David Graham-Caso, Sierra Club, 213.387.6528 x 214
Justin Hayes, Idaho Conservation League, 208.345.6933 x 24
Proposed Idaho Fertilizer Plant Has First Enforceable Global Warming Pollution Limits
Sierra Club and Idaho Conservation League Announce Settlement in Challenge to Proposed Plant
(Boise, ID) – For the first time, strict limits will be imposed on global warming pollution from a proposed coal plant. The limits are contained in a revised air permit issued today by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a “coal to gas” fertilizer plant in southeastern Idaho, and are the result of a settlement agreed to by The Sierra Club and Idaho Conservation League (ICL). The proposed project’s developer, Southeast Idaho Energy Inc., the Sierra Club, and the ICL recently agreed to a settlement in a challenge to the plant’s air emissions permit that addresses several local environmental and health concerns and will also require the reduction of the proposed global warming pollution by more than 58 percent.
“We applaud the state of Idaho and Southeast Idaho Energy Inc. for making an important commitment to reduce global warming pollution from this coal project,” Sierra Club staff attorney Andrea Issod said. “Turning coal into gas to produce fertilizer would generate about twice the amount of global warming-causing pollution as the standard production method, which uses natural gas. The revised permit requires the plant to reduce emissions to roughly the same level as a typical fertilizer plant.”
The plant would convert coal to gas in order to produce fertilizer. As initially proposed, the plant would have emitted a staggering amount of carbon dioxide (an air pollutant that traps heat and contributes to global warming), equal to approximately 5% of the total carbon dioxide emissions for the entire state of Idaho each year. A permit for the plant, issued by the by the Idaho DEQ in February, did not include limits on carbon dioxide emissions.
The initial permit was challenged by the Sierra Club and ICL, and Southeast Idaho Energy agreed to discuss the organizations’ environmental concerns. The settlement announced today is the outcome of productive conversations between the parties.
“This permit is a win-win for the people of Idaho,” said Justin Hayes, Program Director for the Idaho Conservation League. “This is proof that jobs and environmental protection can go hand in hand if we work together.”
As a result of the agreement, Southeast Idaho Energy, the Sierra Club and ICL presented a revised permit application to the Idaho DEQ that includes enforceable limits on the proposed facility’s carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the plant’s nitrous oxide emissions, a more potent global warming pollutant than carbon dioxide. Within five years of the startup of the fertilizer plant, the company will be required to capture and permanently sequester 1.1 million tons of carbon dioxide (at least 58% of the plant’s projected output) per year. If the sequestration operation is not up and running when the plant begins operating, the company will purchase carbon dioxide offsets in the same amount, to mitigate for its interim global warming pollution emissions.
- # # # -