STATUS: In progress with opposition
OPPOSITION: Sierra Club
BACKGROUND: In December 2008, Peabody Energy filed for a state air permit to build a coal gasification facility in Muhlenberg County. This location is the site of Peabody Energy’s proposed Thoroughbred coal power plant. The developers do not estimate construction costs, characterizing the project as a “multi-billion dollar” effort that will create 1,200 jobs during the four-year construction period, over 500 long-term, high paying jobs, and provide up to $100 million annually in local and state economic impact through wages, taxes and other benefits.
Local groups support the proposed project. However, it is being challenged by the Sierra Club and other special interest groups as part of a nationwide effort to prevent the use of coal for any purpose. These groups submitted comments to the Kentucky Division of Air Quality in April 2009 challenging the permit application. On August 5, Sierra Club sent a notice of intent to sue to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, demanding action against this project and two new proposed coal power plants, alleging that Kentucky's State Implementation Plan (SIP) failed to meet Clean Air Act requirements for new sources to demonstrate that nitrogen oxide emissions will not violate ozone air quality standards and requiring companies to notify the public about a project's impacts on air quality in surrounding wilderness and national parks. On August 26, Sierra Club sent a second notice letter to EPA urging the agency to prevent construction of a third coal power plant for the same reasons.
On April 9, 2010 the Kentucky Division for Air Quality issued a final permit. On May 7, the special interest groups petitioned for a hearing to contest the permit, contending the agency failed to set adequate emission limits, to consider the facility and the adjacent coal mine as a single source, and wrongfully classified the facility as a minor source of hazardous air pollutants. On July 20, the D.C. federal District Court dismissed Sierra Club's lawsuit against EPA. On September 1, the special interests appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals. The hearing on the permit challenge appears to have been completed on November 15, and a decision is pending.
LAST UPDATED: November 18, 2010