What does language mean?

The final Environmental Impact Statement is out on the coal plant. Despite comments I have read elsewhere, the .pdf file posted at the Tribune's website is the executive summary, not the complete document. Given, though, that the executive summary weighs in at over 1,000 pages, that's what I have worked from.

My interest in this plant have not been from the environmental perspective. It is not something I know much about and, frankly, unless and until I can figure out what is going on legally and financially, I just can't see putting in the time to research this 'other' side of it.

One thing did catch my eye, though, Tribune's piece covering the release of the EIS: "The study says the plant's operations would produce minor to moderate degradation of local air quality in the long term." I was born and raised here, and I have always treasured Great Falls' sunny skies and clean air. "Minor to moderate degradation?" What does that mean?

If you open up the executive summary of the EIS to p. 4-6, 304 in Adobe Acrobat, it enumerates the three levels of impact: minor, moderate and major. We're facing to minor to moderate.

At p. ES-9, Adobe p. 11, the executive summary states: "Overall air quality impacts from the Proposed Action would be adverse and most likely nonsignificant. Heavy equipment tailpipe emissions and fugitive dust would probably entail short-term, minor to moderate degradation of local air quality during construction of the HGS and wind turbines. HGS operations would result in long-term minor to moderate degradation of local air quality. There would be long-term minor impacts on sensitive species from criteria pollutant emissions and/or trace element deposition." [Emphasis mine]

In other words, the Highwood Generating Station will degrade our local air quality, and could do so in a manner that is long-term and significant. That fact doesn't seem very well publicized, does it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nope, the FEIS is simply a whitewash of documents submitted by SME to the DEQ and RUS. Neither the DEQ or RUS questions what is submitted by SME. They may make make minor attempts to answer the public comments by consulting with SME, but generally they just print up, bind up and send out a nice looking, very heavy document that most folks could never understand if they reflected on it for the next millenium....