Oregon's Lone Coal-Fired Power Plant Slated to Close
On December 9, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission unanimously approved a plan by Portland General Electric (PGE) to close the Boardman coal-fired power plant within ten years.
That's Sierra Club student leader Anastasia Schemkes above, giving testimony about Boardman at an Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) hearing earlier this year.
Closing Boardman—Oregon's only coal-fired power plant—has been the top priority of the Sierra Club's Oregon Beyond Coal campaign. PGE says that Boardman, which opened in 1977, would be the youngest U.S. coal plant to close for environmental reasons.
The Sierra Club sued PGE in 2009 for Clean Air Act violations by Boardman, and Oregon Chapter activists have been staging rallies, speaking out at public hearings, and putting the pedal to the metal to educate the public and apply pressure on the utility.
In June more than 400 people jammed a PUC hearing to discuss Boardman's future, prompting the Commission to extend the hearing by two hours and eliciting remarks from Portland Mayor Sam Adams about the "sea of Coal-Free Oregon t-shirts."
"Volunteers put in countless hours giving public presentations, tabling, writing letters, and attending hearings," says Beyond Coal organizer Robin Everett. "They provided a critical voice in this fight, and without them we would be facing at least 30 more years of coal in Oregon."
PGE approved Boardman's closure by December 31, 2020, in exchange for a smaller investment in pollution controls than the Sierra Club had been seeking. "This is probably the best outcome we could have gotten from the Environmental Quality Commission," Everett told The Oregonian. "We believe Boardman will close much sooner than that."
The Sierra Club's lawsuit, combined with new pollution regulations anticipated in 2011 and an EPA violation issued this fall for operating the plant without adequate pollution controls, could force Boardman to close well before 2020.
Everett gives kudos to fellow Sierra Club coal organizers Cesia Kearns, Kathleen Ridihalgh, and Bill Corcoran, and Oregon Chapter representatives Ivan Maluski and Brian Pasko.
Learn more about the Sierra Club's work to move America beyond coal.