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Coal Plant Cancelled; Meet our Heroes
April 2012


Proposed Ben Hill Coal Plant Cancelled

Power4Georgians in Tenuous Position on Plant Washington After Legal Agreement

Georgians won a victory this month when Power4Georgians (P4G), the only company trying to develop expensive new coal plants in Georgia, agreed to cancel the proposed Ben Hill coal-fired power plant.  The company also agreed to comply with critical new safeguards against mercury pollution and invest $5 million in energy efficiency and renewable projects. The Sierra Club, the Fall Line Alliance for a Clean Environment (FACE), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center and GreenLaw, successfully challenged the permit for Plant Washington issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and the settlement agreement is pending approval by each group. 

As a result of the settlement agreement, if built, Power4Georgians’ Plant Washington will have to meet the much more protective emission standards for mercury and other air toxins. 

Local citizens in Ben Hill County were thrilled with the news. 

“This is a day to celebrate. Plant Ben Hill would have been deeply detrimental to Ben Hill County and south Georgia,” said Laura Norris, a founding member of the Wiregrass Energy Network, a citizens group opposing Plant Ben Hill. “It would have created very few permanent jobs while polluting water and air and harming health for many years.”    

“The cancellation of Plant Ben Hill is just one more sign that coal is dead,” said Justine Thompson, attorney for GreenLaw. “Georgia has a promising future – but to be a serious player in the global economy while also ensuring that we have clean air and water, Georgia needs to embrace energy efficiency and more renewable sources of energy.  We are now moving one step closer to that goal.” 

Plant Washington now faces its steepest challenge yet, as EPA recently announced the carbon pollution rule for new coal-fired power plants, which will require new coal plants to reduce or capture their harmful carbon emissions. Power4Georgians had not considered carbon capture technology in the original Plant Washington proposal. In the rule, EPA identified Plant Washington as a potential “transitional” source whereby it could be exempt from the rule if there is a final permit and construction commences within a year of when the rule is published. The carbon pollution rule is expected to be published later in April. 

The cancellation of Plant Ben Hill marks 168 total coal plant proposals cancelled across the US due to changing market conditions, legal challenges, and local opposition. In December 2011, New Jersey-based LS Power cancelled the Plant Longleaf coal plant proposal, which would have been built in Early County, GA. Further, 106 coal plants across the country have been scheduled for retirement, including two units at Plant Branch near Milledgeville that were recently approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Our 2012 Environmental Heroes

SAVE THE DATE! Join us in celebrating our Environmental Heroes on October 19, 2012. 

Congressman John Lewis is this year’s recipient of Congressman John LewisGreenLaw’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Representative Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. Over his career, Congressman Lewis has been at the forefront of proposed legislation to promote environmental justice, public health, and pollution reduction efforts. In 2011, he was one of the few from the Georgia Congressional delegation to oppose regulations weakening the Clean Air Act. Rep Lewis’ willingness to speak out for our environment gave him a perfect score in the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) 2011 National Environmental Scorecard. He was the only member of the entire House and Senate Georgia delegation to receive the top ranking. 

Justine ThompsonJustine Thompson will receive The Ogden Doremus Award for Excellence in Environmental Law. It is fitting for Justine to receive the award as Ogden Doremus helped bring Justine onto the GreenLaw team and remained her mentor and friend until his death in 2007. Justine served over 12 years as GreenLaw’s Executive Director until April 2012 when she stepped down and moved to Florida to be with her family. She continues to work with GreenLaw as a Senior Attorney from her home office in Orlando, Florida. 

NewFields is this year’s recipient of GreenLaw’s Environmental Hero Award. NewFields is an international firm of environmental experts in the fields of engineering, life sciences and environmental medicine headquartered in Atlanta. NewFields is that rare firm that represents Fortune 500 industries but provides countless hours of critical expertise to nonprofit environmental organizations working to protect public health and the environment. NewFields' pro bono work with GreenLaw includes providing the technical expertise to develop a report, entitled “Health, Environmental and Quality of Life Impacts” that focused on the environmental threats facing the Newtown community in Gainesville, Georgia. NewFields also provided all the technical support for “The Patterns of Pollution: A Report on Demographics and Pollution in Metro Atlanta” that provided the most comprehensive study of demographic and pollution data in a metropolitan Atlanta study to date.


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Celebrating 20 Years of Protecting the Environment

The Doremus Award will be presented to Justine Thompson at our Environmental Heroes Celebration on October 19, 2012.  At this year’s celebration, GreenLaw will mark 20 years of protecting Georgia's families and the environment. To learn more about the event or for sponsorship opportunities, contact Stephanie Stuckey Benfield.

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