The TransAlta coal-fired power plant, just outside of Centralia, WA. Photo: Earthjustice.
Washington State's TransAlta coal plant must come into compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. Located just outside of Centralia, Washington, the plant is the state's largest single source of air pollution. And not just one kind.
In addition to being Washington's largest emitter of global warming pollution, the TransAlta plant pollutes Puget Sound and high mountain lakes with mercury and also releases nitrogen oxides, which create haze in nearby national parks and wilderness areas, even obscuring the visibility of the majestic Mount Rainier.
The people of Washington State are paying a big price for the continued operation of this coal plant. That's why Earthjustice is taking action.
Earthjustice, working with the Sierra Club, the National Parks Conservation Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Earth Ministry, is advocating for the conversion of the plant to cleaner fuels such as natural gas or renewable fuels by 2015.
But up until the point of conversion, the TransAlta plant will continue to fill Washington's air and water with dangerous pollutants from burning coal. So we're using our legal expertise to compel TransAlta to follow the law by cutting down on the plant's out-of-control pollution in the short term and to demonstrate that a timely conversion to cleaner energy sources is the better business choice.
Unfortunately, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has her own plan, and it doesn't involve convincing TransAlta to convert by 2015. She is negotiating deals with TransAlta to wait until 2025 to transition the Canadian-owned facility off coal and to not require new pollutant controls in the meantime. This generous timeline allows "business and pollution as usual" for decades.
Washington State has an obligation to protect its citizens and environment, and residents have a right to be involved in any deal that impacts their health or their environment. The transition to a cleaner energy system across the state can begin as soon as roadblocks to that progress are either cleaned up or removed. TransAlta is first on the list.
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