Open Letter to Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Concerning the Proposed Marshalltown Coal Plant

To: Chris Roling, Department of Natural Resources
Subject: Comment on Interstate Power and Light Application for an Air Quality Permit

Dear Mr. Roling:

I am a resident of Johnson County, Iowa and Chair of the Johnson County Board of Health. I request that the application for Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air quality construction permits of Interstate Power and Light regarding IPL – Sutherland Station be denied.

Here are my concerns:

The permit does not address fine particulate matter, PM2.5, that would be emitted by the proposed power plant and its potential health consequences for people in the plume. In Iowa, the study of fine particulate matter is an emerging science. In the study released last year, there was no monitor situated in Marshall County to establish a baseline against current air quality attainment standards. Establishing a PM2.5 baseline in Marshall County, before approving construction of the power plant, would be reasonable and important to the health of people living in the area of the plume. Recent events in the Port of Los Angeles serve as an example. A study of fine particulates released into the atmosphere was conducted. The results of the study led the government to change regulations regarding their release after the negative health impact (increased incidence of asthma and cardio respiratory disease) upon local residential populations became known. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources should consider the health consequences of the proposed coal plant, as it relates to PM2.5, even though it may not be part of the current regulations.

The permit application does not address carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide release is currently not regulated, but may soon be. This greenhouse gas emission has deleterious effects upon the environment and is a significant contributing cause of the planet’s warming. There is broad consensus in the scientific community that continued warming of the planet would have grave human health consequences. There should be no rush to approval of this plant, as alternative forms of electricity generating capacity are reasonably available to meet consumer needs over the near term. In particular, wind power generation does not create carbon dioxide emissions and is economically feasible in Iowa. Releasing additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with the proposed power plant, does not reflect sound public policy. Absent an economic need, a plan to release more carbon dioxide is plain wrong.

The release of mercury from the proposed power plant has not been adequately addressed by the application. The negative health consequences of environmental mercury on human populations is well known. This heavy metal travels far beyond the statutory plume when released from a coal power generating plant such as that proposed by Iowa Power and Light.

For example, studies of non-naturally occurring mercury in California, Oregon and Washington indicate that more than half is deposited from the plume of coal power generating plants located across the Pacific Ocean in China. As is the case with carbon dioxide emissions, releasing additional mercury and other heavy metals into the atmosphere is unnecessary to meet Iowa’s energy needs, as alternatives are economically feasible.

Thank you for consideration of my comments on this application. If you would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Paul Deaton

~ Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County.  E-mail Paul Deaton


Public Comment Period Now Open

may be submitted in writing before 4:30 p.m. on the last day of
the public comment period to Chris Roling, Air Quality Bureau, Iowa
Department of Natural Resources, 7900 Hickman Road Ste 1, Urbandale, IA
50322.  E-mail Chris Roling

Four public meetings (two each at two locations) are scheduled:

    * March 16, 2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
      Iowa Veterans’ Home, Whitehill Chapel, 1501 Summit Street Marshalltown

    * March 16, 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
      Iowa Veterans’ Home, Marshalltown

    * March 17, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
      Meskwaki Tribal Center, 346 Meskwaki Road, Tama

    * March 17, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
      Meskwaki Tribal Center, Tama

Comments at the public meetings will be limited to five minutes. Presentations shall include a hard copy for inclusion into public record.

All documents for this project are available on the DNR Air Quality Bureau’s Web site

This entry was posted in Main Page. Bookmark the permalink.