By Brett VandenHeuvel
Oregonâ€™s only coal-fired power plant has officially shut down. You made this happen. It took a people-powered campaign and lawsuit brought by Columbia Riverkeeper and our partners to end decades of dangerous air pollution at Portland General Electricâ€™s (PGE) Boardman coal-fired power plant.
Every year, PGE Boardman spewed over 4 million tons of greenhouse gases. The plant also belched 25,500 tons of toxic pollutants, primarily sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, into our air. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can cause lung disease, and nitrogen oxides can also increase your chances of getting viruses.
The coal plantâ€™s pollution created haze and acid rain. Wondering about the leading cause of haze pollution in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area? Look no further than the PGE coal-fired power plant.
In 2008, Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), with legal representation from the Earthrise Law Center, launched a campaign to clean up the Boardman plant. Two years later, we won. PGE agreed to a binding shutdown date of 2020; lower sulfur dioxide limits during the plantâ€™s final years in operation; and a $2.5-million penalty for violating the law.
Not surprisingly, PGE launched a misleading media campaign to paint the coal-plant closure as a progressive company seeing the light on climate change. Not so. It took youâ€”and our coalitionâ€™s incredible team of community organizers and attorneysâ€”to take down Oregonâ€™s largest individual source of greenhouse gas pollution.
Together, we made the impossible possible. Hereâ€™s to another incredible victory against the fossil fuel industry and for clean water and our climate.
According to PGE, the Boardman plant, which opened in 1977, will be the youngest U.S. coal plant closed for environmental reasons. Incredible work, team!
Brett VandenHeuvel is the Executive Director of ColumbiaRiverkeepers.
This news report was received on October 20. Learn more at ColumbiaRiverkeepers.org.