Big Brown goes down – largest air polluter in the U.S. closes its doors

Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign writes on the  Sierra Club site:

In a major clean air and water victory for Dallas-area residents and the nation, today the massive Big Brown Coal plant ceased operations.

Big Brown is the nation’s single largest source of the deadly sulfur dioxide pollution that’s linked to asthma, heart attacks, and other severe health problems – not just the biggest coal plant source, but the biggest source, period. For Texas families and downwind communities as far afield as Illinois and Michigan, pollution from the plant is a matter of life and death.”

While there has been an extensive and impressive public campaign protesting against the plant and its impact on air quality – an impact which reaches as far away as Michigan – it was financial reality that made owners Vistra Energy shutter the operation.

That’s good news and bad. The bad news – or old story – is that it seems the only thing that can close this kind of operation is simple greed.

The good news is that this latest and very large nail in the coffin of coal shows that the fossil fuel’s financial future looks increasingly perilous and opens more opportunities for solar and wind power.

Closure saves 163 lives a year

The other good news of course is that an analysis using EPA-approved air modelling estimates that retirement of the plant will save 163 lives every year, prevent nearly 6,000 asthma attacks, prevent tens of thousands of lost work and school days, and save $1.6 billion in annual public health costs.

When Vistra Energy President and CEO Curt Morgan announced the end of the plant (along with the Sandow coal burning plant) in October he told POWER magazine “Though the long-term economic viability of these plants has been in question for some time, our year-long analysis indicates this announcement is now necessary.”  Regarding the Sandow closing specifically, the company said ” the standalone economics of the Sandow complex no longer support continued investment in the site in this low wholesale power price environment.”

Big Brown was a 1.2 billion watt generating plant that emitted tens of millions of pounds of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide each year according to Sierra Club, along with 1,000 pounds of mercury. (From 2013 EPA data as reported in National Geographic).

Follow 7minutesolar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *