Audubon, Sierra Club fight coal plant | Arkansas Blog

Monday, July 19, 2010

Audubon, Sierra Club fight coal plant

Posted By on Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 9:18 AM

Add Audubon Arkansas and the Sierra Club to those seeking a federal court order to halt construction of the American Electric Power coal-burning plant in Hempstead County.

It represents an immediate danger to wetlands and water, the petition says.


On Friday, July 16, 2010, the National Audubon Society, Audubon Arkansas, and the Sierra Club filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to halt the construction of the proposed 600 MW Turk coal fired power plant in Hempstead County.

The motion filed also requests an expedited hearing on the matter because the destruction of wetlands on the construction site makes it a situation of immediate danger.

Lev Guter, Associate Field Organizer with the Sierra Club, stated, “Without a temporary restraining order, the impairment or destruction of the wetlands and surrounding ecosystem will be irreparable. Not only does burning coal poison our drinking water and air, but even the construction of such coal fired plants destroys valuable water and wetland resources. Those resources are being destroyed as we speak and thus the immediacy of the situation warrants a restraining order.”

Ellen Fennell, Interim Director with Audubon Arkansas, stated, “The U.S. Corps of Engineers (USCOE) issued water permits to SWEPCO without due process of law. It totally frustrated any public participation whatsoever in the permitting process for Turk, thereby violating its own regulatory procedures. We ask the Court to issue a TRO and remand the case back to the USCOE with instructions to comply with federal laws.”

Sierra Club, Audubon Arkansas and the National Audubon Society filed for an injunction in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas, Texarkana Division to stop Southwestern Power Company’s construction of the proposed John W. Turk 600 MW coal-fired plant in Hempstead County. The plaintiffs are represented by Richard H. Mays of Mays & White law firm of Heber Springs.

SWEPCO’s proposed John W. Turk, Jr. coal-fired plant sits on 2,800 acres of previously forested land that contains wetlands. Adjacent to the plant site is the Little River, from which SWEPCO proposes to pump 6,500 gallons per minute of water which is 10% of the river’s minimum flow. Also adjacent to the plant site are thousands of acres of some of the most valuable and ecologically sensitive areas in the state, including the Grassy Lake area which is widely recognized as one of the most outstanding examples of virgin Cyprus swamp existing.

The plant, already under construction, would cost upwards of $2 billion as well as contribute to climate change through releasing millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Turk’s construction not only would destroy 8 acres of highly ecologically valuable wetlands, but would also fill in 8,150 feet of stream.

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