The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has approved a crucial environmental permit for a large coal plant in Matagorda County.

The plant, called White Stallion, is expected to supply enough power for 650,000 homes.

Jennifer Powis, a Sierra Club representative, said three more coal plants are on the drawing boards in Texas — the Las Brisas plant proposed in Corpus Christi, the Tenaska plant in Nolan County and the Summit Power plant near Odessa.

Environmentalists are irate, if not surprised, at the White Stallion decision, saying that administrative law judges earlier in the process had shown reservations about the plant. The plant still needs additional permits, like one for wastewater discharge, environmentalists say.

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Bill Gill, the air quality program manager at the Capital Area Council of Governments, said the federal Environmental Protection Agency plans to tighten ozone requirements, so the pollution from the White Stallion and other coal plants will be a concern as far away as Austin. "Whichever way the wind's blowing, somebody's going to get it," he said.

The White Stallion developers say on their website that they have "invested millions of dollars and has spent three years evaluating and minimizing the environmental impacts of our project."

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