Friday, January 13, 2012

Boardman Coal Plant is Oregon's Largest Greenhouse Gas Emitter

By Brian Kelly, Restoration Coordinator
Photo courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper

I’ve been following the news about the Boardman coal plant ever since I found out that it pollutes the air over Hells Canyon. And the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Strawberry Mountains as well, not to mention Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. The coal plant is Oregon’s largest stationary source of sulfur dioxide (acid rain) and nitrogen oxides (haze). It is the state’s second largest source of mercury pollution.

So it was not too surprising when the US Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that the Boardman coal-fired electric plant is also Oregon’s largest stationary source of greenhouse gasses.

In 2010, the plant released nearly 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the EPA. That’s about equal to the carbon emissions from 800,000 passenger vehicles during a year.

The good news is that the plant will stop burning coal by the end of the decade. Hells Canyon Preservation Council was a member of the coalition that brought about this important victory. Last summer, HCPC and our allies settled a lawsuit whereby the plant will stop burning coal by 2020, reduce pollution in the interim period, and fund environmental projects including restoration work in the Eagle Caps and Hells Canyon.

There are many other sources of carbon emissions. There is much work yet to be done to protect our planet from ourselves. But for today, I am grateful to read a new report about pollution and to know that we have begun to take care of a local part of the problem.

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