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Sierra Club, GASP ‘threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama’s own businesses’

During these times of unrest and uncertainty, Alabamians understand the importance of protecting jobs firsthand and maintaining the resources that fuel our economy.

It is disheartening to see activist groups take advantage of a global pandemic to promote their shortsighted political agenda through threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama’s own businesses.

Recently, we witnessed lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club and the Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP) against the state over air and water permits for Plant Barry, an electric generating plant north of Mobile. Plant Barry is one of the state’s largest power plants and a significant source of electricity for families and businesses across the area. The plant provides power to major industrial operations in south Alabama, as well as to national defense contractors such as Austal.

Today, Plant Barry is complying with all air and water rules set forth by state regulators. Despite this, the Sierra Club and GASP are still fighting to see that south Alabama lose its largest source of electricity and the more than the 300 jobs provided by Plant Barry.

According to Alabama Power’s spokesperson Michael Sznajderman, “Plant Barry is an important part of Alabama Power’s generating fleet, providing the state with safe, reliable and affordable energy, with capacity to serve as many as 590,000 homes. Plant Barry also supplies energy to key industries that are vital to Alabama’s workforce and economy, and it does so in compliance with all applicable environmental rules and regulations.”

The Sierra Club, which is based out of San Francisco, California, does not represent Alabama thinking or values. It is troubling to see out-of-state activists groups working to influence our state’s power supply and its workers.

The Sierra Club has advocated for years to shut down coal-fired power completely, and it has become apparent that GASP agrees. Further, the groups have rebuked the burning of natural gas as well, arguing earlier this year to the Alabama Public Service Commission that Alabama Power should not be allowed to expand its power portfolio to meet customer demand in the winter.

This is a time to work together to address issues and solve problems, not to promote extreme political issues.

John H. Merrill is currently serving as Alabama’s 53rd secretary of state

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