Monday, May 31, 2010

Mercury: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part 4

Mercury: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part 4

To avoid paying for expensive pollution controls, Portland General Electric (PGE) is planning to close the Boardman coal-burning power plant by the year 2020, about twenty years earlier than original plans.

Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recommends that PGE look for more options. The early closure is still on the table, but DEQ thinks there needs to be more discussion, more options, more alternatives.

Ten more years of pollution seems too long.

The Boardman coal-burning power plant is Oregon's largest single source of pollution and acid rain. New federal regulations force Oregon to take a hard stand, confronting PGE about longstanding pollution. Nitrogen oxide emissions must be reduced by 84% and sulfur dioxide by 80%. The cost? About $470,000,000. Rather than upgrade, PGE is planning to close the plant.

The Boardman plant emits 5,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 15,000 tons of sulfur/nitrogen dioxide, and 200 pounds of mercury every year.

I'm not comfortable criticizing PGE. I have friends who work there. It's been a supporter of Morrow county and nearby Boardman. But the cost of pollution is too great.

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