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Environmental group wins motion against White Stallion

By adriana_acosta
June 2, 2011 at 1:02 a.m.


A Travis County judge ruled Friday that White Stallion Energy Center's air permit should return to the state for further review.

Judge Lora Livingston, of the 261st District Court, said the site plan approved by the commission is apparently not the plan White Stallion intends to implement.

"It is appropriate to provide the commission with the opportunity to review the site plan White Stallion does intend to implement and to provide the public with an opportunity for review and comment regarding the potential impact of the new site plan," according to the motion released by the judge.

The coal plant was granted an air permit by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality in September.

The hearing was the result request from the Environmental Defense Fund, which claims the coal plant used two different site plans when applying for permits with the TCEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The plans submitted differ in the locations of emission sources, which can change the permit compliance with TCEQ rules and the Clean Air Act standards.

The project site is a 1,200-acre tract, located on the east side of the Colorado River, about 10 miles south of Bay City.

"White Stallion needs to go back to the TCEQ for their air permit," said Eva Hernandez, organizing manager for Sierra Club Texas, one of the groups protesting the plant.

Hernandez said this is just one of many hurdles the coal plant is facing.

"They don't have an air permit, waster water permit, water contract, or their 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers," she said.

With the judge's decision, White Stallion will be affected by the new Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act permit for greenhouse gases, which took effect in January, said Hernandez.

Representatives from White Stallion said they believe this preliminary ruling is in error and expects it will be corrected on appeal.

"The permit remains in force," said Randy Bird, chief operating officer for White Stallion. "The ruling has no effect on White Stallion's ongoing construction plans and schedules."

The review of the air permit may take about five months for the TCEQ to review and make a decision, said Hernandez.

Allison Sliva, president of the No Coal Coalition, said she and her group are happy about the ruling.

"The public's rights are being denied by this lack of transparency with the multiple site plans issue. We have the right to protect our land, our water," she said. "If they want to be the good neighbor they keep insisting they will be, they should willingly share their multiple site plans with the public and allow us to comment - to voice our concerns."

A final order will be released by the judge in the coming weeks.

The energy center will produce enough electricity to supply 650,000 homes throughout the South Texas region. It will provide a lower-cost alternative to natural gas fired generation in Texas and at significantly reduced cost versus all popular possible technology alternatives.

The Lower Colorado River Authority board will also consider the coal plants application for the use of up to 22,000 acre feet of raw water for industrial purposes in its June agenda.

The water will be taken from the Colorado River with transport through the LCRA’s Gulf Coast Irrigation system.

The LCRA will consider the request and may take action during that time.

White Stallion is also working on approval of its permit from the Corps of Engineers and wastewater permits from the TCEQ.

It is estimated the coal plant will contribute approximately $20 million in annual taxes to the area, with approximately $13 million in taxes filtering to the Bay City Independent School District, $3 million going to the Matagorda County government and $2 million for the Matagorda County Hospital District, according to White Stallion officials.

The plant would also bring 2,250 temporary jobs during the four- to five-year construction phase and provide permanent employment for up to 200 people.

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