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Fayette on the Naughty List

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 5, 2023

Dear Editor,
    Great reporting in December 1st’s Coal Stocking cover on our Fayette coal plant. [“Why Austin Can't Seem to Quit Its Despised Coal Plant,” News] LCRA does deserve coal in its stocking. Lina Fisher did a masterful job of looking at this over-the-top polluter from many perspectives. Fayette is the fourth largest CO2 polluter in Texas – and that’s saying something. It belches 71% of Austin’s community wide C02 emissions. We’ve been fighting Fayette’s emissions for years and I can tell you Austin City Council gets it and LCRA doesn’t. Austin has been working to close the plant – or at least our portion of it for over a decade.
    Fisher’s article shines the spotlight on LCRA where the real intransigence lies. This self-governing empire of power and water is accountable only to the governor who appoints its board of directors. The Texas Legislature and TCEQ give it a pass on pollution and climate issues. LCRA runs our life-critical water supply on a five-year plan that looks back to historic river flows while ignoring ever growing issues of climate change, upstream demand, changing land use practices and aquifer reductions that deplete spring flows. Their commitment running the coal plant “forever” totally ignores climate change and the health impacts of coal pollution. To change LCRA, change the governor.
    A second huge issue is water. The coal plant uses 6,355,072,053 precious gallons of Colorado River water a year – 2022 numbers – from the Highland Lakes and LCRA and Austin’s river rights. That’s almost equal to the water use of the city of Cedar Park, Leander or Pflugerville. It’s quite astonishing. This could be put to much better use suppling the region’s citizens, businesses, and farmers in these drought challenged times. Thanks to the Chronicle for focusing on the LCRA’s responsibility in keeping this coal pollution filling the skies and lungs of Texas – and in the huge water dividend that could be realized in shutting it down.
Al Braden
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