Owners of the Centralia Coal Plant in Washington want as much as $80 million in state tax breaks to stop polluting the air over Mount Rainier National Park and Mount Saint Helens National Monument.
Although the Clean Air Act
requires the coal plant to install state-of-the-art scrubbers worth
$300 million, officials at PacifiCorp, the primary plant owner,
have argued such expenses would bankrupt the facility and put more
than 600 people out of work. A plan devised by the company and
several federal and state agencies asks Washington state to
The proposed $80 million tax break is "a
form of corporate welfare," says Nancy Holbrook of Northwest
Environmental Advocates. Holbrook finds the company's poverty plea
hard to swallow, noting that it recently dished out $1.6 billion to
purchase an Australian utility.
Whether or not
Washington's state Legislature decides in January to grant the tax
breaks, the coal plant will likely be forced to clean up its
stacks. A lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Northwest
Environmental Advocates has pressed the EPA to take steps towards
enforcing the Clean Air Act.