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Power Plant Comment Period Begins Today

February 16, 2009

Tama, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources today begins a month-long public comment period on a proposed 649 megawatt coal plant that Alliant Energy has proposed near Marshalltown. Among the groups opposing the new electric generation facility is Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, whose executive director, Tim Fink, says they're concerned with the draft air quality permit that was approved by the DNR. He says the permit falls short when it comes to monitoring for fine particles, lead, mercury, and greenhouse gases.

"It's a moral issue, because the country, the people, the places that suffer the most because of global warming are the ones that have contributed the least to the problem. When we look at the Marshalltown coal plant, there's no sort of regulation at all of greenhouse gas emissions. We're at a time when all around the world countries are desperately trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, yet now Iowa stands on the verge of going in the very opposite direction."

The Iowa Utility Board is requiring coal industry officials to build in safer clean-air technology at the plant, as such technology becomes available. However, opponents like Mary McBee, who lives 15 miles southwest of the site in Tama, are troubled because they feel the DNR permits don't go far enough to protect residents. She's most concerned about the long-term health of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who all live nearby.

"I do have grandchildren that have respiratory problems. My family is also part of the Meskwaki tribe where diabetes is a big problem, and that also is affected by fine particulate matter. And there's nothing in the permits about monitoring fine particulate matter in Marshalltown. So, I think we need to be a lot more careful about what's going on, and require a lot more controls."

McBee is hopeful the DNR will extend their one-month comment period to 90 days. She says more needs to be known about what constitutes safe levels of emissions from the plant and how those levels will be monitored by the state.

David Law/Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA