TXU to Build New Plants

Texas utility provider TXU has decided to build eleven new coal-burning power plants in the state over the next five years. Governor Rick Perry supports the $10 billion project, and has ordered agencies to expedite the process for the energy company.

The building project comes at a time when many energy companies fear federal regulators may begin to require stricter emission laws. Many environmental groups are concerned about the amounts of carbon dioxide gases released from these plants.

David Schanbacher is the Chief Engineer for the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality and he says burning coal has more potential for pollution, but technology has made the new plants more efficient and cleaner.

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"Compare the, uh, amount of pollution that comes from a coal plant to even a natural gas-fire plant that was built back in the 70s or 80s. It's, the coal plants are generally a lot better."

TXU Chief Executive John Wilder says there is no quick fix to the state's energy problem, but says this is the first step in making costs lower for consumers and reducing air emissions.

Environmental groups disagree and oppose the building of new coal burning plants. Neil Carman is the Director of the Sierra Club's Clean Air Program and he says TXU is using an older technology.

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"It means more, urban smog, more ozone, worse visibility, and more ill health and sickness."

Carman adds that TXU should focus on other forms of energy instead of coal, which he says is too damaging to the environment.

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"It's like we have an injured atmosphere. And, if you think of the skin of an apple-it's very thin. And the atmosphere around the planet is not any thicker than the skin on an apple. We cannot afford to damage it much more."

Currently, there are not many restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. If TXU completes construction on these plants before the government passes new restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions, they may be able to sidestep some of the requirements because the new plants will have "grandfather" status.

Most of the locations identified by TXU, for their coal burning plants, are in north and northeast Texas. One of the locations is Mount Pleasant near the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

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