Thursday, February 23, 2006

Power Plant an Environmental Injustice

A power plant pushed by Governor Schwarzenegger is being called an environmental injustice for a Riverside community.

A power plant touted by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and General Electric for its ability to reduce air pollution will actually spew nearly three times more unhealthful particulate matter into the air than older facilities, a coalition of environmental and labor groups said Wednesday.

The plant, under construction in the impoverished, largely Latino Riverside County community of Romoland, will sit about 1,000 feet from an elementary school, in a region that already suffers from the highest soot levels in the state.

"Any power plant built so near schools and families must follow clean air laws and not make our air quality any worse," said Roland Skumawitz, superintendent of the Romoland School District. He said he recognized the need for power in the fast-growing Inland Empire, but preferred that GE and another company that has applied to build a second plant nearby help pay to move the school to a new site.

"This whole area is being targeted for these kinds of facilities," said Penny Newman, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice in Riverside. She said GE's application to the regional air district showed that while the new, so-called H-style turbine plant might reduce greenhouse gas-causing emissions slightly, it would nearly triple particulate emissions.