Big meeting on Wednesday. Press release here from environmental groups Sierra Club and MountainTrue:
ASHEVILLE – The The WNC Regional Air Quality Agency will hold a hearing and accept public comment about its proposal to renewal Duke Energy’s air pollution permit for the Asheville coal-fired power plant. The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 29 at Clyde A. Erwin High School Auditorium, 60 Lees Creek Road. Community members from throughout Asheville and Buncombe County are expected to attend and voice opposition to the terms of the draft permit.
“The numeric limit on sulfur dioxide emissions in the draft permit will not protect our community from the dangerous air pollution caused by Duke’s Asheville coal plant. A plant without any air pollution controls (or “scrubbers”) could easily meet this weak limit,”said Kelly Martin, North Carolina Representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
In fact, the proposed numeric emission limit is 80 times higher than the limit necessary to guarantee that the federal health-based standard for air quality is achieved in communities downwind of the plant. Not one of Duke’s other coal-fired power plants in the State has such a lenient numeric limit for sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.
A recent report demonstrates that Duke’s Asheville coal plant has been causing harmful SO2 pollution at levels considered unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency for the past several years. Areas impacted include parts of South Asheville, Fairview, and Leicester, as well as trails in the Bent Creek Forest.
The air modeling study conducted by Air Resource Specialists shows that concentrations of SO2 in the air near people’s homes downwind of the Asheville coal plant are, at times, 3.5 times higher than what EPA has determined to be safe. According to the study, the plant’s pollution has exceeded these minimum public health standards one out of every three to four days since 2010.
A separate analysis of operations at the plant points to two likely causes of this elevated pollution levels: Duke apparently has not been running its scrubbers (the equipment that captures SO2 before is can be released into the air) fully and, at the same time, has switched to cheaper, dirtier, higher-sulfur coal. These changes likely reduce the cost of running the plant, which is one of the utility’s most expensive to operate.
“This public hearing is an important opportunity for Asheville residents to voice their concerns about our community’s air quality,” said Julie Mayfield, Co-Director of MountainTrue (formerly, the Western North Carolina Alliance). “It is up to us to make sure that the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency does its job and protects families downwind of the Asheville plant from unsafe pollution.”
And here’s a new television ad that will be running, put out by the Sierra Club
shut it down!