Colin Durrant, CLF Director of Communications
Boston, MA (January 7, 2008) – In a late night decision last Friday, the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced he would allow a coal fired power plant to backtrack on its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas pollutants by adopting experimental coal gasification technology. Disappointed environmentalists called the announcement “deeply disturbing,” noting that it goes against the advice of the nation’s leading climate change scientist Dr. James Hansen.
“This decision allows a multi-national energy company to backtrack on its commitment to reduce global warming pollution and is a step backward in our state’s leadership on climate change,” said Shanna Vale, a Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) staff attorney. “Instead of adopting projects that will allow coal plants to continue releasing greenhouse gas emissions, we should be encouraging innovative solutions that reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels and create a clean energy future.”
The Commonwealth’s decision came in response to a petition filed by CLF requesting a full-scale environmental review to assess the impact of NRG’s proposal on greenhouse gas emissions and impact on global warming. Clean Water Action, the Toxics Action Center and Environment Massachusetts had sent letters in support of the petition.
Under the state’s “Filthy Five” regulation meant to cut down on the region’s global warming pollution, the coal-fired Somerset Station, located in Somerset, MA, is scheduled to shut down or be re-powered with cleaner emissions by 2010. Instead of fulfilling that promise, Somerset Power LLC, owned by NRG Energy, the tenth largest American power company, plans to retrofit its fifty year old boiler to a plasma gasification process which breaks down coal into its component parts before converting it into energy.
The company claims it will mitigate carbon dioxide emissions by burning biomass that includes construction and demolition waste – which risks release of dangerous toxics — or in the future by capturing and storing the carbon. Carbon capture and storage is not viable in New England.
The Conservation Law Foundation works to solve the environmental problems that threaten the people, natural resources and communities of New England. CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to design and implement strategies that conserve natural resources, protect public health, and promote vital communities in our region. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. It has offices in Boston, Massachusetts; Concord, New Hampshire; Providence, Rhode Island; Montpelier, Vermont; and Brunswick, Maine.