It’s time to clear the air regarding legislation ensuring a responsible, well-planned transition for Washington state beyond dirty, outdated coal. First, let’s establish why we need legislation.
We need to phase out coal-burning for power production to protect Washington families from harmful health effects. And we have a moral responsibility to phase out coal-burning at the TransAlta plant in a way that strengthens the local economy and takes care of the community. The sooner we act, the better.
The coal-fired generating facility in Centralia is Washington’s only coal-fired power plant. TransAlta, the Canadian energy company that owns the plant, has not offered any plan to phase out coal, though they have stated they agree it needs to happen. Right now, TransAlta has no legal obligation to stop burning coal in Washington, ever. While Gov. Chris Gregoire urged 2025 as a closure deadline in her 2009 executive order, it’s merely a goal. There is no agreement in place.
TransAlta’s power plant has health and environmental impacts that have been documented by health professionals, air pollution authorities, the Yakama Tribe and the superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park, among numerous others who have testified before the Environment, Water & Energy Committee.
TransAlta is the largest greenhouse gas and mercury polluter in our state. It produces around 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year, 10 percent of our state’s total emissions, and emits more than 400 pounds of mercury annually — in addition to other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and fine particulates.