Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Calls for Early Closure, Strong Air Quality Standards for PGE’s Boardman Plant

(Portland, OR)— The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today released new proposed options for the future of Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Boardman coal-fired power plant to comply with state air quality standards and still accommodate an early transition.  As Oregon’s largest stationary source of pollution, including acid rain, haze, and smog, as well as climate-disruption-causing carbon dioxide, environmentalists and public health advocates have been pushing for the earliest reasonable transition off coal-fired power at the Boardman plant. The DEQ put forth a series of options for shut-down dates and pollution control investments that could reduce air pollution at the plant in the interim.  The Sierra Club issued the following statement concerning the new information from DEQ:

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

The options DEQ has proposed demonstrate clearly that PGE can and should phase-out their dirty and dangerous Boardman coal-fired power plant earlier than the 2020 they are currently proposing.  We already know that it is better for public health and the environment in Oregon if Boardman is phased out soon.  The options offered by DEQ today further detail how it will also be cheaper to phase the plant out sooner than PGE is currently considering.  DEQ’s announcement gives us confidence that there is indeed a workable solution that will phase out Boardman while protecting ratepayers and improving air quality in the short term.

The fact that hundreds of people showed up at last week’s Public Utility Commission hearing regarding Boardman, shows that people understand the serious public health and air quality implications of keeping Boardman open and that there is overwhelming public demand calling for the earliest reasonable transition date for the polluting plant.

These options, however, are not the end of the road in determining the best resolution to Boardman.  In addition to meeting the regional haze requirements that today’s proposed options will meet, PGE must comply with other parts of the Clean Air Act with which they do not currently conform, including new federal air toxics standards, and the company must take action to remedy the violations of the law identified in a citizen’s suit currently pending in federal court.  DEQ’s proposal is just one step on the way to a resolution for Boardman.

We applaud the DEQ for proposing options which show the best path forward for PGE rate-payers and all who live and breathe in Oregon.  We are additionally pleased that the DEQ is fulfilling its mandate to uphold the law as PGE’s attempts to once again avoid adequately controlling pollution at the Boardman plant.  This is positive and important progress on the way to a cleaner, healthier and safer coal-free future in Oregon.

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