Nearly a dozen environmental groups are suing the federal Department of Energy, accusing it of harming the environment, not doing its homework and not complying with federal laws. At issue is the designation of a high-transmission electricity corridor that has raised the ire of environmentalists and green-power supporters, including Lt. Gov. John Carney.
Charging that the Department of Energy (DOE) neglected to analyze the environmental impact of the proposed corridor or consult with the appropriate agencies, the lawsuit says, “As a result of these failures, DOE’s designation will increase greenhouse gas emissions, adversely impact endangered species and otherwise harm the environment.”
The department first designated the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor Oct. 5, 2007, because it deemed the Northeast’s energy transmission system to be congested. At that time, Carney wrote to the energy department expressing his disapproval of the project, calling it “ill-conceived and premature.”
The environmentalist lawsuit echoes some of Carney’s previous concerns. The document charges that the corridor runs through areas to the west that are not congested but are home to coal-fired generation facilities that were built before August 1972 and therefore exempt from many pollution regulations. Such plants produce electricity at a lower cost than do newer plants that are subject to pollution controls.
“The intent and effect of the corridor designation is to facilitate the transmission of low-cost coal-fired electricity produced in the western portion of the corridor (and neighboring areas to the west) to demand centers located in the northern and eastern portions of the corridor,” says the National Wildlife Federation which heads the lawsuit.
Encouraging increased production of electricity by old coal-fired plants under few pollution and environmental regulations will encourage dependence on the most polluting plants, said the document.
Carney made the same charge in his October letter. “It runs counter to forward-thinking energy policies to promote sustainable ‘green’ energy alternatives that are right for Delaware and the nation,” he wrote.
Delaware’s drive toward locally generated electricity, as prescribed in House Bill 6, stalled in December, when four state agencies could not muster a unanimous vote to support Bluewater Wind’s contract with Delmarva Power for an offshore wind farm. Carney could not be reached for comment by press time.
By Leah Hoenen
Cape Gazette staff
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