New power plant proposal called senseless and wasteful by climate groups
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Along the shores of the scenic Susquehanna River in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, a new fight is heating up. The Bechtel Corporation has laid out plans to construct a new gas-powered plant on an abandoned rail yard site in Renovo, and nearby residents and advocacy organizations are expressing concerns.
While the $1.5 billion project does have support in some sectors, Renovo Energy Center would be one of the most polluting facilities in the Commonwealth, according to the Pennsylvania-based environmental group Clean Air Council. The facility would emit over 200 tons of particulate matter every year, along with over 300 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and over 100 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Particulate matter from fossil fuel combustion and NOx gases can cause and aggravate lung ailments. VOCs are implicated in liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage, eye, nose, and throat irritation, and other neurological problems.
In April of 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an air permit for the large-scale facility, giving a green light for the project to proceed in construction at the site. However, despite numerous concerns held by nearby residents, Renovo denied these stakeholders answers to their questions at a public hearing.
Clean Air Council, PennFuture, and the Center for Biological Diversity are appealing permits issued by DEP, citing the environmental justice status of the community and the lack of citizen input to the process.
“Since renewable energy like wind and solar is cheaper and cleaner than burning fracked gas, this power plant makes no sense,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope this challenge serves as a wakeup call to DEP to do what’s right.”
- A flawed public participation process
- Creation of air pollution that exceeds permitting standard thresholds
- No commitment to local hiring
- Air pollution control technology below what is required by the Clean Air Act
- Inadequate consideration of greenhouse gas emissions in the plant’s design
- Misrepresentation of the efficacy of solar and wind power in DEP’s alternatives analysis
Clean Air Council is leading campaigns to get DEP to hold a public event, during which Renovo Energy would have the opportunity to respond to residents’ questions and concerns. Clean Air Council is also calling on the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to remove the pipeline route from public lands.
Proposed Renovo, PA Power Plant
FracTracker Alliance mapped the location of the proposed project, including the 16-inch, 6.75-mile-long pipeline that would deliver fracked gas to the plant. In addition, we looked at the demographics of the surrounding community, and found that approximately 1,360 people live within a half mile of the proposed plant.
View the map “Details” tab below in the top right corner to learn more and access the data, or click on the map to explore the dynamic version of this data. Data sources are also listed at the end of this article. In order to turn layers on and off in the map, use the Layers dropdown menu. Items will activate in this map dependent on the level of zoom in or out.
Note that there are three views available in the Bookmarks tab: A view of the proposed pipeline, a view of the demographics of the power plant’s impact area, and a view of the Leidy Hub. You can return at any time to the main view by selecting the bookmark for the proposed pipeline.
The pipeline route was carefully laid out to minimize the number of easement and access agreements necessary, and crosses only 16 parcels. All but five are owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or by private industry, including four and a quarter mile that bisect Sproul State Forest. Privately owned lands include one 1,500 tract, and others that are more modest in size.
The pipeline supplying gas to the proposed plant connects with a major gas transmission line owned by Spectra Gas. This junction is also fewer than seven miles south of the Leidy Hub, where there are three major compression stations, eight metering stations, and an underground storage facility. Numerous pipelines owned by Dominion and Williams transport gas to and from this hub.
The Take Away
Keep an eye on fractracker.org for updates on the progress of—and resistance to—this newest proposed addition to damaging fossil fuel infrastructure in Pennsylvania.
References & Where to Learn More
- Census data: Downloaded by FracTracker Alliance, May 2018, from https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/tiger-line-shapefile-2010-2010-state-pennsylvania-2010-census-block-state-based-shapefile-with-
- Renovo Pipeline: Georeferenced and digitized by FracTracker Alliance, 26 July 2021. Source: DCNR ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW, RENOVO ENERGY CENTER LLC, NATURAL GAS PIPELINE PROJECT, NOYES AND CHAPMAN TOWNSHIPS, CLINTON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA. JANUARY 6, 2017. Report prepared by Hanover Engineering, Bartonsville, PA. Project REC-1001.
- Gas infrastructure facilities: compiled from various sources and ground-truthed with aerial imagery.
- Property boundaries: Georeferenced and digitized by FracTracker Alliance, 3 August 2021. Data source: Clinton County Parcel Viewer, https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=79279a4018cc4a52a53cbf6fb17c4f3f
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