If built, the Avenal gas-fired power plant would rain down pollution on one of the most polluted and economically disadvantaged areas of California’s San Joaquin Valley—a region known for some of the highest levels of ozone and soot pollution in the nation. The nearby cities of Avenal, Huron and Kettleman City are predominantly low-income, communities of color that already suffer from health impacts related to air and other sources of pollution.
In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit for the project that illegally waived the need to comply with several key air pollution standards. Since then, Avenal has chosen not to begin construction of the project even though by law the permit expires after 18 months. In its latest move, executed without any public participation, EPA has now also waived the 18-month construction deadline, compounding the project’s failure to demonstrate that it will install state-of-the-art greenhouse gas controls and that it will not cause or contribute to the Valley’s ongoing air pollution problems.
Earthjustice is representing a coalition of environmental justice and conservation groups in lawsuits that challenge EPA’s decisions to issue and then extend Avenal’s federal air pollution permit.