Upper Mt. Bethel, PA – This morning the Multi-State Alliance to Promote Lasting Energy (MAPLE) welcomed the announcement that, after decades of spewing air and water pollution, GenOn will be shutting down the Portland Generating Station in Upper Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania in January, 2015. The Portland Plant is one of the oldest and dirties coal plants in the country and has been causing health and environmental problems throughout the Lehigh Valley and Northwest New Jersey for over 50 years. In 2009 alone it emitted 2,396,431 tons of carbon dioxide as well as 30,701 tons of sulfur dioxide and 3,496 tons of nitrous oxide. GenOn will also be closing the New Castle, Shawville, and Titus plants in Pennsylvania.
Today’s announcement is a long awaited relief to local residents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey after over a decade of social and legal action against the plant.
Dave McNulty, a Warren County resident said, “having a child with asthma has shown me the importance of clean, breathable air. I’m happy to know that our air will be cleaner and healthier once this plant finally shuts down.”
Along with the air pollution GenOn currently dumps thousands of tons of toxic coal ash into an improperly lined and under monitored slate quarry in Bangor, PA.
“I have lived close to the Portland Plant’s coal ash dump in Bangor for years and I am so relieved to know that they will no longer be dumping their toxic waste in my community. This has been a long time coming. Now I just want to know that they will clean up the coal ash mess that will be left after the plant is closed.” said Anna Maria Caldera, a Bangor resident for over 10 years.
GenOn’s decision comes after an EPA ruling on October 31, 2011 that forced them to reduce the plant’s sulfur dioxide emissions by 81% in 3 years. The ruling was in response to a 2010 lawsuit by the state of New Jersey after research showed that the plant’s air pollution that blows over state lines is causing serious air quality problems to Warren and Sussex counties.
“GenOn has finally made the right decision for Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It’s time that energy companies start realizing that coal is an outdated technology. Now we just want to make sure that GenOn takes appropriate action to clean up their polluting coal ash dump in Bangor, PA” said Greenpeace Field Organizer Myriam Fallon.
“Above all, this is a win for public health and for families who have been breathing polluted air from these outdated plants,” said Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “GenOn has recognized that operating outdated, dirty coal plants just doesn’t make economic sense anymore, especially in a time when constructing a wind farm is now cheaper than building a new coal plant. What matters now is ensuring that GenOn does the right thing and transitions these workers into the growing clean energy sector.”
MAPLE includes The Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, Greenpeace, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Genesis Farms, The Alliance for Sustainable Communities – Lehigh Valley, New Jersey Highlands Coalition, and Save the Park.