The following is the joint media response of conservation groups to the restart of the Healy 2 power plant.
Environmental organizations across Alaska responded favorably to today’s announcement of settlement details between Golden Valley Electric Association and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to operate the Healy coal-fired power plant.
Since 2009, the Denali Citizens Council (DCC), National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, the Sierra Club, and Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) have exerted pressure on Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) to institute the best pollution controls on the Healy 2 plant to limit the dirty emissions that would come from burning coal should the plant be brought online. Our organizations have likewise advocated that emissions from the antiquated Healy 1 be reduced to improve air quality. Our ongoing commitment played a key role to ensure that GVEA places pollution control measures on both units at the Healy coal plant despite the utility’s objections. We commend the Environmental Protection Agency for bringing GVEA to the table and requiring them to install industry-standard emission controls on the Healy plants and instituting a possible schedule for phasing out the older plant.
“We are pleased that pollution control measures will protect public health and the view shed at Denali and in Healy. However, it remains to be seen if the Healy 2 coal plant will be able to be restarted. To date, the plant has been a waste of over $300 million of public money, and still needs over $100 million to fix the facility,” said Emily Fehrenbacher, Associate Regional Representative for the Sierra Club. “We hope that GVEA will continue to look to new energy sources, like their wind farm at Eva Creek, and away from dirty coal.”“As one of America’s most iconic treasures, Denali National Park is protected by the strongest air quality standards our laws have to offer,” said Joan Frankevich, Alaska Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We are pleased with the improved pollution controls and other positive steps that the EPA and GVEA agreed to, so that both Healy plants do not diminish Denali’s awe-inspiring views, disturb visitors’ health or harm the wildlife, plants, and other natural resources.”
“These pollution control measures will help to protect the Class 1 Airshed of Denali National Park, which is virtually adjacent to the coal plant. In addition, the health of our local community will benefit by having emissions from the Healy plant cleaned to the same standard that is expected of any start-up coal-fired power plant in the United States today,” said Charlie Loeb, president of Denali Citizens Council.
“We believe that it is imperative now that the GVEA protect public health by implementing clean, healthy energy sources rather than dirty coal. They owe it to our children and future generations,” said Pamela Miller, Executive Director, ACAT.
“We are happy to learn that pollution controls will be installed on the Healy 2 plant to reduce negative health impacts on local communities,” said David Arnold, Executive Director for the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. “But the fact remains that the long-term negative consequences of utilizing coal as an energy resource outweigh any short-term economic benefits; benefits that will likely be more limited than many expect. We strongly encourage and support a move away from coal while transitioning toward alternative non-toxic sources such as natural gas and wind farms, such as those at Eva Creek and Fire Island.”
Emily Fehrenbacher, Sierra Club Alaska, 907-276-4060
Charlie Loeb, Denali Citizens Council, 907-733-6300
Joan Frankevich, National Parks Conservation Association, 907-538-2693
David Arnold, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, 907-452-5021