Sierra Club

Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

February 11, 2009

Contact:
Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x 102

South Carolina Governor Opposes Pee Dee Coal Plant
3rd Gov. in Past Week to Say No to Coal

Washington, D.C.: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford today became the third governor in a matter of days to renounce coal when he announced his opposition to a coal plant planned for the Pee Dee River area in Florence County. The Governor’s announcement follows similar recent decisions by Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm and Wisconsin’s Governor Jim Doyle to start moving their states beyond coal.

The head of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also publicly opposed the Pee Dee coal plant today, citing numerous concerns (pdf) about the plant’s impact on the environment and the quality of life in nearby communities. 

In response, Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club’s Move Beyond Coal Campaign issued the following statement.

"We applaud Governor Sanford's bold decision to oppose this plant. Rising costs and future carbon regulations on the coal plant could tie South Carolina to an increasingly expensive and dirty project, preventing the state from becoming a real player in a clean energy economy.

"Like officials from all over the country, Governor Sanford recognizes that this plant would hurt the state's economy even as it threatens the health of residents. It has become increasingly clear over the last few weeks that pushing forward with business-as- usual coal projects simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

"Santee Cooper and coal plant developers across the country should take note. States, businesses and local officials are increasingly focusing on newer, cleaner, more efficient technologies that can help both our economy and our climate."


Background:

The Santee Cooper, Pee Dee coal plant is one of the largest new coal plants proposed in the nation. Each year the facility would release 93 pounds of toxic mercury into a nearby river already suffering from high levels of mercury contamination. Mercury is a developmental toxin that can impair the development of children and babies and, at much higher doses, lead to serious health problems for adults.

The Pee Dee coal plant would also emit enough global warming pollution to undermine efforts by other states to reduce greenhouse gasses, prompting the  Attorneys General of eight states—California, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont—to write in opposition to the plant.

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