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Environmental activists and Councilwoman push for stricter federal regulations regarding Spruce Plant

Environmental activists and Councilwoman push for stricter federal regulations regarding Spruce Plant

Ana Sandoval, San Antonio City Councilwoman and two public-health advocates, called on Thursday the president and Environmental Protection Agency for tougher environmental regulation of CPS Energys coalfired J.K. Spruce Plant.

Sandoval was joined by Adelita Cantu (a public health nurse) and Chantelle Ruidant Hansen (hispanic access foundation) at a Woodlawn Lake Park news conference on the West Side. They urged President Joe Biden to adopt more federal regulations regarding coal-powered plants.

President Biden and EPA have the chance to take several steps towards reducing pollution from power plants, said Cantu, a member of Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environment. People in vulnerable communities, especially those of color and pregnant women, are often affected by toxic air from dirty power plants.

Thursday’s news conference comes a week after EPA proposed lowering the San Antonio areas ozone pollutant designation from moderate to marginal. This would trigger a new set ozone quality standards and regulations to meet the ozone standard of 70 parts per million by Sept. 24, 2024.

The news conference speakers stated that the administration hasn’t been as aggressive in adopting new regulations and enforcing them. The EPAs Mercury and Air Toxic Standards regulate toxic emissions from electric plants. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule governs air pollution that crosses state boundaries.

The EPA will hold a public hearing Thursday afternoon on Cross State Air Pollution Rule. It will be followed by a public comments period until June 6.

Sandoval stated that President Biden and EPA must keep their promise to take tougher action against coal plants in order to protect San Antonio-area residents. This could include a stronger standard for toxic airborne emission.

As the EPA proposes, a more severe nonattainment would result in additional emissions checks on residents’ cars and more regulations for industry on permits.

Ozone pollution can be caused by heat, nitrogen oxide, from industry, transportation, volatile organic compounds, usually from construction, and sunlight. According to a 2017 San Antonio study, 38 percent of the nitrogen dioxide in Bexar County came from stationary point sources such as the Spruce plant on the South Side. Transportation was responsible for 52 percent. Spruce has produced more than 2,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxide since 2020.

Emissions from coal plants like sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, or other particulate matters are small enough to penetrate the human lungs and cause chronic respiratory disease. These conditions can lead to asthma, pneumonia, and even impact the cardiovascular system. According to the EPA, 42 percent of mercury emissions from the United States are also due to burning coal.

CPS Energy claimed that it has reduced nitrogen oxides that contribute towards ozone emissions by around 80 percent since 1997. The utility, which is owned by the city, stated that it has installed additional control systems and added mercury monitors to continuously monitor mercury levels.

CPS released a statement saying that they are committed to supporting San Antonio’s Climate Action and Adaption Plan and our previously published generation Resource Plan. This plan, which includes options for the future Spruce Units, was posted on our website in January 2021. This existing generation planning process is being undertaken by Ana Sandoval, City Council Member, as well as Dr. Adelita Candu.

The news conference speakers stated that emissions of the Spruce Tree Plant not only impact climate change, but also public and private health.

See Also

Climate change does not just affect temperatures. It also impacts every aspect of our daily lives, especially in cities like San Antonio. Ruidant Hanen stated that climate change is not just about warming the temperature. This smog and the air pollution is only one of many contributing factors to the climate crisis in the United States. It is threatening our ability, as well as our ability to breathe clean and healthy air.

According to the U.S Energy Information Administration (USA), the sixth-highest polluter of carbon in the state is the Spruce plant.

CPS Energy on Spruce recently resolved that it would strive to be financially responsible and a good steward of community assets, while also balancing security, affordability, and environmental responsibility. CPS board directed both the rate advisory and utility management committees to focus on costs, alternative power generation, and the transition from coal to other energy sources. It also asked them to reduce emissions by 2030.

The board also adopted a resolution aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 41 percent in 2030 and 71 percent in 2040 from 2016 levels.

My experience as a member of the rate advisory panel has taught me that pushing is my goal. [shut down Spruce]Sandoval said that the deadline was 2030. However, if there is a way to do this sooner, I would definitely push for it.

Elena Bruess writes for Express-News via Report for America, a national program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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