Mirant blamed for deaths in Maryland, Tax problems in New York

Wash. PostMaryland's air pollution a killer, study says
About 700 deaths, 30,000 asthma attacks can be linked to coal-fired power plants, says report by Harvard researcher

By Elizabeth Williamson, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, February 16, 2006; Page B04

Mirant's Chalk Point plantPollution from Maryland's six largest coal-burning power plants contribute to 700 deaths each year, including 100 deaths in Maryland, according to a Harvard University study released yesterday.

The study was sponsored by the Maryland Nurses Association, which supports a bill in the legislature that would require such plants to sharply reduce pollution over the next decade.

Jonathan Levy of the Harvard School of Public Health, the report's author, linked several studies with a model imitating the flow of pollution to show how the power plants contribute to deaths and illnesses.

Most of the deaths occurred in Maryland and the more populous states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Maryland power plant emissions, he found, are implicated in more than 30,000 asthma attacks in this wider area each year, about 4,000 of them in Maryland. Additionally, the report says the plants contributed to 800,000 days of restricted activity, with about 100,000 of those in Maryland. The report did not place a dollar value on the losses but estimated them to be in the "hundreds of millions of dollars in Maryland, and billions of dollars" across the mid-Atlantic states.

The six plants in the study are Chalk Point and Morgantown (photo above) in Southern Maryland, and Dickerson in Montgomery County, all owned by Mirant Corp.; Brandon Shores and H.A. Wagner in Anne Arundel, and C.P. Crane in Baltimore County, all owned by Constellation Energy... Read the rest of this Washington Post story here, and comment below

TimesMirant critics fault Romney's plan
No one spoke in favor of the governor's plan

By GEORGE BRENNAN, STAFF WRITER
SANDWICH - More than 60 people, many of them wearing ''stop global warming now'' stickers, raised their hands last night to tell the governor not to ease proposed emission regulations against what one man called the ''Mirant monstrosity.''

CPN at MirantOfficials from the state Department of Environmental Protection heard testimony on proposed changes to regulations on carbon dioxide emissions. The public hearing was held in the town offices at 16 Jan Sebastian Drive and attracted a crowd dominated by Cape Clean Air and Clean Power Now (Barnstable Patriot photo on right of CPN's Matt Palmer at Mirant earlier)...

During last night's hearing, more than a dozen speakers, taking direct aim at Mirant, said the tougher sanctions against release of carbon dioxide - considered the leading cause of global warming - would be weakened by Romney's proposed policy changes.

No one spoke in favor of the governor's planAccording to the 2001 regulations, plant owners still must freeze carbon dioxide emissions through 2015, and then cut those levels 10 percent by 2021.

The governor's plan would allow companies like Mirant to buy credit for carbon dioxide improvements elsewhere in the world when local costs exceed $6.50 per ton of emissions. And if it tops $10 per ton, the owners can put money into a state greenhouse gas trust... Read the rest of the Times story here, and comment below.

Journal NewsRockland County to borrow $175 million as Mirant tax dispute drags on
First time ever county had to borrow money

By LAURA INCALCATERRA, [email protected], THE JOURNAL NEWS

The county will have to borrow $175 million to cover Mirant Corp.'s unpaid taxes because it appears unlikely the energy giant's assessment challenge will be settled before the money is due.

County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef has said the $8.5 million in interest and fees on the loan equaled an increase of about 20 percent, or $104, for all property taxpayers in the county.

The parties involved — Mirant, Stony Point, Haverstraw town and village, the North Rockland school district and West Haverstraw — went before the Rockland County Industrial Development Agency on Monday and mutually agreed to complete a settlement by May 16, said the agency's executive director, Holly Freedman.

If they could reach an agreement and reimburse the $119 million to the county, they would have to do so by March 21. Otherwise, the county must borrow the money to meet an April 1 deadline to reimburse the missed Mirant payments, including the additional $56 million. But there appear to be too many hurdles for that deadline to be met.

Vanderhoef's spokeswoman, C.J. Miller, said yesterday that the sooner the dispute was settled, the better it would be for all.

"The impact would lessen for taxpayers the quicker we can pay it back," Miller said.

Mirant disputes the assessed value of its Lovett Generating Station in Stony Point and its Bowline Point power plants in Haverstraw town.

The case has been in state Supreme Court in White Plains since Mirant filed tax challenges in July 2003. The company wants Haverstraw town and Stony Point to reduce the plants' assessments and wants refunds of more than $100 million for what it calls overpayments.

Mirant hasn't paid its taxes to Stony Point, Haverstraw town and village, North Rockland school district, West Haverstraw and the county since the 2003-04 school year. The county is required under state law to cover the tax payments and has already borrowed $119 million to do that. Now $56 million more in taxes is due, and Mirant still is not paying.

As a result, the county must move to borrow the most in its history — $175 million. That will cover the $119 million already borrowed and the new $56 million bond it will have to take on... Read the rest of this Journal News story here, and comment below.

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