Monday, December 10, 2007

Coal: You Lose Again

Regulators in Washington state have followed the example set by Kansas and sent a utility eager to build a new coal plant back to the drawing board. Regulators are requiring the utility, Energy Northwest, to figure out what it is going to do with its proposed plant's greenhouse gas emissions before they will consider the utility's application. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

State energy regulators have stopped the permit application for a coal-fueled power plant in southwest Washington until the builder meets requirements of a new climate change law.

In an order issued Tuesday, the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council has suspended the application from Energy Northwest until the public power consortium addresses how it will sequester carbon emissions.

There are a few parallels to South Carolina and Santee Cooper's proposed coal plant: Energy Northwest is essentially a consortium of public utilities in Washington State and the proposed plant represents an unprecedented power-plant building spree for the utility. Santee Cooper is also a public utility, supplying power to a consortium of electric cooperatives. Its also on a mission to double its CO2 emissions via a crash-course of coal plant construction projects.

But the similarities end there. The Washington plant was stopped by the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, a regulatory agency charged with "specifying the conditions of construction and operation; [issuing] permits in lieu of any other individual state or local agency authority; and [managing] an environmental and safety oversight program of facility and site operations." Boy could we use one of those here. That's because Santee Cooper is subject to ZERO regulatory oversight.

Moreoever, Washington State has passed a climate change law that limits utilities ability to build new coal plants that would emit greenhouse gases willy-nilly into the already warming atmosphere!

Of course, we South Carolinians don't have to just sit by and watch in awe. We can let Santee Cooper know we don't want this plant, we can also let our elected officials know.

Read more about this victory for good government and climate stewardship here.

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