Groups band together in suit against Pee Dee Coal Plant

Image by Santee CooperImage by 20080610powerplant.jpg The proposed Pee Dee power plant has received much criticism as too great a risk to the environment. Santee Cooper has countered that it’s a totally modern clean-as-can-be facility.


Six groups have banded together in a lawsuit against the S.C. DHEC in an attempt to block Santee Cooper's proposed Pee Dee Coal Plant for the Florence area.

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The groups allege that the state-owned electric utility's planned $2.2 billion facility was granted an illegal permit by DHEC; they say it violates Clean Air Act requirements.

From the press release:

“This plant would add mercury pollution to an already contaminated region of the Pee Dee, but DHEC waived the maximum mercury controls required by law,” said Blan Holman, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center. “The tragedy of DHEC’s decision is that we have far cheaper and cleaner options than a $2.5 billion coal plant, and those options would generate thousands more jobs than this dinosaur ever would.” 

In March, the S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control approved an air pollution permit for the Florence County coal plant proposed by state-owned electric utility Santee Cooper. Under the permit, the plant, which would be located on property adjacent to the Great Pee Dee River, would emit over ten million tons of carbon dioxide and thousands of tons of toxic and particle pollution every year throughout its projected 50-year lifespan. By authorizing such large amounts of pollution, DHEC’s permit violates federal Clean Air Act requirements, according to the lawsuit.

The groups have previously advocated using more expensive technology in use by other coal plants that can drastically reduce mercury emissions.

The proposed coal plant has had no shortage of detractors: Even the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and Governor Sanford have spoken against the facility. 

The Southern Environmental Law Center is collectively representing the position Environmental Defense Fund, League of Women Voters of S.C., the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, the S.C. Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club.