Several clean-air advocacy groups joined forces Tuesday in their continuing push to keep the proposed White Stallion coal plant from getting a permit.
And this time, they brought out the big guns: fear and death.
According to a new report released Tuesday in Houston by the No Coal Coalition, Sierra Club, Public Citizen and Air Alliance Houston, the proposed coal-fired power plant in Matagorda County could cause more than 600 deaths and more than $5.4 billion worth of damage to public health over the course of the plant's operating lifetime, estimated at 60 years. Another 1,070 people could have a heart attack linked to the plant's emissions and pollution, the study states.
"We've been saying since the beginning that there are massive costs associated with this plant," said Ryan Rittenhouse of Public Citizen. "It will harm and kill many people. And all the cost is born by the public and not by the company."
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The environmental groups and citizens of Matagorda County are fighting against a ticking clock as the TCEQ's commissioners are getting closer to deciding whether to issue the facility the required permits.
The next commissioners meeting concerning White Stallion is set for September 29, when the fate of the facility could be determined. Groups such as Public Citizen claim that if the permit is approved, the coal plant would be allowed to emit more than 9,000 tons per year of pollutants that have been linked to heart disease, lung disease and asthma.
Additionally, says Rittenhouse, the coal plant could lead to other hidden human costs, including an estimated 93,720 days of lost work and 552,730 days of reduced activity and productivity for Matagorda County residents, resulting in about a $42.9 million loss.
"Those behind White Stallion have touted that this plant would bring with it 'up to' 200 permanent jobs," said Allison Silva of the No Coal Coalition. "Why should we trade the early deaths of 600 people for 200 jobs? That amount of jobs in no way compares to the massive local health and economic devastation that White Stallion could bring."