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Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit Filed Against TVA

Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit Filed Against TVA


On November 28, 2012, the Sierra Club announced it was filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  The lawsuit states that the TVA failed to operate with transparency while it was taking public comments about a $1 billion project to continue the Gallatin coal plant. 

The TVA announced that it would stop taking public comments after November 30, but the Sierra Club claims that it failed to provide the public about environmental safety information in connection with its plan on the Gallatin coal plant.  The plans include the construction 150-foot ash landfills in wetlands near Old Hickory Lake. 

The Sierra Club admits that the lawsuit is a last-ditch effort to stop reconstruction plans on the aging coal plant.  In addition to the lawsuit, the Sierra Club has purchased online advertisement rights on three local newspaper websites and asked TVA to invest in clean energy solutions instead of focusing on again coal plants. 

Louise Gorenflo, the lead volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Tennessee, stated: “TVA wants to spend more than one billion dollars to keep an aging, obsolete coal plant running.  To add insult to injury, TVA officials are trying to limit public comment so they can plow forward with their expensive and dangerous plan.  We’re taking these steps now to ensure that TVA can’t make billion-dollar decisions without public input.” 

The Sierra Club states that TVA has discouraged public comment since the beginning.  Officials with TVA only allowed 30 days of public comments, but public concern allowed for an extension of 14 days.  TVA is still withholding information that the Sierra Club asserts is public information. 

The Sierra Club partnered with an analysis firm called Synapse Energy Economics in August 2012 to show that the older coal plants operated by TVA were uneconomical to operate.  TVA decided to spend one billion dollars on making the coal plant meet current Clean Air standards, but the Sierra Club claims the renovations will affect ratepayers for decades.  To back up their claim, the Sierra Club has proved that an energy efficiency savings program can reduce enough energy consumption to shut down the Gallatin coal plant for good. 

An analysis by TVA also proved energy savings of 1.2 percent could phase out the Gallatin plant, but TVA still insists on updating the coal-fired plant. 

Vanessa Pierce, the Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in the Eastern Region, states: “TVA has an obligation to its ratepayers and the people who live in the Tennessee Valley.  Rate hike after rate hike – with no real investment in the clean energy future – is no longer acceptable.  TVA has the opportunity to phase out an obsolete and polluting coal plant in favor of energy efficiency.  The right choice is clear.” 

Source: Sierra Club