A state agency has finalized new regulations covering emissions standards for power plants in Arkansas, drawing objections from environmentalists who say the rules are weak, and revealing in the details that Entergy Arkansas will cease to burn coal at its plant in Redfield in 2028.
The Arkansas Sierra Club highlighted Entergy’s Redfield plant, known as White Bluff, and its Independence coal plant near Newark as “Arkansas’ biggest air polluters” in its response to the new guidelines from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, which were issued Thursday.
In a statement provided by Entergy representative Kerri Jackson Case, the investor-owned company said that under the plan it will begin burning only low-sulfur coal at the plants in three years and will stop coal-fired generation entirely in Redfield 10 years from now. Entergy, which serves more than 700,000 customers in the state, is Arkansas’ largest electric utility.
The Independence and White Bluff plants have both been listed among the “100 Dirtiest Coal-Fired Power Stations” by Environment America, a public action group. But Entergy said it has made great strides in reducing air emissions over the past decades, pointing to sulfur dioxide outputs that have declined by more than 60 percent since 2000.
“Entergy operates one of the cleanest generating fleets in the country, as noted in the Benchmarking Air Emissions report available here,” the Entergy statement said.
The new ADEQ state plan replaces federal standards issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency several years ago. The Sierra Club said that Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri face significant impacts on air quality because of the two Entergy plants.
“Simply put: ADEQ’s plan makes our state’s air quality worse, not better,” Arkansas Sierra Club Director Glen Hooks said in a press statement. “The former regional haze plan in place required Arkansas’ oldest and dirtiest coal-burning power plants to install pollution controls that would improve air quality and visibility. ADEQ’s weak replacement plan lets the polluters off the hook by requiring virtually no action.”
Entergy, however, said it agrees with ADEQ that the new plan meets goals for improving air quality and visibility. “This is an ongoing process,” the statement said. “Entergy Arkansas’ support of ADEQ and the SIP [State Implementation Plan] aligns with the company’s goal of providing safe, clean and dependable electricity in a way that economically benefits our customers.”
The company said that along with its plans to cease coal-burning at Redfield in 2028 and burning lower-sulphur coal, it will also burn only natural gas at its Lake Catherine Plant at Jones Mill in Hot Spring County.