Environmentalists, scientists, plant specialists, and farmers say that sulfur dioxide from a Texas coal-fired power plant is causing extensive swaths of vegetation death in the region.
Pecan growers have reported plant devastation near the Fayette Power Project, a 30-year-old facility in Ellinger, Texas. They say the power plant, which is operated by the Lower Colorado River Authority, emits sulfur dioxide that has caused thousands of trees to die and nut production to steadily plummet.
“There was an environmental catastrophe,” local horticulturalist Jim Berry told MSNBC.
“It wasn’t just the pecan groves,” he said. “It was the entire ecosystem that was under duress.”
Sulfur dioxide has been known to kill plants in other parts of the country, AP reports.
The Lower Colorado River Authority claims that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the plant is responsible for the dying trees, blaming the damage on recent droughts instead.
The Environmental Protection Agency toured some of the farms and is currently reviewing data, AP reports.