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A retirement meriting simply celebration … goodbye Potomac River Coal Plant

August 30th, 2011 · No Comments

Retirements often create Retirementuncertainty. They can be times for celebrating accomplishments and marking an individual’s opportunity to move forward to something that they crave to do (whether political activism, fishing, spending time with grandkids, or …).  These events are usually tinged by sadness, as they are also life transition moments with someone passing into, as the French put it, their ‘troiseme age’ (Third Age) and can be seen as marking a terminal point in a spiral toward the grave. Sometimes, however, that morbid element can actually contribute to the celebration.

And, today came news of such a reason to celebrate.  While a valued tool in powering Washington, DC, area, the Potomac River Coal Plant’s onerous pollution load long ago begin to outweigh the benefits of its power production. Grandfathered under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Potomac River Coal Plant owners saw it as more financially valuable to poison the plant’s neighbors and the atmosphere than to upgrade the plant to greater efficiency and lowered pollution loads.  Sadly, the CAA’s grandfathering provisions enable owners to continue to eke out profits with inefficient (and generally increasingly dirty) coal plants that fall far below the minimal standards that a new power plant would meet.  With this in mind, news that the Potomac River Coal Plant will retire come 1 October 2012 is tarnished only the reality that it would be better if it retired come 1 October 2011 and it would have been better if it had been retired prior to 1 October 2001 …

Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, commented

Retiring this major source of pollution in our nation’s capital signals a huge symbolic step towards moving the nation beyond coal. But the win today didn’t happen overnight.

Beyond CoalIt is a culmination of many years of hard work by local activists and concerned residents. Pollution from this coal-fired power plant has been making local residents sick since 1949 – contributing to heightened asthma rates, respiratory illnesses and other health problems. Retiring the Potomac River coal plant will mean cleaner air, cleaner water and healthier children and families.

For substantive and symbolic reasons, the Potomac River Coal Plant has long been a target of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.  Along with to many others who have helped make this happen, a tip of the hat to Beyond Coal for helping creating a retirement meriting celebration.

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Tags: Energy