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For Immediate Release, February 9, 2009

Contact: Amy Atwood, Center for Biological Diversity, (541) 914-8372  

Statement on NV Energy Inc.'s Abandonment of Plans to
Construct Coal-Fired Power Plant in Eastern Nevada  

LAS VEGAS, Nev.— The Center for Biological Diversity is celebrating NV Energy Inc.’s announcement today that it will abandon original plans to construct the Ely Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant in eastern Nevada. Citing growing environmental and economic concerns, the company stated that the project has been postponed until greenhouse gas capture and storage capture technology becomes commercially viable, which is “not likely before the end of the next decade.”

“Today’s announcement reflects the fact that power companies are starting to recognize coal’s bleak future,” said Amy Atwood, public lands energy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Obama administration should take swift action to halt regulatory approvals for other coal-fired power plants that are still proposed for the region. Not another acre of public lands should be destroyed for coal combustion in an age of global warming.”

Ely Energy Center, which would have been located about 20 miles north of Ely in White Pine County, Nevada, would have consisted of two coal-fired 750-megawatt (MW) ultra-supercritical steam turbine units, two 500-MW integrated gasification combined cycle units, and associated facilities. The Center would have had a 2,500-MW generating capacity and an estimated lifespan of 50 years.

Ely Energy Center would consume approximately 8,000 acre-feet of water per year during the first phase alone, compromising the viability of local threatened and endangered species while contributing an estimated 10.6 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year. Additional greenhouse gas emissions would have resulted from the mining and transportation of coal between eastern Nevada and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

The Center will continue to monitor developments to see that regulatory permitting processes for the Ely Energy Center are halted or withdrawn.

The Center for Biological Diversity is dedicated to ensuring that atmospheric CO2 pollutant levels are reduced to below 350 ppm, which leading climate scientists warn is necessary to prevent devastating climate change. Further development of greenhouse gas-intensive energy sources, including oil shale, tar sands, and coal-fired power plants, is fundamentally incompatible with achieving this goal. If greenhouse gas emissions are not immediately reduced, the current atmospheric CO2 level of 385 ppm will rise to approximately 500 ppm by mid-century, triggering mass wildlife extinctions, catastrophic global weather and ecosystem changes, and tragic human suffering.

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