ATLANTA — A Georgia state court recently rejected Georgia’s air quality permit for Plant Washington, a proposed 850 mega-watt coal-fired power plant in Sandersville. According to the ruling, the state permit for the Plant Washington violated Clean Air Act safeguards to limit harmful air pollution.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division must reconsider its permit after the court found it failed to set safe limits on harmful emissions from the plant, including dozens of hazardous air pollutants that can cause cancer, birth defects, heart disease, developmental disorders and other serious injuries.
Plant Washington is a project of Power4Georgians, a company organized by Cobb Electric Membership Corporation, three other EMCs from the metro-Atlanta area and Washington EMC in central Georgia.
GreenLaw and the Southern Environmental Law Center challenged the state air quality permit in court on behalf of the Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
“Throughout this case, the State took the untenable position that the Clean Air Act does not apply in Georgia,” said Kurt Ebersbach, a senior attorney with GreenLaw. “This decision affirms that it does apply and that EPD failed to follow its dictates in setting appropriate limits for the many hazardous air pollutants that this proposed coal plant would emit in large quantities.”
“The Plant Washington permit flouted basic Clean Air Act laws established to protect people and the environment from highly toxic air pollutants,” said John Suttles, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who argued the case before the court. “By holding this massive coal-burning plant to the letter of the law, today’s ruling is a landmark victory for clean air and the health of Georgia residents.”
“This ruling is an early Christmas present for our families,” said Chandra Brown, executive director, Ogeechee Riverkeeper. “We are thrilled that the judge ruled in favor of protecting the people who would be forced to breathe the hazardous air pollution from this proposed dirty coal plant. Now, if only the state environmental regulators would quit wasting tax payers’ money by defending permits that allow illegal levels of pollution, we will be celebrating happy New Year and progress for Georgia’s communities.”