We are thrilled to announce that "due to current economic conditions and increasing regulatory uncertainties," LS Power pulled the plug on the proposed White Pine coal-fired power plant near Ely, Nevada this week. The company will instead focus on delivering renewable power to cities, including Las Vegas.
While economic conditions look bad for any new power project, what may be less clear is which "regulatory uncertainties" LS Power references.
Well, we have a hunch.
The federal government is moving quickly on plans to reign in the kind of global warming pollution that White Pine would have produced, thus bringing the real costs of coal power more in line with less polluting energy sources. As long as greenhouse gas pollution was allowed to be an externalized cost, coal was an artificially cheap power source. Those days are coming to an end. Green power will soon have a more level playing field.
Another aspect of "regulatory uncertainty" is that Earthjustice and our client groups have been bird-dogging this plant. On January 21st, Earthjustice attorney George Torgun filed an appeal with the U.S. Dept. of Interior's Board of Land Appeals to stop the plant from spewing millions of tons of CO2 and other air pollutants into Nevada skies.
George noted that the BLM and LS Power failed to consider Nevada's great potential for developing solar, wind, and geothermal power. In its announcement, LS now says that it will focus on development of a transmission line to "help unleash the significant renewable resource potential that exists within Nevada and other parts of the Western U.S."
This decision follows an earlier announcement by Nevada Energy to postpone construction of the Ely Energy Center, another 1,500 megawatt coal plant proposed for BLM lands in eastern Nevada. Nevada Energy cited the lack of viable technologies to capture and store greenhouse gases, and its desire to move towards "the plentiful sources of renewable energy—primarily solar, geothermal and wind... so that Nevada and its citizens can benefit from these resources as soon as possible."
The watchdog role Earthjustice and our clients play is vital, even if these issues never get into a courtroom.
Slowing the momentum of polluting projects can, and does, move the debate towards greener energy.