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Residents address Environmental Protection Agency over power plant concerns

By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas -- Residents in far east El Paso County once again voiced their concerns about the power plant set to go up near their homes.

This time, residents spoke to members of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The signs are up and crews are at work on the corner of Zaragoza Road and Montana Avenue.

Despite heavy opposition for months from residents who live nearby, it looks like El Paso Electric has no plans to stop the construction of the power plant in far east El Paso County.

"I can't expect my family to just pack up and move. Because of what (El Paso Electric) is doing," said one concerned resident.

Person after person gave emotional testimony tonight all against the proposed plant.

"It has been up to the residents to protect their environment," said another resident.

"They didn't think that this little community at Montana Vista would come together," another resident said.

But EPA officials made it clear: they were here for only one reason.

"We are here for a hearing only on the greenhouse gas portion of this permit or proposed permit of this facility," said Jeff Robinson, Environmental Protection Agency chief of air permits for Region 6.

As we've reported, the plant, when done, will power 80,000 homes and El Paso Electric officials said the emissions from the plant won't pose any health hazards.

But a recently released application from El Paso Electric to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for an air quality permit shows the plant will emit contaminants such as carbon monoxide, sulfuric acid and ammonia, to name a few.

The EPA though has nothing to do with that. It only regulates greenhouse gases in the state of Texas.

"That's not typically something you're going to see a noticeable direct impact on a local level. It is a global pollutant," Robinson said.

This, however, didn't silence many who feel they've been failed by the very agency in place to protect their surroundings.

"Ultimately, the goal if we issue a permit is to, especially in this case with greenhouse gases, is that based on the proposed project that we're getting the most efficient, especially energy efficient project that can be built," Robinson said.

The EPA told KFOX14 it will take this testimony into account and then make a recommendation to higher-ups whether to grant or deny the permit.



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