Environmentalists sue over US coal subsidies

News web pic 2_115.jpg
Environmental groups in the US are taking the government to court over its plans to subsidise new coal-fired power plants.

The Sierra Club, Citizens for Clean Energy, and the Montana Environmental Information Centre have filed a complaint against low-interest loans provided by the US Department of Agriculture through its Rural Utilities Service (RUS) programme - money which can be used as a cash-injection for new coal power stations.

The groups are focussing on a planned 250 MW plant in Montana. If built, environmentalists say that the money provided through the RUS to the plant would violate the National Environmental Policy Act, because the environmental impact has not been assessed, nor alternatives considered.

The RUS has plans to offer loans out to at least seven more coal plants across the country, with a generating capacity of 3,400 MW. But environmental group EarthJustice told EFFinance News that the benefits to consumers which RUS is meant to fulfil could be better met by wind power.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist July 2007