January 29, 2008
Gov. Easley’s Team Helps Duke Energy Distort New Plant’s Pollution
Cliffside’s new permit violates federal law and public trust; if Duke proceeds,
NC could a become national battleground over coal and climate
Statement from Jim Warren, Executive Director of NC WARN:
The State and Duke Energy seem to be working in tandem to put lipstick on a pig, based on their coordinated announcements today. Despite their withering campaign of distortion, building the Cliffside power plant is a losing strategy for the climate crisis, air quality and mercury poisoning of the North Carolina public.
The question now is whether Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will go forward – and turn NC into a national battleground over climate change and mercury pollution at what could be the last coal-fired power plant under construction in the U.S. In addition to growing public opposition, a host of other factors – climate, recession, soaring costs – could force cancellation of the $2.4 billion plant.
Today’s State press release is filled with as many bogus claims as the one by Duke Energy:
THE FINAL PERMIT APPEARS TO ALLOW ONLY A SLIGHT, TOKEN REDUCTION IN MERCURY LIMITS SINCE THE DRAFT PERMIT. And it was a “recalculation.” The state did not require any changes to controls. Therefore the permit is in noncompliance with federal mercury rules. Instead of requiring proven controls to lower mercury emissions, the state would allow Cliffside to use an untested control system based on promises by equipment manufacturers.
DUKE & STATE BOAST OF PLANS TO MAKE CLIFFSIDE “CARBON NEUTRAL” BY 2018. A meaningless statement, it’s based on vague promises of carbon “offsets” elsewhere. Also, saying Cliffside could accommodate “future carbon control technology” is entirely hypothetical. The new unit would emit over 6 millions tons per year of uncontrolled carbon dioxide – 12 times more than four small units the company says it will retire. As NASA’s James Hansen emphasizes, this type of coal-fired “business-as-usual for even another decade will be disastrous.”
DUKE & THE STATE BOAST OF RETIRING THREE MORE OLD PLANTS BY 2018. But those were already scheduled for retirement, according to Duke’s December Integrated Resource Plan.
SULFUR DIOXIDE, PARTICULATES AND NITROGEN OXIDE. Despite an EPA lawsuit against Duke, the state is allowing Duke to avoid evaluating the cumulative impacts on regional air quality, invalidating the company’s claim of a cleaner plant.
Duke’s PR has misled thousands of people into believing that somehow building a new plant will actually reduce pollution. NC WARN is appalled that the Easley administration is going along with Duke’s aggressive public relations deception, which masks the increased pollution of the new plant behind upgrades made to an existing Cliffside unit. Those upgrades are already required under state law.
As dozens of similar plants are being cancelled across the U.S., Duke CEO Jim Rogers – the man who talks a good game about climate concern and energy efficiency – could become mired in his own hypocrisy. For people who realize the severity of our climate crisis, all the marbles are on stopping coal and nuclear power plants. Citizen groups cannot afford to ever stop fighting for Cliffside’s cancellation.
As Dr. Hansen emphasized in his recent visit to North Carolina, the best thing our state can do against accelerating climate change is to cancel this veritable global warming machine, and ramp up energy efficiency and the renewable energy alternatives proving highly successful in the free marketplace.
It appears that the Easley administration has sold out the people of North Carolina in favor of a giant corporation notorious for using financial influence and deceptive propaganda to influence our public institutions. We again call on CEO Jim Rogers to cancel this entirely unnecessary plant. Otherwise, he and Governor Mike Easley will be on the wrong side of history.