In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The US’ last new coal plant proposal, in Georgia, is dead.
  • The EPA refuses to tighten air quality standards despite the pandemic.
  • How a conservative coal county built the biggest community solar energy project in East Kentucky.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

No more new US coal

The Plant Washington coal project, which would have cost more than $2 billion, has been denied a request for additional time to begin construction by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

The 12-year-long project was the last proposed new coal power plant project in the United States. It would have produced the annual carbon pollution equivalent of about 1 million cars.

The Sierra Club, the Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Altamaha Riverkeeper, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy challenged the plant’s original water and air permits and repeatedly fought requests for permit extensions.

Katherine Cummings of the Washington County-based Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment said:

I am thankful for the EPD’s decision so we can move on from this outdated and unnecessary project. Plant Washington posed a threat to family budgets, community health, and natural resources in and beyond Middle Georgia. It’s certainly a moment of closure and relief that this polluting giant will never be built.

EPA fails to improve air quality standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it will not work to lower levels of particulate matter, thus not further reducing air pollution, despite the recommendations of its own scientists to do so.

As Electrek reported last week, a Harvard University study at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, updated on April 5, confirmed a direct correlation between long-term exposure to air pollution and a higher coronavirus death rate.

Under the Clean Air Act, particulate matter is among dangerous air pollutants covered by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which the EPA is required to review once every five years. But the last review was completed in 2012 — they’re three years late.

Under the current standard, there are an estimated 52,100 premature deaths a year. The EPA’s own analysis by staff scientists showed that strengthening the standard by 25% could save 12,500 lives a year.

Solar comes to Kentucky coal country

US research group Brookings is running the Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking’s “Placemaking Postcards” blog series, which “aims to inspire public, private, and civic sector leaders to make transformative place investments that generate widespread social and economic benefits.” There is a particular focus on inclusive economic growth and development.

Ben Fink, lead organizer for Performing Our Future, Appalshop/Roadside Theater, wrote an article titled, “How a conservative coal county built the biggest community solar energy project in East Kentucky.”

You can read the entire article here, but here’s an excerpt:

Bringing solar to coal country was risky. Coal had been king for generations, and there was plenty of propaganda accusing solar supporters of siding with ‘elite, anti-coal activists.’ It would have been easy to assume ‘the community’ would oppose the project — except for the fact that the community was the one running it. One Culture Hub leader surveyed the coal miners in her neighborhood and reported, ‘Every one of them said something like — “Honey, the train’s pulled out and it looks like this solar thing could benefit all of us.”‘

This work is not about changing residents’ political views. It’s about neighbors coming together across differences to create a new story about the place we all live in and love. To some, it’s a story about saving the planet. To others, it’s about saving money or fighting an energy company. But to everyone, it’s about supporting our communities and the centers that keep them strong.

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