Montana DEQ Appeal

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Citizens for Clean Energy, Inc

Latest Update from the DEQ environmental Review Board on CCE/MEIC lawsuit:
Enforcement Division • Permitting & Compliance Division • Planning, Prevention & Assistance Division • Remediation Division

February 8, 2008

Today the Board voted to postpone its deliberations of the issue of whether the
Department properly made a BACT (best available control technology) determination for
small particulate (PM 2.5) for the SME power plant until its April 4 meeting. The Board
will request further briefs from the parties before April 4, and the Board will hear further
oral argument from the attorneys for the parties at the April meeting.

You can check on all happenings at the DEQ Board of Environmental Review website:




CONTACT: Anne Hedges, Montana Environmental Information Center (406) 443-2520
Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice (406) 586-9699
Jerry Taylor, Citizens for Clean Energy (406) 453-0725

HELENA, MT. Today, the Montana Environmental Information Center and Citizens for Clean Energy appealed the air permit for the Highwood Generating Facility, which is proposed just outside of Great Falls. The permit issued by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, would allow the conventional coal-burning plant to degrade local and regional air quality — and contribute to global warming.

The citizen groups’ appeal comes on the heels of an appeal of the same permit filed Friday by the Highwood coal plant’s own developer, Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative. “After all of SME’s talk about controlling its pollution, the first thing it did was demand permit changes so it can pollute more,” said Anne Hedges, program director of MEIC. “The permit is already inadequate to protect public health and the environment. SME would make the permit even worse.”

By the DEQ’s estimates, anticipated pollution from the Highwood plant would dramatically increase concentrations of fine particulate matter (known as PM2.5) that causes premature death, heart attacks, and asthma, among other serious cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. Cheryl Reichert, a physician and CCE-member explained, “We can’t afford to ignore the risks that these pollutants pose to people in our area, especially to the more vulnerable members of our communities … children, pregnant women, and senior citizens.”

Yet despite new federal rules, which have substantially tightened emissions standards for PM 2.5, the DEQ has failed to impose emissions limits, consider pollution controls, or even require monitoring for PM 2.5. According to Jerry Taylor of CCE, this is a fatal flaw in the air permit. “When the DEQ simply ignores a major public health issue, something is fundamentally wrong.”

The DEQ has also declined to impose any pollution control requirements on the Highwood coal plant in order to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide CO2, one of the greenhouse gases principally responsible for global warming. If built, the Highwood coal plant would emit 2.8-million tons of greenhouse gases, including 2.1-million tons of CO2
each year. “Montana can and should be a leader in the fight against global warming. Our state legislature just passed an exciting new initiative to require capture and sequestration of carbon,” said Anne Hedges, “but the DEQ is still doing business as usual and permitting old-style dirty plants when there are better, cleaner ways to meet our energy needs.”

“Ignoring CO2
and global warming is not just bad policy, it’s illegal,” said Abigail Dillen, an attorney with Earthjustice, who is representing the citizen groups. “The Supreme Court has made it clear that CO2 is subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. Now it’s time for the DEQ to do its part and require coal plants to install the best available technology to control CO2”