Companies Want Dirty Power Plants Near Wildlife Refuge

By Matt Baume
|  Sunday, Jan 23, 2011  |  Updated 7:00 AM PDT
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Companies Want Dirty Power Plants Near Wildlife Refuge

The State of California

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An old-fashioned gas-burning power plant could spell doom for a sensitive wildlife preserve in Antioch.

Several power companies have built or intend to build gas-powered plants close to the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, a dune habitat that once stretched all the way to the Mojave Desert.

PG&E's plant is already in operation. Mirant and Radback Energy both have plants to construct nearby facilities of their own.

Environmentalists are strongly opposed, pointing out that the burning of fossil fuel will contribute to climate change by releasing carbon dioxide. The plants would also release nitrogen into the surrounding air, according to the Bay Citizen.

That's particularly worrisome because the nitrogen could fertilize invasive plants. In turn, those plants could choke out native species like butterflies and flowers.

The EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service are keeping a close eye on the plants, and could force them to add additional environmental protections. Emerging science indicates that they may be more harmful than was known just a few years ago.

The electricity would be used by a variety of surrounding municipalities, including San Francisco, which recently began a program called "Community Choice Aggregation" that would allow residents to choose cleaner energy sources.

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