Coal plant a threat to Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Coal plant a threat to Aspen

Dear Editor:Last Friday, the Aspen City Council sent comments to the Environmental Protection Agency urging stricter controls on a proposed large new coal-burning power plant. It is expected to harm visibility in Mesa Verde National Park and wilderness areas closer to Aspen, and will be a major contributor to global warming.The Desert Rock proposed plant is a 1,500-megawatt coal power plant that the City Council feels should not proceed without incorporating technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that allow greenhouse gases to be captured in the future. The plant will operate for 50 years, so council feels that building a new plant now that will be a major greenhouse gas emitter for 50 years is a mistake. The City Council pointed out in its letter the very significant impacts global warming is expected to have on Aspen and other communities.In contrast, Xcel Energy has just announced it plans to develop a low-greenhouse-gas emitting power plant.The Aspen City Council is also concerned because this power plant will be a large emitter of mercury. The state of Colorado has had several fish advisories, in which people were warned not to eat fish from Colorado lakes because of high mercury levels. (Coal-fired power plants are the largest human source of mercury.)The City Council urged the EPA to make strict controls conditions of approval, so the plant is a leader in greenhouse gas reductions, and does not harm visibility or pollute local lakes.For citizens interested in commenting, the EPA is accepting public comments until Oct. 27.Lee CassinEnvironmental Health DirectorCity of Aspen