Georgia’s Longleaf coal plant stopped; a major victory for environmental groups

By Maria Saporta

An agreement to cancel plans for a new coal plant in Blakely, Ga. could mark the end of traditional coal plants in Georgia and even the United States.

LS Power, a New Jersey-based power company, announced Monday that it was halting a 10-year effort to build the Longleaf Energy Station in Blakely.

The decision came after a decade-long opposition campaign by the Sierra Club, Friends of the Chattahoochee and GreenLaw against building the plant.

The environmental organizations said that this marks the 160th proposed coal plant that has been canceled since the Sierra Club launched its Beyond Coal campaign in 2005. Since November 2008 only one coal plant has broken ground anywhere in the United States, a coal project in Mississippi.

The announcement was part of a nationwide agreement with Sierra Club that also required LS Power to abandon its proposed Plum Point 2 coal plant in Arkansas and imposed strict new limits on air pollution from the new Sandy Creek coal plant in Texas. The agreement requires the company to withdraw all requests for permits in Georgia and Arkansas, and that any issued permits be rescinded or revoked.

“This is not just a victory for the individuals and organizations fighting this plant, but also for all Georgians, who are now safe from a major new source of toxic air pollution,” said Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, in a release. “This victory represents our best work: combining the power of the courts, the power of the people and the power of the press.”

The Sierra Club, GreenLaw, and several other environmental and public health organizations are continuing their fight to stop the two remaining coal plant proposals in Georgia proposed by POWER4Georgians in Central and Southeast Georgia.

The environmental organizations also are continuing their efforts to transition Georgia off of imported coal and onto clean energy like wind and solar. It is part of a national effort involving unprecedented collaboration by more than a hundred organizations nationwide. Over the past decade this national campaign has stopped 160 proposed coal plants and secured record investments in clean energy. Since November 2008 only one coal plant has broken ground anywhere in the United States, a highly-subsidized project in Mississippi.

“Longleaf’s cancelation is one of dozens that have swept the nation, which raises the question – when will state officials finally learn that Georgia’s citizens deserve better than coal?” said Justine Thompson, GreenLaw’s executive director, in a statement. “Georgia has a promising future – but to be a serious player in the global economy while also ensuring that we have clean air and water, Georgia needs to embrace energy efficiency and more renewable sources of energy.”

If it had been built, Plant Longleaf would have contributed 88 pounds of toxic mercury per year, 1,938 pounds of lead per year, and more than 8,000 tons of soot and smog per year, to Georgia’s atmosphere and water system. Mercury pollution can cause neurological disorders and birth defects in babies; and soot and smog contribute to respiratory illness and trigger asthma attacks.

To find out more information about the Longleaf project, click www.greenlaw.org/Longleaf.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

2 replies
  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    This environmental program ignores some basic facts of life:

    1. We need a growing supply of base load generation to supply our growing population. Base load is the load that exists 24 hours a day when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

    2. We cannot supply base load from solar or wind generation until we learn how to store electricity at a reasonable cost.

    3. Our present energy sources for base load are coal, natural gas and nuclear.

    No energy source for base load has zero environmental impact.Report

    Reply

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