250 rally against a coal-fired plant

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6 2008 12:32 a.m. MST

ST. GEORGE — Slogans, T-shirts, campaign buttons, snacks, pleas for donations and speeches galore dominated a rally in St. George on Super Tuesday — but the topic had nothing to do with political candidates.

"The topics we address tonight are very urgent," the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Episcopal bishop of Utah, said during remarks she made at the "Love Your Air — Stop Toquop" rally held at the St. George Episcopal Church.

"The Episcopal Church has taken a forward effort on sustainability. It is time for us to take a great deal more wisdom and thought into what we do," she said. "We are the only creatures on Earth that can contemplate the ramifications of our actions."

The rally, which attracted more than 250 residents, was billed as a way for individuals to voice their opposition to the Toquop Energy Project, a $1.2 billion coal-fired power plant to be constructed on 650 acres about 12 miles northwest of Mesquite. The plant would generate 750-megawatts of electricity for Nevada and Arizona customers, according to Toquop officials.

"The fact is we are trying to meet a huge power need with the best location that we can find, and we are trying to build the most environmentally responsible plant that we can," said Toquop spokesman Frank Maisano. "It will be the cleanest coal plant to be built in the United States."

Those guarantees mean little to Craig Booth, a physician who spoke at the St. George rally.

"I have seen way too many people die of pollution-related illnesses," said Booth, who has worked with patients in Utah's Dixie for over 34 years. "If this is such a sweet plant, build it on the other side of Mesquite or in downtown Los Angeles. People moved here for the clean air. All coal-fired power plants are polluting. Even a modest increase in air pollution impacts your health."

It was the second major rally against the Toquop Energy Project organized by Citizens for Dixie's Future, a Washington County nonprofit group combating several growth initiatives in the area, including the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline and the failed 2006 Washington County Growth and Conservation Act.

Lin Alder, executive director of Citizens for Dixie's Future, invoked the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. in addressing the crowd about the group's fight to stop the massive coal-fired power plant.

"Let us begin to see ourselves as individuals not addicted to coal-powered energy but to see ourselves as solar-powered," Alder said, in urging the audience to band together against the power plant. "Let us see ourselves as pioneers ushering in a new era in Washington County."

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection is holding a public hearing on the Toquop project Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Mesquite at City Hall. A second rally against the project is planned to begin at City Hall one hour prior to the public hearing.


E-mail: nperkins@desnews.com

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