DHEC upholds air quality permit for proposed coal-fired power plant

After a full day of testimony, an air quality permit has been upheld for a proposed-and controversial-coal-fired power plant that Santee Cooper plans to build in the Pee Dee.

The board of the state Department of Environmental Control approved the findings of its staff.  DHEC staff attorney Sara Bazemore, testified on behalf of the DHEC team.

“In short, even with the controversy and all the important issues the requesters have raised, the staff, the department’s Bureau of Air Quality, issued a technically sound and stringent permit that legally must be issued in accordance with our state’s Pollution Control Act,” stated Bazemore.

The DHEC Board agreed, by a vote of only 4 to 2.  Outside the board room, Governor Mark Sanford and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources came out against the plant permit.

The five groups opposed to the plant who requested today’s review are:  Environmental Defense Fund, League of Women Voters of South Carolina, the Sierra Club, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. 

Nancy Cave is North Coast Office Director of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, one of the groups that appealed the permit.  She says that their legal position is that Santee Cooper has not met the requirements or the standards set forth, whether on a federal or state level.

“If this continues and goes on to a court decision and which I am not suggesting it will–I’m just saying if,” says Cave, ” that’s the point of law.”

This will be one battle among many in relation to the new coal-fired plant planned for Kingsburg. Those who testified Thursday against the plant are likely to appeal the decision, and there are at least three other permits, state and national, for water quality and landfills that must be considered.