COAL:

Texas developer cancels power plant, blames Obama climate push

HOUSTON -- Developers quietly ended their push last week to open a new Texas coal-fired power plant.

White Stallion Energy LLC had been planning to build a new power station in Matagorda County, south of Houston along the Gulf of Mexico, that the company promised would be the cleanest and safest coal-burning power plant ever. But the company undermined its message somewhat and angered locals by fighting U.S. EPA limits on mercury emissions.

President Obama's renewed attention on climate change and low natural gas prices persuaded White Stallion to call off the 1,200-megawatt project.

"Pronouncements by the administration -- most recently in the President's State of the Union message -- continue to indicate that additional regulatory barriers to such projects will be erected," Chief Operating Officer Randy Bird said in a statement. "In addition, even though the generation needs for the state of Texas continue to grow, the presently low price of natural gas has made the price of electricity from a new coal fired generator uncompetitive at this time."

White Stallion faced opposition from environmentalists in Austin and from neighbors of the project site who expressed concern about the prospect of mercury contamination.

The company insisted its project would have been among the cleanest coal-fired generators in the world. It promised to process emissions during and after combustion, using techniques to scrub nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides, the main causes of acid rain. The company also said it would be using activated carbon to limit mercury emissions and capture fine particulates, or soot.

Opponents of the project hailed the company's announcement.

The No Coal Coalition of Matagorda County declared "victory!" on its website. The group enjoyed support in its opposition to the plant from some of the nation's largest environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and the Environmental Defense Fund.

In a release, EDF called the power plant construction cancellation "tremendous news for clean air advocates." EDF Regional Director Jim Marston said he hoped the failure of the White Stallion project would mark the end of new coal power generation in Texas.

"The White Stallion plant, like the recently mothballed Las Brisas project in Corpus Christi, hopefully represents the last dying gasp of new coal plants in Texas proposing to employ technologies from the last century," Marston said.

The Las Brisas project was an initiative to build a power plant to generate electricity from petroleum coke, a byproduct of crude oil refining. The developer canceled those plans at the end of last year.

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