COLUMBIA - About 30 protesters gathered at South Carolina's environmental agency to protest a proposed coal-fired plant to be built in Florence County.

The protesters carried signs that read "Coal Kills" and "SC says No to Coal" on Thursday before the agency reconsiders the air quality permit for the project.

State-owned utility Santee Cooper won initial approval from the staff of the Department of Health and Environmental Control to build the plant it says it needs to meet growing electricity demand.

Several environmental groups, the state Natural Resources Department and Gov. Mark Sanford have spoken against the plant. They say it is too costly and will pump pollutants into the air, including mercury and sulfur dioxide.

The permits give Santee Cooper permission to build two 600-megawatt boilers.