|Updated: 12/09/2008 8:02 pm
||Published: 12/09/2008 3:12 pm
In a surprising twist in the fight over the $1.6 billion coal-fired power plant under construction in Hempstead County, Governor Mike Beebe told environmentalist groups against the plant that he doesn't have the power to stop it.
Environmental groups say coal plants are killing the environment. SWEPCO, the company building the plant, says the plant is clean. The latest round in the fight over coal plants in Arkansas took place Tuesday in the state capitol.
“This plant proposed for Southwest Arkansas will pump six million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year and about 400 pounds of mercury. And that's poisonous stuff," said Glen Hooks.
Environmental groups are delivering a petition to Governor Beebe with 3800 signatures asking the Governor to halt construction of coal plants.
But Leah Arnold of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity says those groups are wrong about clean coal technology. “At the Hempstead County plant there is space for them to be able to retrofit that plant with carbon capture storage and technology,” said Leah Arnold.
Last Week, plant worker after plant worker pleaded with environmental regulators to allow work to resume in Hempstead County. “I don't know what I’ll do if I lose this job," said Nathaniel Burk.
"You know it's Christmas. I don't know what kind of future we have without it," said Billy Joe Francis.
"It's not about the economy versus the environment, in their own proposal they say when the whole thing is completed there will be 110 jobs. There are going to be some temporary construction jobs before that but permanently only about 100 jobs," Hooks said.
“We need affordable, safe, reliable electricity. It’s the lifeblood of the economy and the lifeblood of Arkansas," said Leah Arnold.
Another hearing is scheduled for Monday. Environmental groups are hoping they can stop construction in Hempstead County.