White Stallion gets air permit

By adriana_acosta

Sept. 29, 2010 at 4:29 a.m.

AUSTIN - White Stallion Energy Center is a step closer to construction of a coal burning plant.

On Wednesday, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality granted the air quality permit, which includes the state air quality permit, prevention of significant deterioration air quality permit, plant-wide applicability limit permit and hazardous air pollutant major source permit.

The permits authorize construction and operation of the 1,200-acre tract that will be located on the east side of the Colorado River, about 10 miles south of Bay City.

"I am pleased with the vote and it verifies what we have been saying about the project," said Randy Bird, chief operating officer for White Stallion Energy Center.

This says the project will be protective of human health for Matagorda County, he said.

The total investment for the energy center is more than $2.5 billion and will bring 2,000 construction jobs during the construction phase and 200 permanent jobs.

All four board commissioners approved the application with some limits.

"I am comfortable with moving forward with this and move that we adopt the proposed application," said Bryan Shaw, chairman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at the commissioners court meeting.

Environmental groups such as No Coal Coalition, Sierra Club and Public Citizen were at the meeting.

"The commissioners have ignored the recommendations of their own administrative law judges," said Jen Powis, senior representative for Sierra Club.

The air permit was passed, and some limits were lowered, but not to the recommended emission limits of what was recommended and not to what we see on a nationwide bases, said Powis.

"We are disappointed, but this was not unexpected," said Allison Sliva, president of No Coal Coalition.

Their decision will probably be pushing the county into non-attainment, she said.

"But what is more important is that public comments are ignored," she said. "The people that are going to be impacted by this, their voices are not being heard."

The permits were passed with special conditions, but amended to fix some minor issues on the list, like having lower emissions, Powis continued.

"This is a complicated process and it takes about 50 steps to complete this and today we achieved 10," Bird said.

Next for the 1,320 megawatt, base-load, solid fueled electric power generating station is to obtain permits for waste water from the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

A public meeting for the waste water permit is scheduled for Oct. 28 at the Bay City Civic Center.

The energy center also needs the ash landfill permit, but they have not submitted an application, he said.

"We are doing everything right according to the law," Bird said.

The environmental groups that attended the meeting plan to continue the fight, said Sliva in a news conference after the decision was passed.

"This is just one battle in a war," she said. "Those guys from Kentucky, they have met their match."

The energy center will contribute an estimated $20 million in annual taxes to the area, with about $13 million in taxes filtering to the Bay City school district, $3 million going to the Matagorda County government, and $2 million for the Matagorda County Hospital District.



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