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EPA says Boardman Coal Plant Violates Clean Air Law


Thursday, October 7, 2010   

PORTLAND, Ore. - It's been the subject of plenty of protests and hearings, and now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the coal-fired power plant in Boardman is violating the Clean Air Act. The agency notified plant owner Portland General Electric (PGE) by letter.

It came as a surprise, even to groups that have long contended the plant is causing hazardous haze and acid rain in the Columbia Gorge. Cesia Kearns, regional representative for the Sierra Club in Portland, says PGE might now have to rethink its plan to keep the plant running until 2020.

"This move by the EPA is demonstrating that PGE's proposal to continue operating at these unacceptable levels is just simply irresponsible. It's time for PGE to stand up and make up for the mistakes of the past, and transition this plant as soon as possible."

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has been negotiating with PGE to try to close the Boardman plant sooner, but a final agreement has not been reached. Conservation groups say the state hasn't been tough enough, and are already in a lawsuit with PGE over the plant's air pollution.

Kearns isn't sure the letter trumps what's going on at the state level, although she sees it as an encouraging sign.

"While the EPA development does not have direct influence over the DEQ process right now, we can say that these actions are pointing out that PGE should not continue to operate Boardman without significant pollution reductions for an additional decade."

PGE has said it can make some pollution control retrofits to the plant, but others would not be cost-effective. The EPA's letter gives the company 30 days to meet with agency staff and outline the steps it will take to bring the plant into compliance.

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