Environmentalists Want Three TX Coal Plants Shut Down

Last week, the EPA announced new rules that will force power plants to cut back on air pollution. But Texas environmentalists are continuing the fight. On Tuesday they singled out specific power plants by name, saying that three in northeast Texas are releasing dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide. KUHF Health Science and Technology reporter Carrie Feibel has more.

The Sierra Club analyzed how much sulfur dioxide is coming out of three plants owned by Luminant.

The nearest to Houston is the Big Brown Plant, off 45 North, about halfway between Huntsville and Dallas.

 “Sulfur dioxide is a toxic acid gas that attacks and damages the lung tissues”

That’s Neil Carman, a chemist with the Sierra Club. He says each of the three plants is releasing double the legal limit of sulfur dioxide.

 “Luminant should begin phasing out and retiring their dirtiest coal plants - Martin Lake, Monticello and Big Brown. Because these plants are public health hazards.”

The new rules the EPA released last week address sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide – ingredients that contribute to soot, smog and acid rain. The rules could force companies to install new equipment to scrub and capture those gases.

One Texas company, CPS Energy, says that instead of doing that, it will shut down two of its oldest coal plants. It will shift the money into wind, gas and solar projects.

Ashley Barrie is with Luminant. She had no comment on what strategy her company would pursue. But she says the company has made progress.

“Since 2005, Luminant has achieved a 21 percent reduction in total sulfur dioxide emissions, while over the same period increasing total generation by 13 percent and adding 800 employees.”

The environmentalist claim it would cost Luminant $3.6 billion to add the necessary equipment just to keep the three plants going.

Barrie had no comment on that figure.

From the KUHF Health Science and Technology Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...