Residents of Georgia and clean air advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief on Monday as LS Power, a New Jersey-based power company, announced that it will cancel plans to build a new coal-fired power plant in the southwestern part of the state.
The proposed Longleaf Energy Station in Blakely, Georgia, was the target of a 10 year-long campaign by the Sierra Club, Friends of the Chattahoochee, GreenLaw, and thousands of Americans who believe every human has the right to breathe clean air. If built, the plant would have emitted 88 pounds of toxic mercury per year, 1938 pounds of lead per year, and more than 8000 tons of soot and smog per year, to Georgia’s atmosphere and water system.
The announcement comes as part of a nationwide agreement between LS Power and the Sierra Club that requires the company to abandon its proposed Plum Point 2 coal plant in Arkansas and imposes strict new limits on air pollution from the new Sandy Creek coal plant in Texas. The agreement also requires the company to withdraw all requests for permits in Georgia and Arkansas, and that any issued permits be rescinded or revoked.
Longleaf was one of the very first plants proposed when, in 2001, the coal industry attempted to block clean energy development by building more than 150 new coal plants across the US, a move which would have effectively locked the nation into dependence on coal-fired electricity for the foreseeable future.
Over the past decade, LS Power tried to move forward with the coal plant several different times, but on each occasion local residents aided by the Sierra Club stood strong in their opposition. The resistance utilized several tactics, including a call-in day over the summer during which more than 250 Georgians called LS Power asking the CEO to cancel the proposal.
“This is not just a victory for the individuals and organizations fighting this plant, but also for all Georgians, who are now safe from a major new source of toxic air pollution,” said Colleen Kiernan, Director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “This victory represents our best work: combining the power of the courts, the power of the people and the power of the press.”
This victory marks the 160th proposed coal plant canceled since Sierra Club launched its Beyond Coal campaign in 2002.