Can power-plant victory presage greening of Hayward?
On Oct. 8, after a fierce two-year legal battle, for the first time ever the California Energy Commission denied the licensing and certification of a power plant, the Eastshore Energy Center planned for Hayward.
An impressive coalition came together to stop this polluting fossil-fuel plant from spewing its pollution onto low-income and minority neighborhoods and the endangered species of the Bay. The Sierra Club Southern Alameda County Group joined with organizations as varied as Pacific Environment, Students for Social Justice, Greenpeace, Citizens Against Pollution, the Hayward Area Planning Association, the California Pilots Association, the San Lorenzo Homeowners Association, and Communities for a Better Environment. Political leaders opposing the plant included Assemblymember Mary Hayashi, state Sen. Don Perata (who left office in December), Rep. Pete Stark, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Board of Trustees, and the Hayward City Council.
The victory in Hayward has created hope. Hope that children can grow without the increased asthma risk from the power plants. Hope that their elders will not experience the increased risk of respiratory failure. Hope that Calpine's Russell City power plant, five times larger than Eastshore and also planned for Hayward, can also be stopped. Hope for stopping the 25 other polluting fossil-fuel plants now being planned for other California communities.
These hopes are already bringing results to Hayward. The city has formed a sustainability committee, and passed one of the most progressive green-building ordinances in the country. It has begun a climate action plan. Green businesses are moving in to Hayward. Chabot College is considering an environmental-studies program. The community is aligned as never before to protect the environment.
Now we must stand together to stop the Calpine plant, which would be the fifth-biggest polluter in the entire Bay Area, emitting 1.8 million tons of pollution and greenhouse gases into the community per year, directly adjacent to the wetlands of the Bay, with Chabot College, Eden Gardens Elementary School, and Ochoa Middle School all slated to be maximum-impact locations.
Currently there are three active venues for fighting the Calpine plant.
- PG&E, which is slated to purchase the plant's power, has petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission for a rate increase to cover the costs of Calpine's dirty electricity.
- The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a pollution permit for the facility, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency revoked it because the Air District had not properly informed the public of the health threat. The District is about to consider a new permit.
- The Hayward City Council approved this project on city land before the environmental review had taken place, but it still has the authority to withdraw. We must inspire councilmembers to acknowledge that their responsibility lies with protecting the community, not their $10 million deal with Calpine.
Weyman Lee, P.E.
Senior Air Quality Engineer
Bay Area Air Quality Management District
939 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA, 94109
weyman -at- baaqmd.gov
Ask the District to deny the proposed Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permit for the Russell City Energy Center. The deadline for comments is Thu., Jan. 22; please write promptly.
The District will be holding a hearing on the permit on Wed., Jan. 21, at 6:30 pm in the Hayward City Council chambers, 777 B St. Please attend, wearing red, and speak up (three minutes maximum) against the power plant.
Sign an on-line petition opposing the Calpine Russell City plant.
To become more involved in the Sierra Club's efforts to stop the Calpine Russell City power plant, contact conservation organizer or call (510) 848-0800, ext. 312