'/> Uncommon Hours: August 2011
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

State Dept. Endorses Dirty Tar Sands Monstrosity

Washington, D.C. – Today the Obama Administration released its final Environmental Impact Statement on foreign oil corporation TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline to transport high corrosive and toxic tar sands oil through America’s heartland.

In response, Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, issued the following statement:

“The U.S. State Department’s final report on the Keystone XL today is an insult to anyone who expects government to work for the interests of the American people.

“Americans don't want a 2,000 mile-long toxic crude oil pipeline running through our heartland for the benefit of a foreign oil corporation and they don’t want another oil spill. TransCanada's proposed tar sands pipeline would threaten our most productive farmlands and the drinking water of millions of Americans. It would expose more Americans to cancer-causing carcinogens, and open the gates on the biggest source of carbon pollution in the northern hemisphere.
“The mathematics are simple but the stakes are incredibly high—the United States has nothing to gain from Keystone XL, and everything to lose.

“American innovation and technology are poised to deliver clean and safe energy solutions to power our economy, but we need corporate polluters like TransCanada to get out of our way. The Sierra Club and our 1.4 million members and supporters are looking to President Obama for bold action and we urge him to reject this abomination.”

The State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):

  • Fails to examine threats to the Ogallala Aquifer – a drinking water source for millions of Americans – and the Sandhills of South Dakota, despite numerous requests from U.S. Senators;
  • Ignores the effects of toxic pollution from corrosive tar sands refineries – cancer, asthma and heavy metal poisoning – on the millions of residents in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas and other cities;
  • Disregards the fact that there are no existing federal safeguards in place for the safe transport of tar sands crude oil, known as bitumen, one of the dirtiest and most dangerous forms of oil on Earth.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Groups Ask Kansas Supreme Court to Overturn Sunflower Coal Plant Permit

Topeka, Kan. - Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club, filed a brief in the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn the air pollution permit granted to Sunflower Electric to build a new coal-fired power plant near Holcomb, KS.

The coal plant has been the subject of a multi-year controversy after being denied a permit in the fall of 2007. On December 16, 2010, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) issued a new permit to Sunflower.

Read the brief here: http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/Sunflowerbrief.pdf

“When the federal Clean Air Act is violated, as is the case with the Sunflower permit, citizens can go to court to make things right,” said Stephanie Cole, representing the Kansas Sierra Club. “The Sunflower permit process was so completely hijacked by coal plant supporters that a citizen lawsuit became necessary.”

This proposed plant, that will largely serve Colorado, will emit massive amounts of air pollutants, including mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter on downwind Kansans. The plant will also rely on water from the declining Ogallala Aquifer.

The final permit was rammed through largely due to political pressure by the legislature and governor’s office even after KDHE received an unprecedented amount of public comments - nearly 6,000 public comments, many opposed to the project.

Todd True of Earthjustice said, “Kansans deserve clean energy and clean air. Despite numerous attempts by coal-boosters to push through this project, we believe the permit will not withstand the scrutiny of judicial review.”

The lawsuit claims that KDHE:

· Issued a permit that falls short of the minimum requirements of the Clean Air Act and will not adequately protect human health and the environment.
· Engaged in an improper procedure in the granting of the permit.
· Denied the public a fair opportunity to participate in the process by rushing through review of comments to allow the project to be permitted prior to new greenhouse gas regulations taking effect.
· Issued a permit without enforceable limits on nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide pollution.
· Did not require “best available control technology” be used, as required by law.
· Allowed weak pollution limits even on hazardous toxic air pollutants - the most harmful to human health - in order to save costs.