The Sierra Club has sued the Department of Energy to block the use of clean energy funds to build a coal plant in Mississippi.
In a suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday, the group alleges DOE violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act by awarding $293 million in federal funds to the Mississippi Power Co.
The money will help build a new mine-mouth coal plant that would burn lignite coal from a new 12,000-acre strip mine. The Sierra Club says this will cause “extensive and irreversible damage to streams and wetlands” and could result in the release of as much as 5.7 million tons of CO2 every year.
“DOE is using ‘clean energy’ funds to back a project that will inflict all of the environmental harms associated with conventional coal-fired generation of electricity,” according to the complaint by Earthjustice lawyers Khushi Desai, Abigail Dillen and Bridget Lee. “DOE is missing an opportunity to spur development of clean energy technologies and to help arrest climate change.”
The Sierra Club wants an injunction forcing the government to do a more rigorous analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, one that takes into account global warming and other environmental consequences.
The money to build the plant was awarded under the Clean Coal Power Initiative, a grant program established by Congress “that provides limited financial assistance for projects demonstrating advanced coal-based power generation technologies at the commercial scale.”
“DOE made no effort to consider renewable energy projects or conservation and energy efficiency projects of any kind,” according to the complaint, and focused instead on “proposals that would do little or nothing to improve upon technology that already has been commercially demonstrated.”
The case is assigned to Judge John Bates.