Pecan Growers Worried About Acid Rain

Concern is growing across Texas that pollution from power plants may be killing trees and vegetation. The Environmental Protection Agency has been visiting pecan orchards in the Hill Country to look for damage. Carrie Feibel has more.

Pecan growers in the Hill Country say acid rain may be damaging their orchards. Many are located near the Fayette Power Project, a coal-burning plant about 90 miles west of Houston. The growers say whole trees have died and others have lost their leaves, limbs and bark.

Texas has 19 coal-fired power plants, the most of any state. Those coal plants can release sulfur dioxide, a main ingredient of acid rain. The owners of the Fayette plant say pollution is not to blame. State regulators are also skeptical. But a Sierra Club botanist say it’s not just drought — some leaves have the brown spots that are typical of acid-rain damage.

The Fayette plant is spending almost $500 million to install so-called air “scrubbers.” That could reduce emission of sulfur dioxide by 90 percent. But the problem is not just around that plant. Farmers and ranchers near coal plants in Victoria and Franklin are also reporting that trees of all varieties are dying.

The Associated Press reports that the EPA is investigating.