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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Enviros Applaud Surge in Folding Coal Plant Plans

HOUSTON (CN) - Environmentalists credited cheap, abundant natural gas and staunch protest for bringing down plans to build a coal-fired power plant southwest of Houston.

Developers proposed the White Stallion Energy Center in 2008 for construction in Matagorda County, a coastal county 90 miles southwest of Houston known for its wildlife and beaches.

A coalition of environmental groups, Matagorda County residents, business owners and land owners banded together to oppose the plant.

"Developers had trouble securing sufficient water to operate the plant and the necessary funding to develop the proposed plant in earnest," the Sierra Club said in a statement.

"In November 2011, amid strong grassroots opposition, the Lower Colorado River Authority voted to deny a contract to provide water to operate the plant.

"In May 2012, local fishermen and business owners publicly announced their opposition to the plant because it would be a major new source of mercury pollution in a community whose economy is tied closely to the bay. The plant also suffered a blow when a court ruled against its challenges to Clean Air Act safeguards."

Burning coal in power plants releases mercury into the air, and only a small amount can pollute watersheds, the groups said.

Sierra Club said that the White Stallion Energy Center is the latest of 34 coal-related projects to have been canceled over the past decade.

"The Texas electricity market has shifted substantially, with wind power and natural gas driving electricity prices so low that huge, capital-intensive new coal plants could not compete," according to the group's statement.

It said natural gas prices fell sharply starting in 2009 with decreased demand, and a glut in the market caused by the advent of hydraulic fracking, which uses sand, water and chemicals to blast open shale rock and release natural gas trapped inside.

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