Serious Questions Concerning New Power Plant Proposal
Local and State Groups Say Polluting Plant Wrong Direction for Somerset
Somerset–The Coalition for Clean Air South Coast and several statewide and regional organizations held a press conference today where they raised serious questions and concerns about a new power plant proposal for Somerset. The event was held at 5:30pm outside the Somerset Public Library, immediately before a public meeting at 6pm where Texas-based company GSXI presented plans for a new power plant in Somerset in front of the Somerset Economic Development Committee and a packed room of town residents.
Two project teasers circulated by the company GSXI and shared with the Somerset Economic Development Committee in advance of the meeting included conflicting information about whether the proposal to build a combined 400MW biomass gasification power plant powered by mesquite wood pellets imported from Texas and 150MW gas-fired facility would be located on Montaup or Brayton Point power plant sites and whether the plant would be base-load or peak-load, meaning continually operating or only called on at peak times of need. There was also conflicting information about the size of the proposal. The teasers included claims that the project would be “carbon-negative,” “create thousands of jobs,” and be “the most innovative power plant on the east coast.”
“The Texas-based company hasn’t shared many details so there’s still a lot we don’t know, but I know enough today to say this is the wrong direction for Somerset,” said Connie Brodeur, a Somerset resident and spokesperson for the community group Coalition for Clean Air South Coast. “This plan to build a massive wood-burning incinerator will pollute our air, send jobs and revenue to Texas, and distract from our efforts to make Somerset a truly clean energy economy with solar and offshore wind.”
“Massachusetts, and the South Coast in a particular, has suffered the worst impacts of polluting technologies for decades. It is time for Somerset, and Massachusetts, to move beyond energy proposals and policies that will, despite claims to the contrary, emit millions of tons of pollutants and CO2,” said James McCaffrey of Partnership for Policy Integrity, a non-profit science-based advocacy group.
“We are extremely skeptical that a power plant of this size, burning fracked gas and clear-cut trees shipped-in from Texas, will do anything other than exacerbate our carbon pollution problem,” said David Ismay, a senior attorney with Conservation Law Foundation. “The people of Somerset cannot afford to be burdened with another smokestack polluting the air and contributing to asthma and other respiratory diseases. Clean renewable energy, with the many good jobs that it brings, is the only solution that can both boost Somerset’s economy and provide the healthy, livable environment its people deserve.”
“Our message today is that that clean energy doesn’t come out of a smokestack,” said Sylvia Broude, Executive Director of Toxics Action Center, the New England-wide public health and environmental non-profit. “Somerset residents have said over and over again that they want a healthy and diverse economy, not more polluting energy. We applaud Representative Haddad’s efforts to make Somerset a leader in offshore wind and a 21st century economy, and we hope GSXI takes their wood pellets back to Texas.”
“Earlier this year Bristol County received an “F” for ozone on the Lung Association’s State of the Air report, signaling some of the worse air quality in the country,” said Casey Harvell from American Lung Association of Massachusetts. “The last thing we need is another heavily polluting power plant, especially considering the higher than average rates of asthma here in Massachusetts. With a growing market for alternative energy sources, we believe there are far healthier, safer, cleaner and more modern ways to power our community.”