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EPA Decision May Clean Up Plans for Florida Power Plant

February 18, 2009

Seminole Electric may have to clean up its plans for a coal power plant near Jacksonville, Florida. In what environmental groups are calling a major reversal of the Bush administration's policies, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, says she will reconsider regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act because of its effect on global warming. Environmental groups had petitioned for such reconsideration.

David Guest, managing attorney for Earthjustice, says this is also a vindication of their lawsuit that appealed the permit for the Seminole plant, based on a lack of sufficient pollution controls.

"This unplugs the midnight Bush administration effort to thwart regulation of carbon dioxide coming from coal plants and other sources. That has huge implications for Florida."

Guest says coal soot causes asthma and other respiratory ailments, and charges that the company is not planning to use the best available technology for pollution control, or the best grade of coal. He says the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has already granted Seminole Electric exemption from the state's filtration policies, because the company said the coal they use would 'muck up' a filtration system.

"It's a little shocking that DEP will exempt them from the filtration requirement because they use such filthy coal. Those are the kinds of things that have to change when you regulate carbon dioxide."

Guest says regulating carbon dioxide is the first step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. He says Florida's governor has been a leader in global warming efforts, and he hopes this gives him a new incentive.

"Now is the time when Governor Charlie Crist can take a hard look at the Seminole Electric permit and say, 'Well, maybe this thing needs to be taken back and looked at again, because the Clean Air Act does regulate carbon dioxide.'"

Seminole Electric argues that the power plant is needed to generate electricity for 10 distribution
stations, and that the permit is the result of a lengthy court battle already carried out.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL