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Another Two Bite the Dust

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Tallahassee, FL -- The biggest coal-burning power plant still on the drawing board was planned right next to Everglades National Park by Florida Power and Light. But the Glades plant, which the Sierra Club had challenged before the Florida Public Service Commission, won't be happening after all. The PSC rejected it yesterday 4-0, saying that it wasn't needed and was too costly.

Significantly, for the first time, a state regulatory agency denied a coal-burner permit because of the likelihood that ratepayers would have to bear the cost of mitigating a plant's carbon dioxide emissions. Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who was known to be concerned about Florida becoming a magnet for coal plants, celebrated the decision, saying,

I have been concerned about both the proposed technology and the location of the Glades Power Park. For those reasons, I believe the Public Service Commission has made the right choice. As we seek to address the challenges presented by global climate change, leadership of the caliber demonstrated today by the Public Service Commission will be essential to our success.

Sierra Club staff attorney Joanne Spalding lauded the PSC decision, stating,

In rejecting FP&L's Everglades coal plant, the PSC recognized that Florida residents cannot afford the costs of a massive new coal plant that will emit millions of tons of carbon dioxide and hundreds of pounds of mercury each year, harming the Everglades and exacerbating the impacts of climate change.

After the ruling, FPL stock declined by 2.5 percent -- another signal to Wall Street that investments in utilities planning coal burning powerplants are a risky investment. After TXU and Kansas City Power and Light abandoned coal, and with coal fight after coal fight coming down against Big Carbon, investors should be getting plenty wary.

And the Glades plant wasn't the only bad energy idea that got what it deserved, In Arizona, the Corporation Commission sided with the Sierra Club and voted 5-0 to deny Southern California Edison a permit for the Devers-Palo Verde Transmission Line, which had been routed right across important and sensitive wildlife habitat, including the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. By denying the permit, the commission sent a powerful message that energy interests operating in Arizona will have to come up with smart--not just lucrative--solutions.

What is happening here is truly revolutionary. As each city or state makes smart decisions about their energy future, it's not like other cities and states are rushing in to compete for these bad projects -- which is what would have have happened historically. Instead, we are seeing a race to the top, where governors and mayors compete with each other for excellence, partly due to environmental concerns, yes, but also to a great extent because they believe that being green is now the key to economic development.