Colorado

Dec 29, 2009 8:18 PM by David Ortiviz

Sierra Club concerned about Pueblo's air quality

Pueblo City Council members have approved a deal that could bring a $500 million power generating complex to Pueblo. This may be a victory for Black Hills Energy and city government, but the Sierra Club says it may have a huge impact on public health.

With talk of these two power plants possibly being built in Pueblo, the Sierra Club is worried the city's air quality is going down the drain. "Pueblo's being used as a pollution sink, primarily to produce power for people in other places," said Ross Vincent, Chair of the Sangre De Cristo Group of the Sierra Club.

Vincent says the proposed plants would use natural gas which is cleaner than coal. "But we would much prefer to see them use, wind or solar, or other truly clean renewable energy," said Vincent.

Pueblo's air pollution doesn't now exceed government standards. However, Vincent is worried we're not far from that ceiling, especially with the steel mill and two large coal-fired electric generating plants and another soon to begin operations.  "There is a brown cloud over Pueblo on some days, especially in cold weather," said Vincent. "So it's coming. We're going to begin to see some of the same problems that Denver has and Colorado Springs," he added.

His critics argue the Black Hills Energy project, will bring up to 40 new jobs to Pueblo, help boost city coffers and create enough energy for future growth. But Vincent says there could be backlash. "Eventually and probably in the foreseeable future it's going to be a barrier to future economic development in this community, because we have allowed all of this unnecessary pollution to occur."

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