Worked-up environmentalists, an Austin judge, and a carbon-based fuel-and you know what comes next. Predictably, Judge Steven Yelonosky rejected a plan for Corpus Christi's Las Brisas Energy Center to provide 1 million South Texas customers with energy generated by burning petroleum coke.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality had approved the plan in January 2011, but coal-hating enviros never die without a court fight. Back to TCEQ goes the plan--which was expected to be in effect by 2015--unless higher state courts overturn Yelonosky's order.
The enviro beef was that Chase Power Development of Houston hadn't demonstrated, as required by federal clean air legislation, the safety of burning petcoke (i.e., carbon solids rescued and repurposed after oil refining). TCEQ said, yes, indeed, the company had done so; petroleum coke wasn't going to pollute any South Texas lungs.
He said. She said. The larger point, however this thing ends up, is the appalling indifference of the enviro community to the challenge of providing a huge and dynamic state with the power needed to keep lights burning and air conditioning units blowing.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas predicted last year that the state could run short of power by 2014. That's what Las Brisas is all about--being ready to keep the power coming. Chase Power says Las Brisas would have the lowest emission limits "of any Texas solid-fired power plant." That's still not enough? The conviction grows ever faster that enviros aren't concerned with making power plants safer so much as they are with keeping new ones from being built.
More wind farms, more solar power--that's the enviro gospel. Last year (meaning three years before 2014) wind farms produced 6.9 percent of Texas energy. Looks like the enviros better put the pedal to the metal--unless speed ranks as just one more environmental violation.