OLYMPIA, Wash. - TransAlta's Chehalis power plant is the only coal-fired plant in the state and a trio of environmental groups say it's also the single biggest source of air pollution.
Today The Sierra Club, Earthjustice and National Parks Conservation Association tried to persuade a state panel to force a review of TransAlta's operating permit. The groups say The Southwest Clean Air Agency should be considering recently recognized health threats like climate gases when it issues operating permits.
"The Clean Air Agency failed to do is really employ all the authority it has to Washington's environment and the public from air pollutants," said Earthjustice Attorney Janette Brimmer, "including air pollutants that are, perhaps, emerging for example the climate pollutants, the CO2 or to protect us from toxins like mercury."
Earthjustice and the other groups asked the State Pollution Control Hearings Board to examine the rules for issuing the permit and consider a review TransAlta's.
"Southwest Clean Air Agency believes it did accurately incorporate all existing requirements into the permit," said Svend Brandt-Erichsen, attorney for The Clean Air Agency.
Brandt-Erichsen and attorneys for TransAlta told the panel the environmental groups want them to enforce rules that don't exist yet.
TransAlta spokesman Richard DeBolt told KING 5 today the company has a strong environmental record. He says it voluntarily reduced mercury levels in the past and will meet any rules that emerge from current studies.
The panel will consider the arguments and is expected to issue recommendations within a few months.