Groups Rally in Austin Against Proposed Coal Plants

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AUSTIN (AP) - About a thousand people rallied at the State Capitol on Sunday to call on lawmakers to slow down a plan to build up to 18 new coal-fired power plants.

Environmentalists fear the new plants will pump millions of tons of pollutants into the air every year. Eleven of the plants are proposed by energy giant TXU.

The rally was organized by about 40 environmental and health advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club and the American Lung

Protesters called on lawmakers to support a time out on permits for the new plants.

The TXU coal proposal is on the fast track under an order Governor Rick Perry issued in 2005 to expand the production of electricity and lower its cost.

TXU says the plants will meet the state's growing demand for power, give an economic boost to small towns and reduce toxic emissions by replacing older, less efficient plants.

Critics contend the coal plan is driven by profits and accuse TXU of rushing to beat more stringent federal restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.