FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2012
Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-460-5838
Jen Peterson, Environmental Integrity Project, 202-263-4449
Environmental Groups Applaud First Closing of Modern Coal Plant in Maryland in a Generation
Groups who sued over heavy-polluting R. Paul Smith power plant in Washington County say Maryland children and the environment are big winners
TAKOMA PARK, MD – Two groups who recently sued in Maryland court to clean up the historically high-polluting R. Paul Smith power plant in Washington County are applauding news today of the plant’s complete shutdown planned for later this year. The aging 110-megawatt power plant, owned by First Energy, Inc., is responsible for emitting over two thousand of tons of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide and over two hundred thousand tons of carbon dioxide in recent years, and now represents the first utility-scale modern coal-fired power plant to shut down over pollution concerns in at least a generation in Maryland. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide contribute to fine particle pollution known to cause premature death and mortality, and nitrogen oxide pollution contributes to smog and nutrient overloading in the Chesapeake Bay.
Since 2010, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Environmental Integrity Project had been leading regulatory and legal challenges to the plant in Maryland.
“First Energy made a responsible decision to retire an old and dirty power plant,” said Jen Peterson, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, which with CCAN sued last February over the plant’s non-compliance with state environmental laws. “Shutting down the R. Paul Smith plant opens the door for clean energy sources and cleaner air and water for Maryland communities.”
The plant, built in 1947, did not comply with Maryland’s 2006 “Healthy Air Act” and had been put under intense pressure to clean up or close down by local citizens and environmental groups. The plant is one of six aging power plants in three states to be shut down by First Energy by September 1st 2012 due to an inability to meet new federal and state environmental standards. In addition to EIP and CCAN, both the state chapter and national office of the Sierra Club have campaigned for the shut down of dirty coal-fired plants. In September, the GenOn corporation announced it would close later this year the 485 megawatt “Potomac River Plant,” a coal-fired power plant in Alexandria, VA.
“This is a victory both for children’s lungs and for efforts to fight climate change in Maryland,” said Mike Tidwell, CCAN director. “One less plant that burns dirty coal is one more step toward a real energy solution that includes wind and solar and energy efficiency.”