Redfield, AR – Concerned Arkansas ratepayers, health experts and area residents packed the American Legion on Tuesday evening where the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) held a public hearing on the future of Entergy’s White Bluff coal-fired plant. If ADEQ approves Entergy’s proposal, ratepayers will be charged over one billion dollars to extend the plant’s life.
Glen Hooks, Regional Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign said that, “We should not hit Arkansas ratepayers with a Billion dollar rate increase so that Entergy can continue polluting our air by burning dirty coal. It makes more sense to save that money and to switch to cleaner sources of energy. Dirty Coal is a bad investment for Arkansas.”
Tracy Sykes, a concerned ratepayer from Little Rock, voiced her opposition to the company’s air permit request, stating that, “The White Bluff plant has served us well for a long time. It now is the time for Entergy to seize the opportunity to be a leader in clean energy solutions that will be good for Arkansas.”
The public hearing provided the only forum for citizens to speak face-to-face with ADEQ officials who are reviewing Entergy’s permit request. Concerned citizens can send their written comments into ADEQ until November 24.
Ann Owen, who serves as the Chair of the Second Presbyterian Church’s Environmental Stewardship Task Force and is on the Steering Committee of Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light noted that, “The waste from White Bluff will continue to contaminate our groundwater, and because the air permit does nothing to reduce mercury emissions, our Natural State runs the risk of continuing to be one of the ‘dirty dozen’ states when it comes to mercury pollution.”
Dozens of Sierra Club members attended the hearing to voice their message that shelling out one billion dollars of ratepayer money to keep a dirty coal plant operating is not in the best interest of Arkansas’ citizens.
Scharmel Roussel of Interfaith Power & Light commented that, “I am opposed to Entergy Arkansas wasting $1 billion on outdated technology for a dirty coal plant that should be closed. The expense will be passed on to consumers like me. It is time for Arkansas to invest in clean renewable energy resources for the sakes of our great-great-grandchildren. We have the technology. We need the willpower.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT THE SIERRA CLUB’S ARKANSAS BEYOND COAL WEBSITE AT WWW.SIERRACLUB.ORG/COAL/AR or call Lev Guter, Sierra Club coal organizer, at (501) 301- 8280
Texarkana, AR – On Friday, July 16, 2010, the National Audubon Society, Audubon Arkansas, and the Sierra Club filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to halt the construction of the proposed 600 MW Turk coal fired power plant in Hempstead County.
The motion filed also requests an expedited hearing on the matter because the destruction of wetlands on the construction site makes it a situation of immediate danger.
Lev Guter, Associate Field Organizer with the Sierra Club, stated, “Without a temporary restraining order, the impairment or destruction of the wetlands and surrounding ecosystem will be irreparable. Not only does burning coal poison our drinking water and air, but even the construction of such coal fired plants destroys valuable water and wetland resources. Those resources are being destroyed as we speak and thus the immediacy of the situation warrants a restraining order.”
Ellen Fennell, Interim Director with Audubon Arkansas, stated, “The U.S. Corps of Engineers (USCOE) issued water permits to SWEPCO without due process of law. It totally frustrated any public participation whatsoever in the permitting process for Turk, thereby violating its own regulatory procedures. We ask the Court to issue a TRO and remand the case back to the USCOE with instructions to comply with federal laws.”
Sierra Club, Audubon Arkansas and the National Audubon Society filed for an injunction in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas, Texarkana Division to stop Southwestern Power Company’s construction of the proposed John W. Turk 600 MW coal-fired plant in Hempstead County. The plaintiffs are represented by Richard H. Mays of Mays & White law firm of Heber Springs.
SWEPCO’s proposed John W. Turk, Jr. coal-fired plant sits on 2,800 acres of previously forested land that contains wetlands. Adjacent to the plant site is the Little River, from which SWEPCO proposes to pump 6,500 gallons per minute of water which is 10% of the river’s minimum flow. Also adjacent to the plant site are thousands of acres of some of the most valuable and ecologically sensitive areas in the state, including the Grassy Lake area which is widely recognized as one of the most outstanding examples of virgin Cyprus swamp existing.
The plant, already under construction, would cost upwards of $2 billion as well as contribute to climate change through releasing millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Turk’s construction not only would destroy 8 acres of highly ecologically valuable wetlands, but would also fill in 8,150 feet of stream.
May 24, 2010.
Texarkana, AR – On Friday, May 21, Sierra Club, Audubon Arkansas and the National Audubon Society filed for an injunction in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas, Texarkana Division to stop Southwestern Power Company’s construction of the proposed John W. Turk 600 MW coal-fired plant in Hempstead County.
Richard H. Mays of Heber Springs, attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, stated that the request for injunction is based in part on the failure of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and SWEPCO to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). “The Corps and SWEPCO failed to observe the most basic requirements of NEPA regarding the preparation of environmental assessments and public review and evaluation of the impacts of the Turk plant on the environment and the citizens of Arkansas. We will ask the Judge to require the Corps to conduct the studies the law requires.”
Lev Guter, Associate Field Organizer with the Sierra Club stated, “Pollution from SWEPCO’s dirty coal plant poses a serious risk to not only the ecosystem in which it is being built, but all of Arkansas. We must move beyond our dependence on dirty coal if we are going to keep Arkansas the Natural State.”
SWEPCO’s proposed John W. Turk, Jr. coal-fired plant sits on 2,800 acres of previously forested land that contains wetlands.
Ellen Fennell, Interim Director for Audubon Arkansas said, “The Turk plant is harmful to both the quantity and quality of water in this pristine wetlands–dependent ecosystem. An officially designated Important Bird Area, the Little River Bottoms incubates literally thousands of birds that populate not just Arkansas but also surrounding states. The recent BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico sadly is demonstrating what can happen when large projects like the Turk plant are put into motion without adequately assessing their environmental and public health impacts.”
The plant, already under construction, would cost upwards of $2 billion as well as contribute to climate change through releasing over 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Turk’s construction not only would destroy 8 acres of highly ecologically valuable wetlands, but would also fill in 8,150 feet of stream.
July 14, 2011.
Today, a three-judge panel of the United States 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision that halted construction on eight acres of wetlands and the water intake structure for the proposed Turk coal-fired power plant in southwestern Arkansas. The Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) appealed the decision by United States District Court Judge Bill Wilson, Jr., who halted the construction on October 27, 2010.
Lev Guter, Associate Field Organizer with the Sierra Club, stated, “We are thrilled with the 8th Circuit’s decision to protect the wetlands and water resources jeopardized by the proposed Turk coal plant. Today’s ruling marks an historic victory to protect Arkansans’ public health from the devastation that dirty coal has on our water quality. Our victory is twofold: not only has the Court spared destroying Arkansas’ water resources, but we are one giant step closer towards stopping the burning of more dirty coal, which poisons our health.” Last year, Sierra Club, Audubon and the Hempstead County Hunting Club sought an injunction to stop SWEPCO’s construction of the proposed John W. Turk 600 MW coal-fired plant in Hempstead County. After SWEPCO appealed the US District Court’s decision, the parties presented oral arguments before the U.S. 8th Circuit in St. Paul on March 15th.
Ellen Fennell, Executive Director for Audubon Arkansas, stated, “We applaud the court for affirming what we knew — that the Corps and SWEPCO had willfully ignored the most basic requirements of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) – ignoring environmental review as well as public input. This to the detriment of one of the most significant wildlife and bird production areas in our state, the Little River Bottoms. Recognized as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, these wetlands are an incubator for thousands of birds that populate the region. Everyone who cares about wildlife in our state should be happy with this decision.”
The Turk plant, already under construction, would cost more than $2 billion as well as contribute to climate change through releasing millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Sierra Club and Audubon are represented by Richard H. Mays of Mays & White law firm of Heber Springs. Attorney Richard Mays stated, “The Eighth Circuit conducted an exhaustive review of the District Court record that covered five days of testimony, and concluded that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of the case at final hearing, and that there was a likelihood of irreparable harm from SWEPCO’s actions on the plant site that were authorized by the Corps of Engineers. This is an important ruling in this case. SWEPCO was foolish to continue to construct the plant in the face of the potential for this ruling.”
Jan. 14, 2011.
Little Rock, AR – On Thursday afternoon, January 13, Sierra Club and the Hempstead County Hunting Club appealed the contested Turk air permit to the Arkansas Court of Appeals. The groups seek to overturn Circuit Court Judge Duncan Culpepper’s December 20th decision that upheld the air permit.
Lev Guter, Associate Field Organizer with the Sierra Club stated, “We must protect our air quality, because the air outside is what ultimately winds up in our lungs. We do not have a choice to stop breathing. But we do have a choice to stop enormous and unnecessary coal plants. Dirty soot from Turk is last thing we want to put into Arkansas’ air. Clean air is a basic and fundamental right. We cannot let flawed permitting decisions take away that right.”
On January 22, 2010, the Arkansas Pollution Control & Ecology Commission (the Commission) approved Turk’s air permit. The Sierra Club appealed that decision to the Circuit Court in Hempstead County.
Sierra Club’s brief before the Circuit Court stated that, “[T]he Commission erroneously excluded key evidence from its consideration, such as other plants’ permit limits and stack tests, and accepted higher permit limits than shown to be achievable at other plants without adequate justification…As a result, the plant is permitted to emit thousands more tons of pollution over its life than if the Commission followed the law, harming public health and the environment for years to come.”
Turk’s air permit allows for elevated soot levels as compared to other similar permits, such as for the Plum Point coal plant in Osceola, Arkansas. Turk would spew 180 tons more per year of 10 micrometer soot than if its permit was otherwise set at the more stringent Plum Point emission rate. The Sierra Club brief to the Circuit Court also argued that the APC&E Commission did not adequately address emissions on sulfur dioxide and hazardous air pollutants.
In a separate case over Turk’s contested Federal 404 water permit, the United States 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in December decided to uphold an injunction that has halted site construction on 8 acres of wetlands and the water intake structure under the Little River.
SWEPCO’s proposed John W. Turk, Jr. coal-fired plant sits on 2,800 acres. The plant, already under construction, would cost upwards of $2 billion as well as contribute to climate change through releasing over 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Dec. 7, 2009
Little Rock, AR – The Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) granted a motion on Friday, December 4th to suspend the White Bluff rate making hearing slated for March 8, 2010. The decision comes one day after the PSC’s staff filed a motion to suspend the hearing, allowing time to gather more information about impacts of the Plant’s retrofits.
In its decision the Commission cited letters sent to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture supporting the motion to suspend the hearing. The Commission also cited supporting letters from the Sierra Club and National Audubon Society as well as those from the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and Arkansas Electric Energy Consumers.
The Commission quoted their staff’s reasoning in its decision stating, “[A]s a result of the
letters, ADEQ may take actions which could significantly affect the environmental controls project and, subsequently, this Docket.” As such, PSC staff contend, “[T]he most logical and administratively efficient course of action would be to suspend the procedural schedule in this Docket.”
The Commission did not set an alternate date for the hearing, but noted that, “[B]eginning thirty (30) days from the date of this Order and every 30 days thereafter until modified by a subsequent Commission Order, [Entergy Arkansas, Inc.] shall file a progress report on developments related to the ADEQ and EPA’s ongoing review…”
Lev Guter, the Sierra Club’s Associate Regional Representative, commented that, “Entergy wants to hike the rates of Arkansas electric customers to prolong the life of its White Bluff coal-fired plant that harms Arkansans’ health and environment. The Plant’s retrofits do little to stop spewing out mercury and lung damaging soot and nothing to limit climate changing carbon dioxide emissions. We welcome the Commission’s decision to step cautiously before conducting a hearing where ratepayers’ health, environment and pocketbooks are at stake.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE call Lev Guter, Sierra Club Associate Regional Representative, at (941) 779-3337
June 28, 2011.
Hope, AR – Yesterday evening, Sierra Club volunteers spoke out to protect Arkansas’ water quality at a public hearing held by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) on whether to grant the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES). The draft NPDES permit, if authorized, would allow the proposed John W. Turk coal plant to discharge contaminated water, in terms of elevated temperature as well as toxins, into the Little River thereby putting at risk the health of the ecosystem in southern Arkansas.
Lev Guter, Associate Organizing Representative with the Sierra Club, stated, “The wastewater from Turk would contaminate the Little River and jeopardize endangered aquatic life as well as the public health of Arkansans who recreate and live near the Little River. Turk would poison the water supply with a host of heavy metals including mercury and lead. We need to protect our rivers from contamination, since rivers are the lifeblood of ecosystems that provide our food and water.”
The Little River provides habitat for species listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act such as the Ouachita Rock Pocketbook mussel. Yet Turk, if allowed, would discharge water with elevated temperatures, up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, threatening the health of the species. The draft permit identifies 86 degrees Fahrenheit as the maximum temperature at which the Little River can maintain health. Yet, mixing in Turk’s proposed 95 degree water would easily put the Little River over the acceptable temperature limit, especially on days where the river is naturally already at the 86 degree mark. USGS data shows that the Little River has been at or over 86 degrees 13 times between 1967 and 1995, the period for which data was collected.