LITTLE ROCK — The best way for Entergy Arkansas to comply with a federal rule aimed at reducing visibility-impairing air pollution would be to phase out its White Bluff and Independence coal plants, the Sierra Club said Tuesday.

LITTLE ROCK — The best way for Entergy Arkansas to comply with a federal rule aimed at reducing visibility-impairing air pollution would be to phase out its White Bluff and Independence coal plants, the Sierra Club said Tuesday.


The environmental group released a proposed plan for complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Haze Rule, which seeks to improve visibility at national parks and wildlife areas by reducing power plant emissions.


Installing scrubbers, or systems for reducing emissions, at Entergy’s White Bluff plant in Redfield and Independence plant in Newark would cost about $1 billion per plant, a cost that would be borne by Arkansas ratepayers, Glen Hooks, director of the Sierra Club’s Arkansas chapter, said at a news conference Tuesday.


"We believe that spending that kind of money to prop up 35-year-old, aging and dirty coal plants makes no sense," he said.


Al Armendariz of Austin, Texas, deputy regional director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said the group is proposing that Entergy phase out the use of coal at the White Bluff plant over the next nine years and at the Independence plant over the next 11 years. The plants are the biggest coal-fired power plants in Arkansas.


If Entergy agrees to the compromise, the Sierra Club will support the continued operation of both plants, without scrubbers, until they are phased out in 2025 and 2027, Armendariz said.


The Sierra Club also is proposing to work with Entergy and state regulators to replace at least half the capacity of the plants with renewable power sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy, he said.


Sierra Club volunteer and documentary filmmaker April Lane of Little Rock said there is "a better way" than continuing to rely on expensive and dirty coal power. She said she wants her son, Lincoln, 6, to grow up in an environment with clean air.


"I want him to be able to live a healthy and thriving life, and I am questioning whether that’s possible in the direction that we’re headed currently," she said.


In August, Entergy filed with the EPA a proposed plan that calls for shutting down the White Bluff plant’s two units in 2027 and 2028. The utility’s plan does not call for closing the Independence plant.


Entergy Arkansas spokeswoman Sally Graham said Tuesday, "Last summer, Entergy Arkansas Inc. submitted a very reasonable, environmentally forward-looking, cost-effective plan to EPA."


The utility will study the Sierra Club’s proposal, Graham said.


In November, the Sierra Club won a court ruling giving the EPA until Aug. 31 of this year to approve a state plan for complying with the haze rule or promulgate a federal plan for compliance. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge unsuccessfully opposed the Sierra Club’s efforts to compel the agency to enforce the rule.