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Feb. 7, 2008, Press Release
Sierra Club urges MDNR & RD/RUS to follow Wall Street’s lead and consider carbon investment risk
AECI’s Norborne, Mo. conventional coal-fired power plant should be rejected in favor of cost-effective clean-energy alternatives to protect ratepayers and taxpayers from Rural Coop’s irresponsible investment in coal.

MISSOURI – The Sierra Club today urged the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to heed Wall Street’s recent warnings and reject a conventional coal-fired power plant in favor of cost-effective clean-energy alternatives. 

A report earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 4 "Wall Street Shows Skepticism Over Coal.") detailing how three of Wall Street’s largest and most influential investment banks are evaluating coal plant investments with a new look at carbon risk prompted groups opposed to the proposed Norborne, Missouri coal-burning power plant to ask agencies (RD/RUS & MDNR) to factor in carbon risk when evaluating financing and long-term cost to ratepayers compared to investments in clean and renewable energy sources. 

“Major players in the financing of power plants now agree with us that energy conservation, efficiency programs and renewable energy investments must be considered in any decision concerning how we supply future energy demand. Continuing to invest in dirty coal is risky for investors, ratepayers, taxpayers, and the long-term health of our environment.” said Henry Robertson, Energy Chair for Missouri Sierra Club.

Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI) seeks to build a new, 780-megawatt gross output coal-fired power plant in Norborne, Missouri. Sierra Club’s November 2007 comments regarding the draft Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air pollution construction permit for the proposed power plant, requested that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) consider alternatives to construction of the power plant pursuant to section 165(a)(2) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7475(a)(2). Sierra Club’s comments asked MDNR to consider ‘no build’ and other alternatives with less harmful air pollution impacts. Sierra Club is now seeking to supplement its November comments to highlight a very significant recent development that reinforces the wisdom and the necessity of considering alternatives to building another major carbon dioxide (CO2) source in Missouri.

In a similar request the groups are asking the USDA Rural Development, Utilities Program (RD/RUS) to factor carbon risk into their lending decision concerning the Norborne plant and to steer investments into demand side management and renewable energy, taking the portfolio approach recommended in the Carbon Principles the banks developed.

Meanwhile, environmental and consumer advocates are urging the Missouri Legislature to adopt much needed comprehensive energy legislation that will encourage utility investment in energy efficiency programs, require utilities to meet mandatory renewable energy targets and encourage consumers to purchase energy efficient products. 

"Investors are now discovering what environmental leaders have known for years: Missouri’s future rests with clean, renewable energy technologies, not dirty coal plants that harm our land, air and most cherished places" said Melissa Hope of the Sierra Club. "Agencies, public officials and legislators must step up to protect Missouri ratepayers from bad investments in coal by ensuring that big utilities invest in the new energy future NOW, not after huge new dirty coal capacity is built.”

Despite warnings from investors and conservationists, AECI is attempting to build another coal plant in Missouri, even as other states are refusing such bad investments. In the past four years, at least 59 coal plants have been denied, withdrawn or shot down across the country because of skyrocketing costs and global warming concerns.

Letter to DNR Air Pollution Program

Letter to USDA Rural Development, Utilities Program