Pennsylvania county approves waste coal power plant

Officials in Washington County, Pennsylvania, have approved plans for a coal-fired power plant that would burn some of the region's massive "gob piles," mounds of waste generated from coal mining that include large amounts of low-end coal. 

The Pittsburgh Tribune reports that that Robinson Power Co. LLC received approval for the project in Robinson Township after several years of wrangling, largely on the decision to split the power plant. In addition to a coal-fired generation plant, Robinson will also construct a natural gas-fired power plant, each of which will be capable of producing 150 megawatts of power. 

Initially the project was designed as a single 300-megawatt coal power plant, but the addition of the natural gas plant should help to cut emissions anywhere from 50 to 60 percent. 

Located among the 400-acre Champion coal waste piles, the largest gob pile east of the Mississippi River, this waste coal-fired generation was actually a prominent goal of state legislators in years past, as a means of reducing the massive waste piles scattered around Pennsylvania. 

But this approach has drawn criticism from environmental groups like the Sierra Club because of the low quality of the coal being burned. 

Information on emissions controls for coal plants can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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