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Outcry over San Antonio coal-fired power plant, and biodiesel gets a big boost

A new coal-burning power plant for San Antonio is one step closer to existence as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality granted a draft permit for the facility Monday. Public Citizen Texas director Tom "Smitty" Smith said his organization plans to appeal the permit obtained by City Public Service, the public power company serving the Alamo City, citing 6 million tons of greenhouse gases the plant is projected to create yearly, along with toxic sulfur dioxide and high levels of poisonous heavy metals like mercury (for which Texas ranks No. 1 nationally). Smith noted that winds from San Antonio often blow northward, straight to you know where. According to Public Citizen's Anne Marie Johnson, the energy from the new plant could be obtained for less money by implementing efficiency measures at existing facilities. There will now be a citizen comment period leading up to a public meeting on Dec. 16. This would be the first new coal facility in Texas in 14 years and the first in a string of up to six proposed new coal burners. More info at www.smartgrowthsa.org.


Riding high on a federal tax incentive for biofuels passed late last month, Project BioBus, a 90-day, 15,000-mile tour promoting biodiesel as a cleaner, healthier, domestic alternative to petroleum, rolls into Austin Friday with a 4:30pm stop on the UT campus at Garrison Hall, following a refueling at local soy biodiesel retailer Austin Biofuels. The tax incentive means big business for domestic biodiesel, granting a credit of one cent a gallon for each percentage of biodiesel, according to Stephen Swank of Project BioBus, an effort initiated by students at Middlebury College in Vermont. Translated, that equals a $1 savings per gallon of B100 (100% soy biodiesel), which is usable in any diesel vehicle – bringing the cost of the biofuel to within 10 cents of petroleum diesel. The credits kick off in January, and Swank says the U.S. Department of Energy expects biodiesel to grow from a 25-million-gallon-per-year industry to 125 million with the incentive. Austin Biofuels (www.austinbiofuels.com), which currently sells B100, was recently chosen to participate in Austin's Clean Energy Incubator program providing MBA-level coaching and professional services to start-ups in the renewable industry.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Clean Energy, coal-fired power plant, City Public Service, San Antonio, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, TCEQ, Public Citizen, biodiesel, Project BioBus, Austin Biofuels, Clean Energy Incubator, B100

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