Monday, January 28, 2013

Controversial Corpus Christi Power Project Shelved

Bowing to opposition from physicians and environmental groups concerned about air pollution, Chase Power, the parent company of the Las Brisas Energy Center, suspended a $3 billion coke-fuel electricity project planned for Corpus Christi. Chase Power Chief Executive Officer Dave Freysinger said market conditions and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory policies prompted the decision.

Corpus Christi allergy and asthma specialist Wesley Stafford, MD, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health, knows all too well just how damaging air pollution can be. His patients frequently suffer increased respiratory disease symptoms when air quality is poor. He and other opponents of the plant warned it would endanger the public’s health by emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants. TMA, Nueces County Medical Society (NCMS), and environmental organizations encouraged Las Brisas to invest in cleaner, more efficient energy alternatives.

In an email to opponents of the project, Dr. Stafford, thanked "those who fought hard and long" to block the plant, including his colleagues at NCMS "who were willing to make us the first medical society in the State of Texas to make a stand against an industrial facility that would pollute the air and make people sick." Dr. Stafford also thanked TMA "who supported that stand," and "everyone else who took part in the fight against these guys."

Last April, Dr. Stafford told Texas Medicine, TMA’s monthly physician publication, that backing by TMA, NCMS, and environmental groups helped build awareness of the Las Brisas project and the detrimental health impact it could have on the area's residents. Community physicians testified against the plant to the Corpus Christi City Council and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. "We can either watch as our patients develop diseases and even die — because of the quality of air we breathe — or we can go public and work to reduce and reverse the progressive deterioration of the environment we live in," he said.

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