The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Doug Howell, Sierra Club, 206-450-6654

Brian Smith, Earthjustice, 510-550-6714

Washingtonians Demand 'Coal to Green by 2015'

Coordinated rallies statewide take on dirty coal plant


A coalition of
conservation, faith, and public-health organizations, including the
Sierra Club's Coal Free Washington campaign, Earth Ministry,
Earthjustice, the National Parks Conservation Association and Physicians
for Social Responsibility,
hosted a coordinated series of events this morning, calling attention to
Washington state's largest single source of pollution, TransAlta
Corp.'s dirty coal-fired power plant in Centralia.

People rallied in Seattle and Vancouver this morning and further
events are scheduled in Spokane and Lacey this evening, to urge the
state to make TransAlta take responsibility for the serious harm the
plant does to Washington's air and water, and thus
public health. The coal plant is Washington's leading source of global
warming, toxic mercury and nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution.
"This dirty, old coal plant has polluted the air of our cherished
national parks and harmed our health for too long," said Janette Brimmer
for Earthjustice. "On this Day of Action let's redouble efforts to hold
TransAlta accountable for its unsafe pollution
affecting citizens and their children, and demand that it stop
threatening our incredible natural resources."
Haze from the plant's nitrogen oxide pollution mars and blocks
views of treasured national parks and wilderness areas. These NOx
emissions will be the subject of a public hearing scheduled for tonight
in Lacey, at which the Department of Ecology will take
input on a proposed plan to address haze pollution.
"Federal and state authorities project that under Washington's
regional haze plan, air pollution will increase -- not decrease -- over
the next decade, especially in protected areas including North Cascades
National Park and Glacier Peak Wilderness," said
National Parks Conservation Association regional director Sean Smith.
"The state must ask for a reasonable and necessary 90-percent reduction
in haze pollution. Anything less would make no difference."
In addition to damaging air quality and the environment, TransAlta's dirty coal plant threatens public health.
"Nitrogen oxide emissions cause respiratory problems such as
asthma, emphysema and bronchitis," said Dr. Steven Gilbert, who chairs
Washington State Physicians for Social Responsibility. "They aggravate
existing heart disease and damage lung tissue.
They even contribute to premature death."
As the last remaining coal-fired power plant in Washington, the
Centralia facility is the primary focus of the Sierra Club's Coal Free
Washington campaign, which has fought to hold TransAlta accountable for
its harmful pollution.
"Sept. 28, 2010, will be seen as major milepost in the TransAlta
pollution saga," said Sierra Club senior campaign representative Doug
Howell. "People across state have said 'enough is enough.' This
corporation continues to enjoy a state tax subsidy even
though the reason for the subsidy no longer exist. It secured a weak
agreement on reducing its toxic mercury. Now TransAlta wants a nitrogen
oxide standard that will actually make haze worse! TransAlta needs to
know that we will protect our people and parks,
not its pollution profits."
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Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.