On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Dallas Morning News published a story on the cover of its Business section that raises the issue of why Luminant would continue to pursue a mine expansion permit started in July of 2010. The reporter makes a connection between the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and this permitting action. It is important for readers, our employees and our advocates to understand the context of this story. Here are the facts:In July 2010, Luminant submitted a surface mining permit application with the Railroad Commission of Texas requesting approval to expand its existing Thermo Mine.
The application requests a standard five-year mine permit.
Luminant proposed to expand because the current mine area is nearing the end of its productive lifespan. This would enable us to have a permit in place to support future needs for lignite fuel that might arise.
We are in a business and industry with a very long lead time for most capital expenditures. Business decisions, permitting, design, construction and other factors can take years to develop and complete.
If a mine is idled or closed, we can still receive a permit and hold it for future options.
Related to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule:
The planning and permit application were started well before CSAPR was ever proposed or finalized.
It is very important to note that EPA has recently proposed revisions to the rule that was published as final in August. Further, an increasing number of states and bipartisan lawmakers have voiced ongoing concerns about this rule.
There is still uncertainty with this rule:
- The EPA announced proposed revisions in early October due to various errors in the rule.
- Luminant has filed a lawsuit and a request for a stay, both of which are still unresolved.
Given these parallel tracks and the uncertainty, we made a very reasonable decision to keep all the company's options open, and that means continuing existing permitting processes.
During this time of uncertainty we will continue to fight to preserve Luminant jobs and facilities, and the men and women of Luminant will do what they always do, which is to operate our plants and mines as safely as possible.
We appreciate the support of the large and bipartisan group of supporters that share our CSAPR-related concerns, and will continue our advocacy and legal efforts.
Here is the full text of the two statements we sent to the Dallas Morning News before the story was published on Saturday:
"The Thermo Mine expansion permit process was started with the Railroad Commission of Texas in July of 2010. To be clear, it is not "another mine" – it is a new permit for an existing mine. The process was started because the current mine area is nearing the end of its productive lifespan. This would enable us to have a permit in place to support future needs for lignite fuel that might arise."
"We are in a business and industry with a very long lead time for most capital expenditures. Business decisions, permitting, design, construction and other factors can take years to develop and complete. As such, we enter into a certain process with a regulatory agency when we start a permitting process. After that process, and after the permit is awarded, we could then hold it or we can use it based on current or future needs and plans.
"In this instance, we started that permitting process long before the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was ever announced. So, as I mentioned this morning, if and when we are granted a permit for potential expansion at a mine, it would enable us to have it in place to support future needs for lignite fuel that might arise.
"As for CSAPR: We have said all along that we are hopeful the EPA will make changes to the rule so we can preserve jobs and generation. The EPA has offered proposed revisions to the rule. Further, there is a separate legal track underway that has not yet played out. So we believe it is prudent to continue this permitting process."