Consumer and clean-energy advocates are applauding Tuesday’s decision by Washington state siting officials to halt consideration of a proposed coal-fueled power plant in Kalama.
Members of the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) unanimously rejected developer Energy Northwest’s alleged plan for permanently storing (“sequestering”) some of its climate-damaging carbon dioxide emissions — as required by state law.
Senate Bill 6001, passed this year by the Washington State Legislature, requires new power plants in the state to emit no more CO2 than would a modern natural gas-fired plant. The proposed Kalama coal plant could be permitted if its developers produced an acceptable, feasible plan for capturing and storing the excess emissions and made a good-faith effort to implement that plan.
The NW Energy Coalition, the Sierra Club’s Cascade chapter, the Washington Environmental Council and those groups’ Earthjustice attorneys argued that the developer had not produced such a plan. They further argued that EFSEC should stop wasting the public’s time and money considering such a fatally flawed permit application. On Tuesday, EFSEC agreed.
According to the council, Energy Northwest’s greenhouse gas reduction plan “misses the mark by a wide margin — it is not susceptible of a few minor fixes to render it even minimally sufficient.” EFSEC refused to further consider the permit application unless and until Energy Northwest crafts an acceptable plan.
“Energy Northwest should stop wasting ratepayers’ money on this plant,” said Sierra Club regional representative Kathleen Ridihalgh. “Investments in conservation, energy efficiency and renewables are a better use of public utility customers’ money.”
Washington Environmental Council climate campaign director Becky Kelley commended EFSEC for halting a project that would pump up to 6 million tons of global-warming pollution into Washington skies every year. “We should promote renewable sources now — that is a key way we will succeed in meeting the challenge of climate change,” Kelley said.
“It’s time to move on,” stressed Earthjustice attorney Steve Mashuda. “Coal is a 19th-century answer to a 21st-century problem.”
NW Energy Coalition policy associate Carrie Dolwick noted carbon sequestration’s potential for slowing the world-wide rise in climate pollution. “Given the inadequate sequestration plan submitted, this isn’t the project that’s going to help us realize that potential,” Dolwick said. “We sincerely hope Energy Northwest will accept this decision and apply its talents and resources to helping its member public utilities develop the clean-energy resources mandated by Initiative 937 and SB 6001.