Arkansas Chapter Gets Results from Comments, Hearing
Our Arkansas Chapter just received some good results from their organizing around the future of the Entergy 1,600-megawatt White Bluff coal-fired power plant in Redfield.
Chapter Staffer Lev Guter said the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) recently announced that because of the comments that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ)received, the PSC is "indefinitely suspending its March 2010 Hearing about the associated rate increase to fund the permit."
The chapter had packed a Nov. 17 hearing held by ADEQ about Entergy’s air permit proposal, which, had it been approved, would've charged ratepayersover one billion dollars to extend the plant's life.
"We organized and bused a group of about 25 people and a good portion of them, around 10, decided to testify," said Guter. "For some of them, it was their first time ever testifying- especially in front of so many people. I would estimate over 150 people packed a room that was meant for far fewer than that. If we hadn't been there, I'm afraid that almost no one there would have voiced our side. Though in a fortunate surprise, only a dozen or so of the other side decided to testify, so we had decent oral testimony representation."
Guter said their easy to remember thought on this White Bluff plan was, "In short, why spend $1 billion for many more years of burning pollution-causing coal?"
Glen Hooks, Regional Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign said the region should switch to clean energy. "We should not hit Arkansas ratepayers with a Billion dollar rate increase so that Entergy can continue polluting our air by burning dirty coal," explained Hooks. "It makes more sense to save that money and to switch to cleaner sources of energy. Dirty Coal is a bad investment for Arkansas citizens."
Guter said the public hearing provided the only forum for citizens to speak face-to-face with ADEQ officials who are reviewing Entergy's permit request and will either approve or deny it. Concerned citizens sent in their to ADEQ until its November 24th deadline.
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."
Way to go, Arkansas Chapter!