Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Coal combustion produces smog, soot, acid rain, the neurotoxin mercury, and is the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions, a leading cause of global warming. ELPC works throughout the Midwest to clean up old, dirty coal plants and prevent the building of unnecessary new plants. Our current includes:
After more than a decade of advocacy by ELPC and our many allies in the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, two of the oldest and dirtiest coal plants in the nation have closed. Chicago is now a coal-free city. In August 2012, Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of Edison International, shut down the Fisk plant in Pilsen and the Crawford plant in Little Village. For more than 10 years, ELPC’s team helped lead the successful legal and strategic policy advocacy campaign with our colleagues to shut down these old, highly polluting plants. This effort included litigation in federal court and before the Illinois Pollution Control Board and active participation and leadership in the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, a ground-breaking grassroots campaign to make Chicago coal-free. Thousands of Chicago residents called on government officials and Midwest Generation to shut down the Fisk and Crawford coal plants. In winter 2012, the Coalition was heard, with Mayor Emanuel facilitating an agreement between community and environmental groups, the City of Chicago, and Midwest Generation in which the company agreed to shut down the plants. The shutdown of these old, dirty coal plants is a big step toward cleaner air for all of us to breathe, cleaner water and safer neighborhoods. That’s great for our environment, our health and our city’s greener economy.
In Michigan, ELPC is lead counsel for a coalition that opposes the proposed new 600-megawatt Wolverine coal plant in the picturesque fishing town of Rogers City. Our work has included massive, coordinated statewide efforts to document legal deficiencies with 8 coal plants proposed in the state as well as more robust legal challenge of the Wolverine plant in particular. The coalition scored a major victory when former Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE) Director Rebecca Humphries denied a permit needed to build the controversial plant. But a state court overturned that decision, and the state agency issued the air permit to Wolverine in June 2011. ELPC is now litigating an appeal of the permit before the Michigan Court of Appeals.
In October 2012, ELPC and environmental colleagues expanded our fight against dirty coal by bringing suit against Midwest Generation for groundwater contamination linked to coal ash ponds at four of the company’s highly-polluting coal plants. To stop dangerous chemicals from leaching from the coal ash ponds into underlying groundwater, we have asked the Illinois Pollution Control Board to force Midwest Generation to stop disposing coal ash in the ponds, as well as to clean up the contamination those ponds have caused. This is the first suit of its kind in Illinois, and ELPC hopes to set important precedent to ensure that coal plant owners in the state are held responsible for the pollution that their toxic coal ash has caused.
ELPC represents the Kentucky Chapter of the Sierra Club and other local groups in legal challenges to air permits issues to two coal-to-synthetic natural gas plants, Cash Creek and Kentucky NewGas. In June 2012, ELPC and our clients achieved significant success when the US EPA granted our petitions to object to the plants’ permits, holding that KDAQ violated public participation requirements and issued permits that failed to take into account all forms of pollution, including those generated from flares during malfunctions and shutdowns. U.S. EPA’s objections require KDAQ to correct the legal failures in the permits, reissue both permits in draft form, and provide a new opportunity for public comment on the revised permits.