To Boldly Go Beyond Coal in Holyoke

Rick_Purcell_70.jpg The Mount Tom Coal plant in Holyoke has been in operation since 1960. It has been polluting Holyoke, Pioneer Valley and Western Massachusetts for 52 years.  By Polluting I mean every Human, Animal, Plant, and Water Body has been subjected to mercury pollution every year, as well as arsenic, lead and acid gases putting every living species at risk.

The Mount Tom Coal Plant's current owners are FirstLight Power Resources and GDF Suez North America. The plant can generate 146,000 kilowatts, or enough to meet the electrical demands of a city twice the size of Holyoke. The plant can burn 1.200 tons of coal daily. From 2007 to 2009 First Light installed $55 million worth of air pollution-control equipment after the state determined it was the second largest polluter in the state. Talk about the Wheels of Government moving slowly. The Plant discharged muddy storm water over 5 months during the construction work in violation of a federal permit. The EPA fined the Owners  over $170,000 and the EPA settled with them for $40,814 for violating the federal clean water laws. Proof money can buy you Love. In Nov, 2011 the Plants union officials said that half of the plant's 60 employees will be laid off because the plant is not operating often enough to warrant its present level of Staffing. I hope you are keeping track, Polluting, breaking federal laws, and now laying off workers. Its is time to STOP the madness, and time to START the process of Boldly Going Beyond Coal in Holyoke.

The beginning of the process has started on 10/19/2011 the Holyoke City Council unanimously voted to pass a resolution to form a Community Advisory Group that will conduct a study on potential future uses of the Mt. Tom coal plant site. The resolution was offered by Council members Rebecca Lisi, Kevin Jourdain, Tim Purrington, and Aaron Vega. The Advisory Group of a Dozen would consist of at least one resident from each of the seven wards chosen by the Mayor in consultation with other leaders and community groups. Also the committee would be representives of the Board of Health, Board of Assessors, Planning Board and Conservation Commission.

Ahh. (Action for a Healthy Holyoke), is a diverse coalition of concerned citizens from Holyoke's seven wards (representing diverse racial, ethnic, class, and professional backgrounds) preferred re-use plan would ensure healthy, good green living wage jobs, and clean energy for Western Massachusetts. Other groups involved in the process to replace the plant when it retires are two community based organizations (Neighbor to Neighbor- MA and Nuestras Raices) two regional enviromental law and public health groups (Conservation Law Foundation and Toxics Action Center), and a national enviromental organization (Sierra Club).

Showing 4 reactions

  • Jeffrey Reel
    commented 2012-11-18 14:30:30 -0500
    It is my hope that the Green Rainbow Party will:

    1. Align itself with 350 Massachusetts (part of in a campaign to get schools and universities to divest from oil companies and fossil fuel companies. This will also serve to attract many eager young students to the GRP.

    2. Adopt Jeremy Rifkin’s 5 Pillars (of the Third Industrial Revolution, which is making inroads in the EU and, soon perhaps, China). (Smart Grids: Micro-Generation: Laterally-Distributed Power. Figuratively, and quite literally, power to the people.)
  • Joanna Herlihy
    commented 2012-02-18 22:40:30 -0500
    Thanks for this, Rick. Will you keep us posted on how the Community Advisory process is going? How does it mesh with Action for Healthy Holyoke? Is it limited to 12 members? If so, sounds as though there isn’t room for CLF, Toxics Action and Sierra Club people. Are they serving as advisors?

    For some reason, I had thought that hydro power was very important in Holyoke. Was that 100 years ago?
  • Richard Purcell
    followed this page 2012-02-18 22:30:13 -0500
  • Richard Purcell
    published this page in Climate and Energy Blog 2012-02-18 12:45:00 -0500