"All this is about is enforcing existing law," says Allison Kelly of the Georgia AirKeepers, a member group behind the Georgia Environmental Enforcement Project. "All the other power plants in the state have to comply. We think these should, too."
This week, the project will file a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking to re-open the permitting process for three aging coal-fired power plants in Cartersville, Macon and Savannah. Like many similar plants around the country built between the '40s and '60s, the plants were "grandfathered" in when tougher air standards were enacted 20 years ago, as long as any major improvements at the plants include new technology to reduce pollution.
But, says Kelly, the state allowed the plants to increase their power and install major new equipment without requiring the mandated pollution-control devices.
John Sell, spokesman for Georgia Power, which operates plants in Macon and Cartersville, said the environmentalists "are trying to pre-judge the EPA lawsuit before it's gone to court."