The announcement by LS Power on Dec. 12 of its decision to pull the plug on its contract to build the Longleaf Energy Station in Early County should be celebrated as a victory for the residents of all Southwest Georgia. We have been spared the toxic effects of inhaling and ingesting the poisons emitted by a coal-burning plant in our backyard, not only for us but also our progeny.
This action was not taken voluntarily by the power company, but rather due to continued pressure applied by a tireless coalition of organizations and citizen groups aligned to protect the citizens of the region, including the Friends of the Chattahoochee, the Flint Riverkeeper, the GreenLaw legal team in Atlanta and the Sierra Club
While there are a few detractors who exaggerated and overstated the prospects of some type of economic windfall forthcoming as the result of building an electric power plant along the Chattahoochee River, the truth is that this was a speculative venture and, in fact, LS Power, after its 10-year pursuit, had yet to secure even one customer for the electricity to be produced. The company also illegally ignored the requirement to control the dispersion of the thousands of tons of pollutants that would flow from such a facility.
Complicit with LS Power in its attempt to profit at the expense of the area residents was the Georgia EPD. This is an agency that is ostensively charged with protecting the health and welfare of the people of the state of Georgia, yet, at every attempt to make certain the company would be held accountable for controlling emissions from the plant, the EPD defied its mandate and refused to enforce laws that were already in place, simply to appease the interests of the contractor. One can only speculate on what their motives might have been.
In a time when the harsh realities of global climate change threaten the very health of the planet, we can no longer afford to disregard the impact of polluting man-made contributors. Barring an epiphany or a collective corporate sense of conscience and responsibility, it is only through the proactive measures of concerned citizen groups, such as those noted above, that we can work together to stem the tide on our path to destruction. You owe these people your gratitude.