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Angry Citizens form Multi County Commission to Fight Coal Plant

By Joe Starkey



First and foremost – No matter what Federal Standards the TENASKA Sweetwater Coal Plant meets – They will add over 100 pounds of Mercury per year, over 2,000 TONS of Sulfuric Acid per year, over 1800 TONS of Nitrous Oxides per year and 1,000 TONS of particulate matter. They will take over one million and possibly ten million gallons of water PER DAY from an area frequently in drought conditions.{{more}}The citizens who own and live on the land that will be contaminated truly do not care about the millions of tax dollars the plant would bring but fear for their livelihood as the contamination damages crops, ranch animals and the wildlife that has become the second largest industry in Texas. They also fear for their very lives and the land that many have owned for generations.I own two hundred acres about three miles from the proposed plant. I learned to hunt and fish there and it is simply a great place to sit on the bank of the stock tank and watch the clouds, deer, turkey and quail go by. Not so great when the hogs come by but they are still a part that can be destroyed by this plant.January 11th saw the first meeting after the Nolan County Commissioners tried to push through a tax abatement of the citizens. That meeting filled the room with standing room only with everyone speaking opposed and the tax abatement was postponed. The Multi County Commission was formed as Eskota residents found support from citizens from Nolan County, Fisher County and Taylor County. Mr. David Hall became the spokesperson for the group. We invited volunteers from organizations that fight coal plants to help us learn how to fight. One point made was that the mercury and acid gas has caused fences and metal roofs within ten miles of a plant to collapse. They also told us that once the plant is built – all promises go out the window because the fine for not complying is less than the cost of properly disposing the waste The following Tuesday members met with the Sweetwater Water Board and were basically ignored as they stated approval for the plant.January 12th members meet with the Fisher County Commissioners and were told by the presiding Judge “This will affect our quality of life that we now enjoy.”January 22nd the Trent City Council called for an information meeting and over 100 attended. The majority were hostile to the manager from TENASKA with a couple of people in support for the jobs and tax money. One person summed up the presentation by saying “You hope?, You believe?, and you don’t know and have made no commitments whatsoever.” The manager left after one person stated that the company lied about the purpose they would use the land when buying , lied that they don’t know where they are trying to get the water and lied about putting the CO2 emissions in the air quality permit.The meeting went on for more than an hour after that with all media representatives except me leaving when the manager left.One point to worry about. TENASKA says they will build a modern lined waste pit and there is no chance of a break like that in Tennessee where 45 miles is completely covered with this waste. But they expect to sell the waste with captured Mercury, acids and other toxic materials to gypsum plants to put in your walls, to state and local highway crews to put in your ground water.The next meeting of the MCC will be the Sunday after the Super Bowl at Tara on the Square in Sweetwater.

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The West Texas Tribune is a community-based newspaper that has been published, uninterrupted, since May 2005. Our goal is to highlight events and people throughout West Texas as an independent, locally run newspaper. We thrive on the support of our local community.

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