WASHINGTON (CN) - The Sierra Club sued the U.S. Department of Energy to stop it from giving a huge gift to dirty coal. The Sierra Club claims Uncle Sam plans to hand out $270 million for a new strip mine and coal-fired plant in Mississippi, ignoring a mandate to explore environmentally friendly alternatives.
In May 2010 the Energy Department granted the Mississippi Power Co. $270 million in federal loans to open a new 12,000-acre strip mine and a 582-megwatt "mine-mouth" plant. The giant project will industrialize areas that now are forest and "prime farmland," the Sierra Club says.
The project, which will be next to low-income communities, will burden them with toxic air and water pollution, as the dangers of coal ash waste.
The plant will spew 5.7 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year, equivalent to emissions from 3 million passenger cars, the Sierra Club says. And coastal communities near the plant already face a high risk of being affected by global warming.
Though the Department of Energy awarded the money through programs meant to support advanced coal technology and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Mississippi Power's plan includes no limits on carbon dioxide emissions or requirements for carbon sequestration, according to the federal complaint.
Mississippi Power proposes to deliver carbon dioxide to oilfields, so it can be injected into reservoirs for oil extraction, the Sierra Club says.
The $270 million award violates environmental law by precluding consideration of alternatives and failing to analyze cumulative environmental impacts, the Sierra Club says.
Represented by Khushi Desai with Earthjustice of Washington, the Sierra Club wants the loan invalidated.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.