Thursday, March 26, 2009

Letter to Governor Bobby Jindal

Hon. Bobby Jindal, Governor
State of Louisiana
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Dear Governor Jindal:

On March 26, 2008 I sent you a letter expressing appreciation for your early issuance of two executive orders, one dealing with the decision-making process relative to coastal restoration programs, and another dealing with energy efficiency in state government. Energy efficiency and conservation are of great interest to the Sierra Club, given the compelling evidence of the link between combustion of fossil fuels and global climate change that could seriously impact the State of Louisiana.

We are suggesting that the governor’s office take a leadership role in guiding the State of Louisiana to a cleaner and greener economy. This can be done by setting an example in operation of state government, and by making it known that Louisiana is open for business in creation of business opportunities and new jobs in fabrication and installation of clean energy technologies.

We know from the example of other states that with the right mix of incentives and leadership, the public will respond to a wide variety of pro-conservation measures, especially when they ultimately save consumers money. We know further that in the not too distant future that the most dynamic economies will be those that see no contradiction between economic growth and a clean, healthy environment.

We proposed in our earlier letter that you could provide excellent example and create a positive image of the Governor of the State of Louisiana as being a leader in clean energy by making the Louisiana White House into an environmentally friendly Governor’s mansion. Installation of solar panels or other energy conservation measures would get positive attention statewide and nationally. We are confident that companies selling cutting edge energy conservation technology would welcome the opportunity to show off their wares at the Louisiana Governor’s mansion. Another measure that would follow through on your executive order and improve the visibility of your administration on these issues would be for you to direct your administration to include energy efficiency in the annual budget review process for state government.

Thanks for your consideration of these suggestions. We have not received a response to our March 26 letter to you. Please take this opportunity to let us know if you will act on these proposals, and what you are doing to enable energy conservation and clean jobs in our state.

Respectfully yours,

Haywood Martin, Chair
Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sierra Club Celebrates Little Gypsy Victory After A Two-Year Battle


Just thirty miles west of New Orleans along State Highway 48 is the town of Montz, Louisiana. It is the home of Little Gypsy, a natural gas plant that supplies energy to the residents of Louisiana. In 2007, Entergy Louisiana LLC announced its plans to retrofit the plant to burn coal and petroleum coke (a byproduct of oil refining) instead of natural gas in order to diversify the fuel mix.

Entergy designed the plans for Little Gypsy with the intent of both varying Louisiana’s electricity sources as well as mitigating the continually rising costs of natural gas for consumers. However, as the nation experienced significant economic changes, finance and environmental legislation became two important factors for the repowering project.

In 2007, Entergy had originally estimated the retrofit to cost approximately $1 billion. In October 2007, their proposal was approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC), despite objections made by the Sierra Club. Sierra Club representatives were among the first to predict the financial problems that would inevitably bring the construction plans to a halt. We filed a complaint with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2008 concerning Entergy’s failure to adequately assess future costs and emission regulations. Two months later, we followed up with an additional request to the LPSC to reconsider the permit as

In June 2008, Sierra Club along with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the Alliance for Affordable Energy and the Gulf Restoration Network filed suit against the LPSC’s approval of Entergy’s plans under the Clean Air Act for exceeding the regulations for toxic emissions including mercury, lead and arsenic.

Researchers from the Histecon Associate group, hired by the Sierra Club and affiliates to assess the Little Gypsy construction plans, say that the cost of coal is increasing at a rate of 16% per year. In early 2009, Entergy reported that new environmental regulations, increased costs of construction and labor, and inadequate financing options, Little Gypsy project would be estimated to cost an upwards of $1.76 billion. However, this estimate only includes environmental regulations that have been put in place within the first few months of the Obama administration. In addition to the existing regulations, extensive greenhouse gas emission regulations are expected to be implemented. Considering that coal plants
are the number one source of human derived greenhouse gas emissions, these regulations could increase the cost of the retrofit by another one-third to one-half.

These substantial fiscal changes convinced Entergy that the benefits of the retrofit to the company and consumers would not be realized for another 13 years or more. Not only are the benefits becoming more distant in the future, but they are also decreasing in relevance. The rising natural gas prices Entergy sought to avoid have since stopped and began to fall with the discovery of the Haynesville shale formation, leaving the company with one less reason to convert Little Gypsy.

After filing several additional petitions opposing the Entergy permits to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and Environmental Protection Agency, the LSPC ordered Entergy to review their construction plans to convert Little Gypsy on March 11th, 2009. Less than one month later, Entergy Louisiana LLC formally asked the LPSC for permission to suspend the project for a minimum of three years, at which point the project will be eligible for review. Sierra Club representatives believe that the delay is long enough to allow the continually increasing costs of coal to put the project on hold indefinitely.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Letter from the Delta Chapter Chair on the Clean Water Restoration Act

March 4, 2009

Congressman Charles Boustany
1117 Longworth House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515-1807

Dear Congressman Boustany,

This is to express our appreciation for the meeting in the Longworth House Office Building on Feb 26, 2009 with you and Ryan Evans, Legislative Correspondent. The meeting was attended by me as Chair of the Delta (Louisiana) Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network. We work together as member participants in the Clean Water Network. The Clean Water Network (CWN) is a coalition of more than 1,200 public interest organizations across the country, representing more than 5 million people, working to strengthen and implement federal clean water and wetlands policy.

We hope to obtain your support for The Clean Water Restoration Act, introduced last year as H.R. 2421 and S. 1870. We are greatly concerned that internal documents obtained by Chairman James Oberstar of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Chairman Henry Waxman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, indicate that USEPA has dropped or de-prioritized over 500 Clean Water Act enforcement cases since July 2007 because of questions about whether the waters that the polluters discharged into are still covered by the Clean Water Act. It appears that EPA was using a restrictive interpretation of Rapanos v. United States to issue guidance in 2007 that resulted in greatly reduced jurisdictional coverage for the Clean Water Act.

Information obtained by CWN shows that in Louisiana 24 percent of the population is served by source water areas receiving flow from streams that would not be protected under this more restrictive interpretation of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. We are also concerned about the impact that increased water pollution could have on the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia problem (The Dead Zone) and gulf fisheries. We strongly believe that Congress must act to fix this problem and we ask for your support for Clean Water Restoration Act legislation when it is re-introduced.

The second subject of our discussion was the continued funding of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Our concern comes from the fact that funding for the State Revolving Funds for water infrastructure had been seriously declining over a number of years. We want to voice our support for adequate funding for these very important water infrastructure programs.

We very much appreciate the meeting and this chance to express our concerns for Clean Water nationally and in the State of Louisiana. I would be happy to follow up with any additional information or discussion that may be helpful to you in considering these important issues.


Haywood R. Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter