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Challenging A Retrofit Of The Aging Gallatin Coal Plant

The Gallatin Fossil Plant is one of the largest sources of air and water pollution in Tennessee.

The Gallatin Fossil Plant is one of the largest sources of air and water pollution in Tennessee.

Photo by Tennessee Valley Authority

What's at Stake

Earthjustice is challenging a Tennessee utility’s decision to sink more than a billion dollars into extending the life of an ancient coal plant rather than invest in energy efficiency and renewables—an alternative that local ratepayers overwhelmingly support.


The Gallatin Fossil Plant, near Nashville, TN, is a major polluter in the state that has sullied the region for five decades. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the plant’s owner, plans to spend more than one billion dollars to retrofit the decrepit facility. Public polling indicates local voters overwhelmingly oppose the project and favor cleaner sources of power rather than the resuscitation of dirty ones.

TVA’s proposed endeavor has a heavy price tag that goes far beyond its exorbitant dollar cost. To build the project, TVA would clear cut a forested Wildlife Management Area on Old Hickory Lake, replacing it with hundred-foot tall landfills of hazardous coal ash. TVA’s plans will require the popular Cumberland River Aquatic Center to relocate; the Center is one of the world’s most successful hatcheries of endangered freshwater mussels. Finally, by choosing to invest in an aging coal facility, TVA will increase costs for consumers over decades.

Earthjustice and other conservation groups have repeatedly encouraged TVA to switch to cleaner power sources, including energy efficiency, rather than sinking a billion dollars into its plan, but TVA refused to analyze other options and failed to include the public in its decision-making process. Earthjustice’s lawsuit charges that TVA’s failure to consider other options and involve the public violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the nation’s bedrock environmental law.

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