Texas Pecan Alliance: Phase Out Fayette

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Fayette area growers and producers point to damage from Coal Plant Sulfur Dioxide and Acid Gases

(Austin)  Sierra  Club and representatives of pecan growers and producers in Fayette and  Colorado Counties in the Texas Pecan Alliance requested at an Austin  City Hall press conference today compensation for losses resulting from  pollution from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and City of  Austin's Fayette Power Project coal plant.

“Over  two dozen orchards and the livelihoods of my family and many of our  neighbors have been seriously impacted by the pollution from Fayette  coal plant,” said Harvey Hayek of Hayek Farm and the Texas Pecan Alliance. “In 1980, the year after the coal plant went on line, we saw the  abundant production out here drop and then in the Nineties, the trees  began to die.  Recently, I had to buy a bag of pecans at H.E.B. so my wife could make cookies.”

Hayek  and almost 50 people in the Texas Pecan Alliance met with LCRA  officials and engineers from Austin Energy and the Texas Commission on  Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on November 16.  Since the  meeting, the TCEQ is considering additional monitoring, members of  Austin City Council have set up meetings for further discussion, and the  LCRA has denied Fayette coal plant contributed to pecan industry  losses.

Dr. Neil Carman chemist and Clean Air Program Director, biochemical injury process, “Acid  pollution from the coal plant falls on the leaves causing damage  characterized by brown, dead spots, while the sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas  from the plant emissions enters the sensitive leaf structure from  underneath, biochemically attacking the leaves from within and  eventually causing leaf loss and the death of the tree.”

Mr. Hayek explained that it takes 220 leaves to produce a single pecan nut on a tree.

“This orchard has been in my wife's family for the past century.  We want to recover from this damage.  We  want the air, water, and soil to be clean and safe enough to replant so  my grandchildren can enjoy the abundance we enjoyed,” said Hayek.

Hayek,  Carman, and others in the Texas Pecan Alliance also expressed concerns  about corrosion, water quality, coal ash waste, and human health.

Eva Hernandez, with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Texas said, “The pecan industry losses clearly show one of many direct economic blows from burning coal for electricity.  From  the Clean Air Task Force study, we also know that, on an annual basis,  Fayette coal plant pollution is linked to almost 1,000 heart attacks,  asthma attacks, cases of chronic bronchitis, hospital admissions,  emergency room visits, and 37 early deaths.   There are direct costs associated with these health impacts and we are talking about a devastating reduction in quality of life.  We can do better and we deserve better.  LCRA  and City of Austin must phase out Fayette coal plant by 2020 and  completely develop our energy efficiency and renewable energy future —  particularly solar power.”

The Clean Air Task Force study, Dirty Air, Dirty Power:  Mortality and Health Damage Due to Air Pollution from Power Plants can be found at:


Texas  Pecan Alliance representatives from Fayette and Colorado county today  delivered 'Vanishing Pecan Pies' baked by Austin residents calling  themselves the Pecan Posse to the Mayor and Austin City Council Members,  Cheryl Mele, Chief Operating Officer of Austin Energy, the City  Manager's office, and to the LCRA. They explained that the pies  symbolized “the growing awareness in Austin about Fayette coal plant  pollution and growing support for clean air and sustainable conditions  for local food.”

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