Tenaska Holds Open House


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By Joe Starkey | August 1, 2010

A conversation with Mr. Kunkel, Tenaska VP, went the way most of the reported conversations with their officials went. I asked him if Tenaska had studied the effects of the toxic chemicals in the fly ash they plan to sell for gypsum, wall board and other construction projects, to see if there might be a long term effect similar to asbestos which the world has spent the last 50 years trying to get out of our homes and offices. He immediately stated that “You can’t have it both ways. Either we are polluting or we are capturing the toxins to sell later.” He would never let go of that point even after I used words of one and two syllables to explain that he was doing both. Some would be discharged if their requested permit for discharge in the Big Country is approved and some will be in the fly ash they plan to sell. He just kept repeating that we couldn’t have it both ways instead of answering the question. MCC members reported much the same way of answering questions that Tenaska did not want to answer – even one on one.{{more}}Their “Open House” carefully isolated people with questions so that large numbers of people could not learn from them at the same time or watch them carefully evade answering. It was a carefully orchestrated show designed to show off their message; the message that Tenaska is benevolent. They are powerful, expert, world-class, environmentallyHelen Manroe of Tenaska meets a guest. Photo by Joe Starkey responsible, splendidly connected, and rich. What blue-collar town wouldn’t want a benefactor like that? Sweetwater had about as many turning out to listen as there was to protest. Also, despite the fact that there has never been a threat or disturbance at any of the meetings, Tenaska insured that there was a large presence of Sweetwater Police Officers and large male city employees to keep the peace.Trailblazer plant and Tenaska are bad for the Abilene economy Abilene needs to stop talking about the Tenaska Trailblazer plant as an economic boomto this region. Just looking at the mercury pollution from this plant shows how much it would cost us. A child living in the toxic footprint of a coal plant is 2% more likely to suffer from Autism. The cost per Autistic child to the community is estimated to be $3,200,000.00 over the lifetime of that child. Those figures are part of the findings in the first study to comprehensively survey and document the costs of autism to U.S. society. Michael Ganz , Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, authored the study. An increase of only one autistic child would eat up 7years of water income from this plant. Current figures from Region 14 show almost 200 children being treated for Autism. A 2% increase per year over the next 50 years would mean Abilene paying for an additional 300 children with Autism who would not have, in the normal course of events, been affected. This would cost us approximately TEN BILLION dollars over the life of theplant. In the five years of construction – those 1500 workers would fill most, if not all, of the local hotels. We could not host the events at the Civic Center or those at the Expo Center for those five years as the people would not have a place to stay. After five years of not coming to Abilene – it is highly unlikely that those events would return. We can expect planned eventsJohn Uphoff of Fluor talks to Ed Enzor and Mike Saddler. Photo by Joe Starkeysuch as the National Cushman Club scheduled for June 2013 to cancel. They are projected to bring 1200 people to Abilene for 4 days and bring in over $650,000.00 to Abilene. You can expect the roping events that come many of the summer weeks to depart and never return. I just counted over 35 events scheduled at the Expo Center in the next six months that cannot be held ifthe hotels are full. Graduation weekend always sees hotels as far away as Clyde full. How can you expect a parent to send their child to a college where they can’t come visit them for the weekends? This plant would be bad economic news for Abilene. Also Tenaska proudly states that they manage the power distribution for more than 60% of the wind farms in Texas. How can it not be a major conflict of interest for them to be building a coal fired electric plant that would directly compete with those wind farms for transmission lines?Still interested in all those jobs that Tenaska is promising? You need to go to www.cvillenews.com and search for Tenaska. There you will see that Tenaska made people in Illinois the same promises and then contracted outside contractors without even giving the local contractors a chance to bid on the work. Don’t believe a word anyone from Tenaska says unless they put it in writing under a forfeiture bond. Joe Starkey is a photojournalist for the West Texas Tribune. His parents’ home have their south fence as Tenaska’s north fence. His 200 acres, where he learned to fish, hunt and care for cows, are about 3 miles north of Tenaska.