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Sierra Club and Audubon File Injunction to Halt Turk Coal Fired Plant Construction

July 27, 2011

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.

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