Groups Claim Victory as “Zombie” Permit to Construct 1,000-Megawatt Beech Hollow Plant is Terminated
WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA — This week, community advocates, Clean Air Council, and Environmental Integrity Project successfully defeated the Beech Hollow power plant, a proposed 1,000-megawatt gas-fired power plant whose air pollution permit was officially terminated on Wednesday. If built, the plant would have been an enormous source of dangerous air pollution and greenhouse gases in a region where residents already suffer from some of the worst air quality in the entire United States.
“This is a huge victory for the health of my community!” said nearby resident and Clean Air Council member Cathy “Cat” Lodge. “Having one fewer polluting fossil fuel facility in Robinson Township is an important step in the right direction. Finally, the PA DEP listened to the facts and did the right thing by cancelling this permit.”
The announcement comes after Clean Air Council, represented by its own attorneys and the Environmental Integrity Project, challenged an air permit that DEP had granted for the project in June 2021. The groups filed a second appeal when DEP, in an August 23 letter, attempted to revive a defunct version of the permit in a move that contradicts state and federal precedent.
On September 28, 2021, the groups had also sent a letter to DEP presenting evidence—which the operator had failed to disclose to DEP—that showed that Robinson Power did not intend to proceed with the Beech Hollow gas plant. This evidence included that Robinson Power had withdrawn its request to connect with the regional electricity grid, had received a return of its construction escrow, and had failed to construct the plant in accordance with regulatory requirements. In response to the groups’ evidence, Robinson Power withdrew its permit and DEP announced the termination of all authorizations for the Beech Hollow project.
“Local residents made all the difference in uncovering facts that were instrumental in DEP’s final decision to cancel this project’s permit,” said Lisa Hallowell, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. “We are thrilled to have stopped the construction of a dirty power plant in Robinson Township, where residents are already overburdened by air pollution from a plethora of oil and gas facilities.”
“After years of fighting to protect their health from this polluting power plant plan, residents have succeeded in defeating it for good,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “I hope this victory emboldens other communities to continue to resist unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure and forces companies looking to build these unwanted plants to pause and recognize the power of community opposition.”
For a copy of DEP’s termination letter, click here.
Clean Air Council is a member-supported, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone’s right to a healthy environment. The Council has offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Wilmington, and works through public education, community advocacy, and government oversight to ensure enforcement of environmental laws. For more information, please visit www.cleanair.org.
The Environmental Integrity Project is a 19-year-old, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and strengthening policy to protect public health and the environment. Learn more at www.environmentalintegrity.org.
Alex Bomstein, Clean Air Council, (215) 567-4004 x118 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Hallowell, Environmental Integrity Project, (202) 294-3282 or email@example.com