Fifth Circuit Decision Finds Construction of Sandy Creek Coal Plant Unlawful

For Immediate Release


Claire Orphan

Fifth Circuit Decision Finds Construction of Sandy Creek Coal Plant Unlawful

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals: Texas Agency Unlawfully Failing to Protect People from Toxic Air Pollution

RIESEL, TX - The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday
that the Texas Commission on Environmentally Quality (TCEQ) unlawfully
approved the construction of the Sandy Creek coal plant in Riesel,

The Sandy Creek plant, which would be a major source of hazardous air
pollution including mercury- a potent neurotoxin, began construction
despite the fact that the proposed plant does not comply with the Clean
Air Act.  The Sierra Club and Public Citizen appealed the TCEQ approval,
which was overturned by the Fifth Circuit on Tuesday. 

The Sierra Club released the following statement in response to the Fifth Circuit’s announcement:

Statement of Eva Hernandez, Texas Field Organizing Manager, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality acted
irresponsibly by failing to require the Sandy Creek Plant to comply with
the Clean Air Act. This ruling shows that Texas agencies can’t
fast track permits and ignore laws that are put in place to protect
people. When these federal laws are ignored, it puts the public’s health
at risk.

"The pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants is dangerously
toxic and has been linked to four of the five leading causes of death in
the United States.  By allowing a plant to be constructed that does not
use readily available technology that will control as much pollution as
possible, the TCEQ not only endangered people living near the plant in
Texas, but also people living downwind from the plant in other states. 
Dangerous air pollution doesn’t observe state borders and common sense
federal laws like the Clean Air Act are essential to protecting people
from pollution from dirty and dangerous coal-fired power plants.

"The Sierra Club is very pleased that the Fifth Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled in favor of the law and in favor of protecting people from
air pollution.  It is very welcome news that the Sandy Creek coal plant
will not be allowed to jeopardize the health of people in Texas and
neighboring states."

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Please contact Claire Orphan at if you would like to receive a digital copy of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision.


The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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