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What's Happening With Coal


Utah Supreme Court Rejects Permit for Coal-burning Plant: A Victory for Utah

SevierCountyThe Sevier Power Company’s proposed 270-megawatt coal plant looks less likely to be built after the Utah Supreme Court overturned the plant’s air permit last Friday.  Ruling on two separate cases, one presented by Western Resource Advocates and another by local citizens, the Court found that the initial air permit should not have been issued because it would not provide adequate protection to Utah residents from the plant’s pollutants.

The Utah Division of Air Quality, the permitting agency, was so lax in its approval process that a key piece of its evidence was a Post-it note written by one of its staff saying the proposal was in compliance.

The Court rebuffed this shoddy evaluation in its decision saying,

“A record limited to a Post-it note indicating that someone was contacted
regarding a review is woefully inadequate to convince a reasonable
person that a review took place, let alone that the review was sufficiently
rigorous …”

"Today, Utah residents won a large public health victory – one that could not be undone by a small Post-it note,” said Joro Walker, Western Resource Advocates’ attorney in the case. “The air we breathe is protected, for now, by the Court’s wise decision.”

This victory is great news for the high mountain valley in Sevier County, Utah where the plant was to be located.  The proposed plant had no customers for its power and faces strong local opposition.

This ruling may mean the end of this coal plant proposal. The Sevier Power Company and its parent company NEVCO Energy, LLC are now considering whether or not they will reapply for an air permit.  The company would likely be required to use less polluting  technology, but considers cleaner technologies too expensive. See the press release here.

"Beyond Coal" Film Released

"Beyond Coal" is a film that tells the stories of residents in Utah, Nevada, Montana, Nevada to are standing up to proposed new coal plants in their communities. Facing the very real threats of toxic, air, polluted water, and other negative effects on their communities, these citizens are bravely fighting against and industry determined to get its way -- and winning. See these uplifting stories on the "Beyond Coal" page.

Coal out at Montana's Highwood Plant

The state of Montana has finally pulled the air-quality permit for a proposed coal-fired plant that was to be built near Great Falls. The Highwood Generating Station ended up lacking financial backers, customers, and an economic upside, driving plant proponents to finally ask the state to rescind their air pollution permit. The air permit was the last vestige of the original plant proposal. Plans are afoot to change the coal plant concept into a new proposal for a smaller natural gas-fired generating station.

The video below, filmed prior to the demise of the Highwood proposal, shows the passionate opposition the project encountered within Montana.

More information on developments surrounding the Highwood Generating Station can be seen at the Montana Environmental Information Center web site.

posted 8/06/09

Utah's IPP #3 Plant Proposal Sunk

Utah's proposed IPP #3 coal plant has been scrapped by project proponents. The project's failure was caused by the plant's intended customers rejecting the use of coal as a source of energy and instead requesting clean reneawable energy to be the preferred source of power.

While a growing number of coal plant projects across the West have been postponed or dismissed altogether due to the changing economics of building new coal plants, the IPP #3 case marks another turning point for coal as the intended customers for the plant, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, stated a preference for cleaner sources of energy. The fate of other coal plant proposals hangs in the balance as energy consumers begin to specify their preference for renewable energy resources over construction of new coal plants.

A report on the the demise of the IPP #3 unit, featuring WRA's Jorro Walker, is provided by TV station KSL in Salt Lake City

Video Courtesy of

posted 7/09/09

WRA works with many groups on coal issues, including:

Use this website to find out about the damage caused by coal plants, why the West does not need more coal development and how we can move forward towards a cleaner, renewable future.

Using the links on the right side of the page, you can read about the damage caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the relationship between global climate change and coal plants, how coal plants affect parents, farmers, and ratepayers and much more. In addition, you will find contact information for local activist groups both spread throughout the website and concentrated under the Get Involved! link. Coal plants negatively affect all of us in different ways, and you can help to stop the coal rush by taking action in your region.