Mountain True seeks signatures on petition for tighter standards for Asheville’s coal-burning plant

In light of the impending Title V air-permit renewal for Duke Energy’s Asheville coal-burning power plant, Mountain True is gathering signatures on an electronic petition asking the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency Board to revise the plant’s SO2 emission limit to reflect national health-based standards: 61.7 lb/hr for each coal-burning unit.

Here is text of the petition:

Western North Carolina, especially Asheville, has gained notoriety as one of the best places in the country to live, largely thanks to our area’s natural beauty and unprecedented outdoor recreation opportunities. Visitors and new residents alike are drawn to our community’s promise of friendly neighbors and clean mountain water and air.

However, the safety of both our water and air continue to be threatened by Duke Energy’s practices. It’s already been proven that Duke Energy is responsible for the toxic coal ash pollution that impairs the French Broad River–and we now know the company has for years been failing to operate its pollution control equipment fully at the Asheville coal plant.

This, combined with choosing to burn higher sulfur-content coal, has resulted in sulfur dioxide pollution at concentrations of as much as 3.5 times higher than  EPA’s health-based air quality standard.

The new draft permit contains the same woefully inadequate numeric emission limit for sulfur dioxide that have allowed this harmful pollution over the past few years–nearly 80 times higher than the limit necessary to attain EPA’s public health standard

Continuing to allow this kind of pollution puts our community at unacceptable risk and does not benefit our local economy. We need to hold Duke Energy accountable for its operations, and not allow the Asheville coal plant to mar our region’s precious natural resources.

I ask you and your fellow WNC Regional Air Quality Agency Board members to revise the SO2 emission limit included in the Asheville coal plant’s new air permit to reflect national health-based standards: 61.7 lb/hr for each coal-burning unit, equating to a plantwide average SO2 emission limit of 0.029 lb/MMBtu.

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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