MAC: Mines and Communities

New Montana Power Plant Permit Appealed

Published by MAC on 2007-05-30

New Montana Power Plant Permit Appealed

HELENA, Montana, (ENS)

30th May 2007

Two citizens groups are appealing the air permit for the Highwood Generating Facility, a new coal-fired power plant proposed for construction on top of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark outside of Great Falls, Montana.

On behalf of the Montana Environmental Information Center and Citizens for Clean Energy, the public interest environmental law firm Earthjustice today filed papers to require a regulation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants.

The legal action follow the Supreme Court's April 2 decision in the global warming case, Massachusetts v. EPA in which the court ruled that carbon dioxide is a "pollutant" subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

According to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, DEQ, the proposed Highwood plant would emit 2.8 million tons of greenhouse gases, including 2.1 million tons of carbon dioxide, CO2, each year.

While the DEQ acknowledged that these emissions will contribute to global warming, the agency declined to require the plant developers to employ any pollution controls for CO2.

"We are very concerned that Montana is giving CO2 a free pass," said Abigail Dillen, an Earthjustice attorney who is representing the citizen groups, "Ignoring CO2 and global warming impacts is not just bad public policy, it's illegal."

"Montana can and should be a leader in the fight against global warming," said Anne Hedges of Montana Environmental Information Center.

In April, the Montana legislature passed a measure requiring the state's default supplier, NorthWestern Energy, to capture and sequester 50 percent of CO2 emissions from new coal plants.

However, for other utilities operating in the state, "it's business as usual," Hedges said. "The DEQ is permitting the same old dirty plants when there are better, cleaner ways to meet our energy needs."

In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, the two organizations are aiming to curb emissions of fine particles that cause premature death, heart attacks, and asthma, among other serious cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

Despite new federal rules, which have substantially tightened emissions standards for fine particles, known as PM2.5, the DEQ failed to impose emissions limits, consider pollution controls, or require monitoring for PM2.5.

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