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Sierra Club, Hunting Club File Appeal on Turk Air Permit

July 27, 2011

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.

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