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Scrapbook: Club Rallies Against Controversial Petroleum Coke Plant in Texas

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August 11, 2011

Club Rallies Against Controversial Petroleum Coke Plant in Texas


Texas Sierra Club organizer Flavia de la Fuente, above, helped organize a recent rally in Corpus Christi with local partner The Clean Economy Coalition to protest a proposed petroleum coke-fired power plant near the city's heavily-populated downtown.

"We poured 'pet-coke' (charcoal briquettes) into drinking glasses and presented them to the City Council and City Manager Ron Olson to protest a pending water contract for the Las Brisas Energy Center," says de la Fuente, who works with the Club's Texas Beyond Coal campaign.


"Between 40 and 50 people turned out for the rally," says de la Fuente. "We got a live feed from several news stations, front-page coverage in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and a letter-to-the-editor by a member of our team." The rally coincided with the release of the new Harry Potter film, so there were lots of Potter-themed signs, like the one below at right.


Last year the Sierra Club celebrated when an Administrative Law Judge recommended that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality deny a "significantly flawed" permit application to build the plant, but this January the TCEQ granted the permit anyway. The Sierra Club and its allies contend the permit was issued illegally.

Photo courtesy of KIII-3 TV News

The Corpus Christi City Council recently asked City Manager Olson to negotiate a water contract to supply the plant, but the Sierra Club and other conservation groups say that could lead to a major water shortage given the amount of water used by petroleum coke plants.

Photo courtesy of KIII-3 TV News

The 1,200-megawatt Las Brisas plant would be built on a strip of land across Corpus Christi Bay from the city's downtown. "We don't think the plant is going to be good for the air or the water in the Corpus Christi area," Clean Energy Coalition Chairman Jim Klein, below, told KIII-3 TV News. "That's why all these people are here today, to let everybody know about that."

Photo courtesy of KIII-3 TV News

"We want to make sure that when the city water contract is negotiated, all the costs associated with Las Brisas be taken into consideration," Klein said, "not just those directly associated with the plant, but the environmental costs and the affect it will have on the fishing industry, the tourism industry, and the huge tax burden it will place on small businesses in particular if the plant falls out of compliance with the Clean Air Act."


The Clean Economy Coalition, which includes the Sierra Club, held a press conference earlier this year, warning that the Las Brisas Energy Center would cause an increase in asthma, heart attacks, cancer, and neurological problems. Asthma cases in the area are already nearly twice the Texas state average.

Learn more about what the Sierra Club and its allies are doing to promote clean energy, fight pollution, and get America to kick its coal habit.

All photos by Michael Zamora except where noted.


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