Martin Lake Steam Station

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Martin Lake Steam Station is an operating power station of at least 2380-megawatts (MW) in Tatum, Rusk, Texas, United States.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Martin Lake Steam Station Tatum, Rusk, Texas, United States 32.2598, -94.5705 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1: 32.2597583, -94.5705139
  • Unit 2: 32.2597583, -94.5705139
  • Unit 3: 32.2597583, -94.5705139

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 operating coal - lignite 793 MW supercritical - -
Unit 2 operating coal - lignite 793 MW supercritical - -
Unit 3 operating coal - lignite 793 MW supercritical - -

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner Parent
Unit 1 Luminant Generation Co LLC Vistra Corp
Unit 2 Luminant Generation Co LLC Vistra Corp
Unit 3 Luminant Generation Co LLC Vistra Corp

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 21,301,393 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 77,419 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 15,608 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 1,705 lb.

Legal challenge over pollution control at 8 Texas coal plants

In October 2022, the Environment Integrity Project and the Sierra Club filed legal action against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the effective exemption of 8 coal plants from fine particle pollution control standards.[1] According to the lawsuit, the EPA failed to approve an amendment to Texas' State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. By neither approving nor rejecting the new SIP by the statutory deadline, the coal power stations were free to continue emitting dangerous levels of pollution for “for hundreds and in some cases thousands of hours each year.”[2]

The legal action was targeted at 8 coal plants: Pirkey Power Plant, Fayette Power Project, Martin Lake Steam Station, Limestone Generating Station, San Miguel Electric Cooperative, Harrington Station, Gibbons Creek Steam Station, and Oklaunion Power Station.[3]

Unlined coal ash dam

In January 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the refusal of applications from six coal-fired power stations to dispose of coal ash in unlined dams. The EPA stated that the utilities operating the power stations failed to demonstrate how they would meet groundwater protection regulations. The impacted power stations were Belle River Power Plant, Coal Creek Station, Conemaugh Generating Station, Coronado Generating Station, Martin Lake Steam Station and Monroe Power Plant.[4]

Citizen action

Lawsuits over Air Pollution at Martin Lake Plant

In July, 2007, the Sierra Club put EFH and its subsidiary, Luminant, on notice that the group intended to sue the company for Clean Air Act violations at its Martin Lake plant. The plant was rated as the first in the nation for power plant mercury emissions in 2005, emitting a total of 1,705 pounds of mercury that year. The Sierra Club claimed that both the U.S. EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality ignored soot pollution and other violations at the facility. They also claimed that Martin Lake was one of the dirtiest plants in the entire country in regard to particle pollution, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide. These toxins, the Sierra Club noted, are producing a great health risk to communities nearby. The facility currently uses scrubber technology.[5]

In September 2010, EFH and its Luminant Generation unit were sued by the Sierra Club over pollution emitted by the Martin Lake plant. The plant near Longview is among the dirtiest in the U.S., the environmental group said in its complaint filed in federal court in Texarkana, Texas: “It is the worst power plant for mercury pollution among all U.S. coal plants, emitting 1,764 pounds in 2008,” the Sierra Club said in a statement. The San Francisco-based group asked a judge to find the plant’s operators in violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act..[6]

In February 2023, the Sierra Club sued the US Environmental Protection Agency over failure to eliminate harmful sulphur dioxide pollution at Martin Lake Steam Station.[7]

Sierra Club calls for closure of three coal plants in Texas

On March 18, 2011 the Sierra Club released a report stating that three of Luminant's coal plants in East Texas should be shut down because the facilities do not meet Clean Air Act standards and need $3.6 billion in upgrades in order to comply with federal regulations.

The three plants targeted were Big Brown, Monticello Steam Station and the Martin Lake Steam Station plant. The Sierra Club expressed concern about "the major threats to air and water pollution that citizens in the Barnett Shale [in North Texas] are dealing with firsthand."[8][9]

The study recommended:

"[R]eplacement of three coal fired power plants built in the 1970’s (Big Brown, Monticello and Martin Lake) is a financial and environmental necessity. The plants, currently owned by Energy Future Holding/Luminant and serving North Texas are financially mismanaged, cannot compete profitably in the current market, require pollution control upgrades that are unaffordable and have suffered deep losses in market value. The financial outlook for the company and the plants going forward show very little upside. A broad look at the national and Texas energy market suggest planning tools and resources exist to ensure a smooth transition to a more financially stable and reliable supply of electricity."

Martin Lake Plant is Nation's Worst for Mercury Emissions

Most Power Plants Still Spewing Toxic Mercury

In March 2010 the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) released a report using available EPA data that indicated half of the country's 50 largest mercury-emitting power plants have increased their emissions in recent years. The report also noted that half of the coal plants in the United States do not have the most up to date emission controls in place, and five of the plants with the highest amount of mercury emitted are located in Texas.

Coal-fired power plants generate more than 40 percent of U.S. emissions. Mercury released into the air settles in rivers and lakes, where it moves through the food chain to the fish that people eat. The report states that Luminant's Martin Lake Steam Station in Texas is the nation's worst mercury polluter. The plant reported a 4.56 percent increase from 2007 to 2008.[10]

The 2011 Environmental Defense Fund report, "Mercury Alert: Cleaning up Coal Plants for Healthier Lives" found that 25 plants alone are responsible for nearly a third of all mercury emissions in the power sector, while providing only eight percent of U.S. electricity. The findings are based on 2009 U.S. Department of Energy data. The plant with the highest mercury emissions was Martin Lake Steam Station, releasing 1,566 lbs in 2009.[11]

Martin Lake ranked 5th in largest carbon dioxide emissions

Martin Lake ranked 5th in terms of largest carbon dioxide emissions according to a 2009 report by Environment America, "America's Biggest Polluters," the Martin Lake station is the fifth dirtiest plant in the nation, releasing 21.8 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2007. Ranking is based upon Environmental Protection Agency data.[12]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Martin Lake Steam Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[13] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[14]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Martin Lake Steam Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 42 $310,000,000
Heart attacks 63 $6,800,000
Asthma attacks 720 $38,000
Hospital admissions 31 $710,000
Chronic bronchitis 26 $11,000,000
Asthma ER visits 45 $17,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Articles and Resources


  1. "Coal-fired plants in Texas bypassing pollution controls, lawsuit says", Reuters, October 11, 2022
  2. "Environmental Integrity Project v. Michael Regan: Civil Action No. 1:22-cv-3063", United States District Court for the District of Columbia, filed October 10, 2022
  3. "Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Pollution From Eight Texas Coal Plants", Environmental Integrity Project, October 10, 2022
  4. "EPA Announces Latest Actions to Protect Groundwater and Communities from Coal Ash Contamination," United States Environmental Protection Agency, January 25, 2023
  5. "Sierra Club Files Notice of Intent to Sue Luminant (TXU)" Sierra Club's State Capitol Report, August 7, 2008
  6. Andrew Harris, "Luminant Sued by Sierra Club Over Coal-Fired Texas Power Plant's Pollution" Bloomberg, September 2, 2010.
  7. "Sierra Club Sues EPA to Enforce Clean-Up Plan For Martin Lake Coal Plant," Sierra Club, February 23, 2023
  8. "Sierra Club calls for closure of three Luminant coal plants in Texas" Jack Z. Smith, Star-Telegram, March 17, 2011.
  9. "The Case to Retire Big Brown, Monticello and Martin Lake Coal Plants," prepared for Sierra Club by Tom Sanzillo, TR Rose Associates, March 17, 2011
  10. "EIP Report: Electric Power Industry "Not Making A Dent" in Dangerous Mercury Pollution, Which Rose at Over Half of the Nation's 50 Dirtiest Power Plants" Environmental Integrity Project, March 17, 2010.
  11. "Mercury Alert: Cleaning up Coal Plants for Healthier Lives" Environmental Defense Fund report, March 2011.
  12. "America's Biggest Polluters: Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants in 2007" Environment America, November 24, 2009
  13. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  14. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.