by David Ramsey
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution from power plants is clouding the skies at national parks and wilderness areas across the country and contributing to health problems for Arkansans.
Congress’s regional haze program aims to reduce that pollution. Under that program, if states don’t act, the EPA can step in to put together a plan.
The commonsense safeguards proposed by the EPA in April 2015 protect the Buffalo National River, Ouachita National Forest and Caney Creek Wilderness in Arkansas, as well as portions of the Mark Twain National Forest and the Mingo Wildlife Refuge in Missouri.
At the core of the EPA plan is a cut to emissions from some of Arkansas’s dirtiest smokestacks at the
Entergy White Bluff and Independence coal plants, largely by requiring these plants to install pollution
control equipment known as “scrubbers.” The EPA plan will be finalized by August 2016. Arkansas families regularly visit the Buffalo River —the country’s first national river—and other wild places in our state for hiking, camping, fishing and other recreation. Just as importantly, many small towns in Arkansas depend on the tourism these natural attractions bring to our communities.
Entergy has an important decision to make. It can continue to operate its two 1980s-era outdated plants, or it can help transition our state to cleaner forms of power. It’s time for Arkansas to get in the clean energy game and move to high-technology, renewable, homegrown energy solutions as many neighboring states already have.
My son — and every child in Arkansas — deserves to breathe healthy, clean air, and it’s time for Entergy to clean up its act. But clean air doesn’t need to be at the cost of affordable energy solutions. Rather than having Entergy’s customers — hardworking Arkansans — foot the bill to keep 35-year-old plants running, we hope the company will work with us toward a compromise plan that works for everyone.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Sierra Club today released the “2016 Arkansas Clean Air Solution,” a common sense and affordable plan to clean up dangerous air pollution from aging coal plants owned by Entergy Arkansas that outlines a solution to meet federal clean-air safeguards under the Regional Haze Rule. This rule is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and aims to clean up the air pollution in national wilderness areas and other federal lands largely caused by coal-fired power plants. The report can be seen online at https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/Arkansas-Clean-%20Air-Report.pdf
The EPA is set to finalize a regional haze plan for Arkansas in August. Under the EPA’s proposal, released in April 2015, Entergy’s Independence and White Bluff plants will be required to significantly reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide — a pollutant that is dangerous for those living near the plants at high levels and also causes haze at national parks. Often these reductions are met with pollution control technology known as “scrubbers,” and the cost of installing scrubbers at the plants would be paid for by Entergy’s customers. As an alternative to costly scrubbers, Entergy and other stakeholders can come together on a compromise plan just as other states across the country have done. Today’s release by the Sierra Club seeks to lay out such a plan.
“My son — and every child in Arkansas — deserves to breathe healthy, clean air, and it’s time for Entergy to clean up its act. But clean air doesn’t need to be at the cost of affordable energy solutions,” said April Lane, a Sierra Club volunteer and resident of Little Rock. “Rather than having Entergy’s customers — hardworking Arkansans — foot the bill to keep 35-year-old plants running, we hope the company will work with us toward a compromise plan that works for everyone.”
The Sierra Club report focuses on Arkansas’s two largest plants — Entergy Arkansas’s Independence and White Bluff coal plants, which have operated for more than three decades without modern pollution controls for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These pollutants contribute to haze at the Buffalo National River and Caney Creek Wilderness as well as cause health problems for Arkansans. Under the five-point plan laid out by the Sierra Club today, the company would gradually phase out operations at the plants and invest in renewable energy technology rather than pouring millions of dollars into scrubbers to keep the old plants running.
"The Sierra Club’s proposal is a pathway to a better future for The Natural State," said Glen Hooks, Director of the Sierra Club’s Arkansas chapter. "It’s time for Arkansas to get in the clean energy game and move to high-technology, renewable, homegrown energy solutions. Our plan eliminates the need to install costly updates to clean up Entergy’s dirty and outdated plants, saving customers money and helping support a clean energy economy."