The Sierra Club gave Luminant Generation Company, downtown-based and one of Texas's biggest power suppliers, notice Thursday that it plans to sue them for thousands of alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at two of its coal-fired power plants in northeast Texas.
According to environmental law organizations Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project, Luminant's Big Brown plant near Fairfield; its Monticello plant near Mount Pleasant; and its Martin Lake Plant near Tatum (sued last year by the Club) are responsible for 25 percent of the state's industrial pollution and 46 percent of its pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Suma Peesapati, an Earthjustice staff attorney, tells Unfair Park they relied on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's own data for the number of violations they found.
"These monitoring reports were sent to TCEQ," she said. "They're clearly labeled deviations, so there is no dispute they've exceeded their limits frequently and dramatically. TCEQ hasn't done anything, so that's why we got involved."
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The pollution limits Peesapati cites are for opacity, meant to curb the emission of soot from smokestacks. This kind of particulate has been tied to heart and lung illness. The Big Brown and Monticello plants, the Sierra Club says the data shows, have violated opacity limits 38,000 times in the last five years.
"They get 60 days to correct the violations and come to some settlement with us," Preesapati says.
This isn't the first time these plants have come under attack for being big polluters. An investor and former New York State Comptroller said the plants were dirty and, on top of that, struggling to remain solvent after Luminant attained them through its purchase of TXU. EIP and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the Martin Lake plant back in September 2010 for the same air quality violations.
We haven't heard back from Luminant yet, but we'll update when we do.