OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire has been a big advocate of curbing
global warming pollution in Washington with cleaner energy sources, but
at the state Capitol on Saturday, members of the Sierra Club and other
conservation groups will ask her to take the next step, and commit to a
coal-free Washington within the next five years. They'll hand over
thousands of postcards asking the governor to phase out the state's
only coal plant, in Centralia.
The Washington Department of Ecology has been in negotiations with the
plant's owner, TransAlta, although Ethan Bergerson, regional
representative for the Sierra Club Northwest, says neither side is
sharing the details with the public.
"We're not seeing a public process for this, and the negotiations so
far have been un-transparent. The public is incredibly concerned about
this issue. We're holding town hall meetings in order to give the
public a chance to find out more about this, and to have their voice
heard in the process."
Bergerson says more than 10,000 people have asked Gregoire to consider
closing the plant, but the negotiations about the plant's carbon
dioxide output have not included a public hearing or comment period.
The Saturday event includes a panel discussion and an announcement of a
series of town hall meetings about the TransAlta plant.
In the Sierra Club's most-recent poll, Bergerson says, 72 percent of
Washingtonians said their primary concerns about the plant are
"TransAlta's our largest source of toxic mercury pollution. Coal
pollution has been linked to cancer, heart attack, stroke and lung
disease - four of America's top five causes of premature death."
The Ecology Department has said TransAlta is installing mercury
reduction technology to cut those emissions in half by 2012, and has
plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025.