For Immediate Release (Wednesday, December 19, 2012):
For More Information:
Jenna Garland, (404) 607-1262 x 222 firstname.lastname@example.org
End of the Road?
Las Brisas Proposal Faces Another in a Series of Serious Setbacks
AUSTIN, TX -- In a letter to developers of the Las Brisas power plant, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified dozens of flaws and gaps in the plant’s application for a federal Clean Air Act greenhouse gas permit (1).
Las Brisas will need to provide an extensive amount of additional information before the EPA could issue an air permit to developers; such permits are required to begin construction. In the letter, the EPA asked whether a redesign of the proposed facility will need to take place in order to comply with a recent ruling from a state district judge. This action shows that Las Brisas project developers will need to complete significant work before the proposal can move forward, suggesting that the plant proposal is in a poor position entering 2013.
The Las Brisas plant is proposed to be built along the Port of Corpus Christi, near a low-income neighborhood already impacted by adjacent refineries, chemical plants, and a major interstate freeway. The plant was granted permits by Governor Rick Perry's commissioners on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), despite rulings on two occasions by state administrative law courts that the permits should not be issued because of serious flaws in the state process (2).
The plant’s boilers would be fired with pet coke, a black coal-like powder filled with heavy metals and sulfur, all dangerous to human health. The TCEQ permits would allow the new plant to emit thousands of pounds per year of pollutants like sulfuric acid mist and nitrogen oxides without installing advanced pollution reduction technology, such as SCR catalysts, that are standard equipment for new large power plants in other states.
In July 2012, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Sierra Club, and the Clean Economy Coalition won a huge victory in state court when a judge ruled that the state permits did not demonstrate protection from soot and sulfur pollution, and ordered the state permits back to TCEQ for revisions and new modeling (3).
"Despite being given the initial go-ahead by TCEQ, our four year fight against Las Brisas scored a huge victory in July when a state judge sent the air permit back to TCEQ for additional work," said Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "And now, we see an EPA determination that the application for the federal air permit is seriously lacking and has numerous flaws. With both permits now in jeopardy, it's time for the Las Brisas developers to realize they have lost and for them to give the people who live near the port the comfort of knowing this massive additional source of toxic air pollution will never be built."
(1) Letter from Carl E. Edlund, P.E., to David S. Freysinger, EPA Request for Additional Information and Clarification Las Brisas GHG PSD Permit Application, November 26, 2012. http://texas.sierraclub.org/press/newsreleases/20121126LasBrisasLtrFinal.pdf
(2) “A Closer Look at the Las Brisas Decision -- Administrative law judges said TCEQ violated Texas law,” Forrest Wilder, the Texas Observer, December 3, 2010. http://www.texasobserver.org/a-closer-look-at-the-las-brisas-decision/
(3) “State judge blocks air permit for Las Brisas plant,” Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 25, 2012. http://www.caller.com/news/2012/jul/25/state-judge-blocks-air-permit-las-brisas-plant/