Cel­e­brate clos­ing of ‘Dirty’ Deely

San Antonio Express-News - - FROM THE COVER - By Bri­auna Bar­rera

On Dec. 31, CPS En­ergy will ring in the new year by shut­ting down one of its two coal-fired power plants.

Sit­u­ated at Calav­eras Lake in the deep Southeast Side of San An­to­nio, two loom­ing coal plants sit like an­gry giants. From their bod­ies, stream­ing clouds of pol­lut­ing smoke rise. This smoke, filled with mi­cro­scopic pieces of poi­son, finds its way into ev­ery­thing: our land, our air, our wa­ter and our bod­ies. There is no crack too small, no re­source too pro­tected, no per­son too healthy to evade the poi­son that emits from th­ese be­he­moths.

The poi­son from th­ese coal plants greatly con­trib­utes to the facts that San An­to­nio leads the state in child hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates from asthma, is in­creas­ingly get­ting hot­ter, is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing more and more drought, and has air so pol­luted it no longer meets fed­eral stan­dards for air qual­ity.

In gen­eral, coal con­trib­utes to an ar­ray of in­tensely harm­ful ef­fects on pub­lic health, such as in­creas­ing chances of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and the re­lease of mer­cury and lead, which de­te­ri­o­rate the ner­vous and im­mune sys­tems.

The good news is JT “Dirty” Deely will soon no longer be able to re­lease poi­son.

There is a soot-col­ored line in this mon­u­men­tal news: The Spruce coal-fired power plant is stay­ing open with no shut-off date set. While Deely has a to­tal ca­pac­ity for en­ergy pro­duc­tion at 932 megawatts, Spruce’s to­tal ca­pac­ity is 1,336 megawatts, and it runs more of­ten. In a re­port re­leased in 2013 called “Amer­ica’s Dirt­i­est Power Plants,” Deely didn't make the list, but Spruce came in 67th place. While one pol­lut­ing gi­ant top­ples, an­other will con­tinue, with­out any stop in sight, as con­firmed in CPS En­ergy’s “Flex­i­ble Path” en­ergy gen­er­a­tion plan that projects burn­ing one of Spruce’s two units into the 2040s and pos­si­bly even longer.

How­ever, de­spite the con­tin­ued use of Spruce, a cel­e­bra­tion is in or­der. It is a cel­e­bra­tion that grounds us in the ac­com­plish­ments of now, while po­si­tion­ing us to­ward the hori­zon of progress still to be made. At this hori­zon stands a world with no coal plants and no nat­u­ral gas in­fra­struc­ture. A world where chil­dren never strug­gle to breathe, where work­ers have se­cure jobs in safe set­tings, where the planet and our bod­ies are free of pol­lu­tion from fos­sil fu­els. The time­line to reach this hori­zon is ur­gent, but it is a hori­zon that is within reach and comes with as­sur­ance of bet­ter and health­ier lives for all life on our shared plan­e­tary home.

The Cli­mate Ac­tion SA coali­tion — which con­sists of dozens of en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial jus­tice or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing Pub­lic Cit­i­zen — is throw­ing a party to cel­e­brate this amaz­ing mo­ment. Come ready to eat, drink and dance! We are com­ing to­gether to cel­e­brate cleaner air, wa­ter and land, for bet­ter health for the peo­ple and en­vi­ron­ment of San An­to­nio and the sur­round­ing ar­eas, and to start to re­al­ize the bet­ter world we know we could achieve through a rapid, just tran­si­tion to re­new­able en­ergy.

The Dirty Deely Coal Plant Shut­down Cel­e­bra­tion will take place Dec. 15 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Gal­le­ria Guadalupe, 723 S. Bra­zos St., in San An­to­nio.

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