Hot enough for you? | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hot enough for you?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 2:43 PM

It's gonna get hotter.

After a lengthy period of dithering, the Arkansas Department of, ahem, Environmental Quality has approved the air permit for the greenhouse gas-belching coal-fired power plant that SWEPCO wants to build down in Hempstead County.

UPDATE: Glen Hooks, local representative of the Sierra Club, weighs in.  Read his comments on the jump.

Comments from Glen Hooks of the Sierra Club:

"While state after state has rejected dirty coal and embraced clean energy sources, Arkansas has taken a step backward that puts our environmental and public health at risk. Our Governor's Commission on Global Warming got it right when it recently recommended rejecting coal-fired power plants for our state. Unfortunately, despite the incredible amounts of pollution that will occur, ADEQ has chosen to issue an air permit for the Turk plant."

"Literally thousands of Arkansans have called on Governor Beebe and the ADEQ to reject the Turk plant, and the Arkansas environmental community stands in unanimous opposition to its construction. This battle is not over. Expect that Sierra Club and our allies will use every tool in our arsenal and fight this plant until absolutely all avenues have been exhausted, up to and including legal challenges. The health of our citizens and the health of our environment demand nothing less."

            The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has approved a final air permit for construction and operation of a coal-fired electric power plant in Hempstead County. The permit, signed November 5, was issued to Southwest Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a unit of American Electric Power (AEP) for construction of the John W. Turk, Jr., generating plant near Fulton.

            The permit application had been under review by the ADEQ for more than two years, and was the subject of two public hearings and two separate public comment periods totaling more than three months, during which hundreds of interested parties offered comments on the proposed permit.

            “This is a complex and controversial permit application,” ADEQ Director Teresa Marks said. “It has undergone a lengthy review by technical and legal personnel to make sure the permit is protective of public health and the environment by conforming to all applicable air emission standards under state and federal laws.”

            The main steam generating unit consists of one ultra-supercritical pulverized coal boiler fueled by low sulfur coal and natural gas which will power a single steam turbine designed for base load operation with a nominal net power output of 600 megawatts. 

            The permit contains emission limits for such pollutants as particulates, sulfur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury. There are no limits in the permit for carbon dioxide (CO2), which currently is not subject to emission limits under federal or state regulations.

            However, the Turk plant design includes a 20-acre area for the inclusion of CO2 capture equipment, should future regulations impose CO2 emission limits.

            “It is quite possible CO2 emission standards will be adopted at the federal level and in Arkansas as well in a few years,” Marks noted. “The ADEQ and the operators of all permitted coal-fired electric plants in the state--as well as a variety of other industrial and commercial operations with significant CO2 emissions--are aware of this possibility and are already considering options to address the issue of CO2 emissions as quickly as possible once standards are in place.”

            Currently, Arkansas has six permitted coal-fired electric generating units; two near Redfield in Jefferson County, two near Batesville in Independence County, one near Gentry in Benton County, and one near Osceola in Mississippi County.

            A fact sheet with additional information about the Turk Plant permit is available on the ADEQ internet web site,, in the “Hot Topics” box on the right-hand side of the web site home page.


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