal – Its
Time for Clean Energy Solutions
(Austin, TX) – The Sierra Club has achieved party status in contested case hearings on six TXU permit applications to build and operate coal-fired power plants in Central and Northeast Texas.
“Texans from all walks of life showed up to oppose these permits because they know that TXU is proposing to use old-style, dirty coal technology. People don’t want thousands of tons of new acid rain and asthma-causing emissions, or toxic mercury, or any of a whole host of other dangerous pollutants dumped on their communities. The stakes are high,” said Attorney Ilan Levin with Environmental Integrity Project who represents the Sierra Club.
Broadening Opposition to Coal Plants
Sierra Club members at all six hearings participated in a broad-based and bi-partisan movement of individuals, city and county governments, and environmental groups citing personal and family health, quality of life, and business concerns as reasons for standing in opposition to the plants.
“We don’t need these coal plants.
There are safer, cleaner, and less costly energy solutions available. Our first priority should be taking advantage of energy efficiency measures that will decrease our energy demands,” said Rita Beving of Dallas. “It’s time to make the transition to clean energy solutions, such as wind and solar power, which will boost the Texas economy as well as protect the environment.”
Beving represented the Sierra Club at the hearing in Bonham, Fannin County, northeast of Dallas where over 40 people, some with the new community group Citizens Organized for Resources and the Environment, requested to become individual parties in the battle over the permit sought by TXU for its Valley plant.
Residents and business owners near the new coal plants and individuals with respiratory problems who had moved from large cities to escape air pollution problems spoke of needing to relocate or risk their health or even their lives if the plants were built.
Real estate developers were concerned they would not be able to sell their properties because of the pollution that would be emitted by the proposed plants. Ranchers and farmers were concerned about damage to livestock and crops.
“As a rancher, you’re concerned with costs.
Because of the acid from these coal plant emissions,
I already have to buy and add lime to my soil so the
bermuda grass will grow to feed my cattle,” said Glenn Brinkman.
Brinkman, who lives and works with heart disease, cited health concerns as his other key reason for getting standing in the fight against the TXU application for a new coal-fired unit at its Big Brown plant.
His objection to coal plant pollution reflects a growing concern among people
living in rural areas with existing coal plants.
“How can we afford to add a third unit, when the two that are there are killing us?” said Brinkman.
Brinkman’s wife Carolyn, already a Sierra Club member, also joined East Texas Environmental Concerns Organization based in Athens, one of several local groups springing up around the state to combat the coal plant permit applications.
In McLennan County, where four coal-burners are planned where there are currently no coal plants, the County, the City of Waco, the City of Hallsberg, and, in a surprise move, the Waco Chamber of Commerce rejected a typical pattern of local government and business support for coal by requesting standing in the TXU Lake Creek and Tradinghouse plant hearings.
The Chamber of Commerce argued that there is no pollution monitor to analyze Waco-area air quality and that TXU has provided no modeling to determine whether or not the permits’ allowable emissions would place the region in violation
of federal air quality standards for human health.
County Judge Jim Lewis (Republican) who requested standing on behalf of McLennan County residents and Texas State Representative Doc Anderson (Republican) who requested standing on behalf of his 140,000 constituents, were denied standing based on having other official venues for recourse. Both gentlemen, however, did receive standing as individuals who would be uniquely impacted as they both live very near TXU’s proposed Lake Creek plant.
Consideration of the McLennan County and City of Waco bids for standing was postponed to an additional preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday, December 14 in Austin.
At this hearing, the State Office of Administrative Hearings will also consider the request of a coalition of cities spearheaded by Dallas Mayor Laura Miller.
The cities coalition has asked for standing to participate in each of the upcoming permit battles.
Careful Consideration of TXU Permits
Compromised by Governor’s Fast-Tracking
Included in the issues to be addressed on Thursday, December 14 is whether the Governor’s Executive Order applies to the TXU cases.
Sierra Club has already filed a motion with objecting to the fast-tracking of these cases, a result of Governor Perry’s Executive Order expediting the permitting process.
Preliminary hearings have already had to be scheduled on the same days and some local residents who would be affected by emissions from more than one plant could not attend hearings scheduled at the same time.
Fast-tracking has also resulted in an unusually tight six-month timeline for deliberations that would usually require at least a year and a half.
“It is clear that all the parties involved, including the State Office of Administrative Hearings are struggling with how to fairly conduct not just one case, but six of them, in the short time frame set by the Governor.
Each one of these power plants is a major air pollution source that, if built, will be with us for generations to come,” said Attorney for the Sierra Club, Ilan Levin.
“We want a fair process and right now we’re
not getting that.”