Dirty Days Ahead?

TCEQ approves permit for TXU's Oak Grove coal power plant in Robertson County, about 100 miles from Austin

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved late Wednesday, June 13, the permit for Texas Utility's Oak Grove coal power plant, to be located about 100 miles northwest of Austin in Robertson Co. The mammoth Oak Grove, really two plants in one, would on its first day of operations be among the highest-emitting power plants in the country. Opponents fear it will push Austin into federal violation for smog and ozone pollution, keep other metropolitan cities from lifting themselves out of violation, and dramatically exacerbate the state's already worst-in-the-nation mercury and carbon-dioxide pollution. The commissioners (all appointees of Gov. Rick Perry) voted 2-1 to approve the permit, overturning a decision by two state administrative law judges recommending that the permit be denied based on TXU's failure to demonstrate that its pollution controls could function properly with low-grade lignite coal.

Austin Mayor Will Wynn urged commissioners to deny the permit Wednesday. He had plenty of company, including representatives of Dallas and Houston, counties, school districts, and conservation groups, in addition to all of the state's environmental groups. Representatives of several nearby rural towns spoke in favor of the permit, including Fairfield Mayor Roy Hill, who revealed last year during testimony that the pro-coal group he headed up, Texans for Affordable Reliable Power, was partially funded by TXU.

Robertson County Our Land Our Lives, a prominent community group representing citizens living near Oak Grove, has said it will appeal the TCEQ decision and likely file suit in state district court. Perhaps ripe for adjudication is the fact that Oak Grove's air-quality permit was rushed through the TCEQ's review process under Perry's controversial 2005 executive order fast-tracking coal-plant approvals, which was overturned in state district court in February.

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More Oak Grove
Naked City
Naked City

Aug. 10, 2007

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Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, TXU, Oak Grove, coal power plants, Will Wynn, Roy Hill, Robertson County Our Land Our Lives, Rick Perry

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