Oregon DEQ pushes back on PGE’s ‘2020 plan’

Note, the press release below is from May, 2010. For more updated blog posts on the Boardman power plant, please visit:

‘DEQ: PGE Must Clean up, Phase out Use of Coal at Boardman’ – December  6, 2010

‘How the West is Winning Against Coal’ – December 17, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Recommends Portland General Electric Consider Phasing Out Dirty Boardman Coal-Fired Power Plant Before 2020

Sierra Club Supports DEQ Recommendation

(Portland, OR) – The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced this week that the agency may reject Portland General Electric’s plan to close the Boardman coal-fired power plant in eastern Oregon in 2020, so the DEQ can scrutinize the closure date and required pollution controls in more depth. PGE had submitted a proposal to phase out the Boardman coal-fired power plant by 2020 as opposed to the originally scheduled shutdown date of 2040, in exchange for not being required to install pollution controls that would have limited the dangerous air pollution which threatens families in Oregon every day that Boardman operates.

The Sierra Club’s Coal Free Oregon campaign has been working to ensure that families, the environment and the economy in Oregon are not forced to continue suffering the effects of dirty and dangerous pollution emitted when PGE burns coal at Boardman.  The Sierra Club released the following statement in response to the recent development.

Statement of Cesia Kearns, Regional Representative
for the Sierra Club’s Coal Free Oregon Campaign

“The Sierra Club supports the Department of Environmental Quality’s recent recommendation to deny Portland General Electric’s petition to subvert pollution controls for PGE’s Boardman coal-fired power plant.

PGE’s proposal to burn coal for another decade is unnecessarily long, and its hope to operate for yet another decade without installing required controls for air pollution is not the right choice for Oregon.  We are pleased that the DEQ recognizes the importance of holding PGE accountable for burning coal without modern pollution controls for more than 30 years — releasing staggering amounts of haze, mercury and acid-rain-causing pollution into the air every hour it’s been in operation.  Furthermore, we appreciate that the DEQ has listened to the thousands of public comments requesting that they take Oregonian’s health and air quality seriously by looking at reasonable phase-out date for the plant that still addresses pollution concerns.

The DEQ has told PGE that in order to keep the plant running past 2014; it must spend hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce pollution that is marring Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge and our national parks and wilderness areas. The cost of these pollution controls ultimately will be passed on to PGE’s customers, which makes an earlier closure date for Boardman more desirable for our health, environment, and pocketbooks.

PGE needs to get serious about phasing out Oregon’s only coal plant sooner rather than later. The company’s offer to consider closing the plant by 2020 comes with significant strings attached — namely that the plant would continue to operate out of compliance with the Clean Air Act for another decade – but the DEQ is telling them ‘not so fast’.  We applaud the DEQ for taking an important step in protecting Oregon’s health and environment.

The Sierra Club fully intends to participate in the DEQ process moving forward to ensure that further outcomes in this determination lead to an early closure date for the Boardman plant that does not compromise air quality standards and addresses regional haze in the fastest manner possible.  Anything less would be a disservice to Oregonian’s health, environment, and economy.”

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