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Every year 24,000 people die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Every year 38,000 heart attacks occur because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Every year 12,000 hospital admissions and 550,000 people suffering asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.

Every year, coal-fired power plants release 48 tons of mercury nationwide.

Power plants release over 40% of total U.S. C02 emissions, a primary contributor to global warming...

...and yet the coal industry wants you to believe that building more coal fired power plants in Michigan is a good idea!

...and now utilities want to burn (as biomass) our trees that capture and store harmful carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we need to live

 

Wolverine Energy saw a remarkable 14.6 percent drop in peak energy demand through conservation.

“Coal is my Worst Nightmare!” | WATCH VIDEOS | HEALTH & EMISSIONS | MAJOR U.S. COAL PRODUCERS
President Obama’s Secretary of the Department of Energy has not been shy about the fact that the United States has to transition away from coal to survive.

If even a few coal-fired power plants are constructed the global warming pollution pumped into our air will make all our other efforts to reverse climate change irrelevant. Coal plants are the dirtiest, most regressive source of energy possible—poisoning our communities, our bodies, and our environment. Coal is biomass that has been buried under pressure for a very long time. Though the company and its partners promote the plant as a national model for environmentally friendly "clean coal" technology, Prairie State will be the largest source of carbon dioxide built in the United States in a quarter-century. Each year, it will churn more than 13 million tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, an amount equivalent to adding 2 million cars to the nation's highways.

Groups Join DOJ to Halt Serious Air Pollution from DTE Coal-burning Power Plants
DETROIT, MI — Conservation groups took legal action late last week to support the Department of Justice (DOJ) efforts to clean up several of Detroit Edison’s coal-burning power plants in Southern Michigan by requiring them to comply with the Clean Air Act. Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, amended its complaint in the case of U.S. v. DTE Energy Company, to clean up Detroit Edison’s River Rouge, Trenton Channel, and Belle River coal-fired power plants. Earlier last week, DOJ amended its complaint to add the same claims on Trenton Channel, River Rouge and Belle River, and additional claims against the Monroe coal plant. According to the Clean Air Task Force, these additional three coal-burning plants collectively contribute to 157 deaths, 254 heart attacks, and 2,480 asthma attacks each year.

State data shows Michigan renewable energy beats coal on cost alone
Renewable energy in Michigan is significantly less expensive than new coal-fired power and will cost ratepayers far less than originally projected, according to a new report from the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) and a revised renewable energy plan filed in February by Consumers Energy. In a separate rate filing in late February, Consumers Energy reported that meeting the renewable energy law’s requirements will cost only one-third of its original projections. As a result, the utility plans to reduce the program’s annual cost to ratepayers from $78 million annually to $23 million, almost certainly meaning a reduction of the renewable energy surcharge on ratepayers’ bills. The cost of energy optimization (energy efficiency measures) was $13.25/MWh, making new coal power literally 10 times more expensive than meeting the same goals through efficiency savings.

American Lung Association Report Highlights Toxic Health Threat of Coal-fired Power Plants
Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2011)— The American Lung Association today released Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants, a new report that documents the range of hazardous air pollutants emitted from power plants and the urgent need to clean them up to protect public health. The report highlights the wide range of uncontrolled pollutants from these plants. “It’s time that we end the ‘toxic loophole’ that has allowed coal-burning power plants to operate without any federal limits on emissions of mercury, arsenic, dioxin, acid gases such as hydrogen chloride and other dangerous pollutants,” said Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Power plant pollution kills people,” said Connor. “It threatens the brains and nervous system of children. It can cause cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution | cause burning fossil fuels and biomass
Union of Concerned Scientists Report demonstrates how climate change could increase "bad" ozone, threatening health and economy. Millions of Americans suffer from the harmful effects of ground-level ozone pollution—be they children too sick to go to school, high school football players not allowed to practice outdoors in the summer, 65-year-olds with lung disease unable to take a walk in the park, or farmers at risk when they harvest their fields. Not only does ozone pollution cause a number of serious breathing problems, and therefore a great deal of suffering, it also is damaging in monetary terms. Whether tallying up the dollars lost to sick days or the high costs of emergency-room visits, ozone pollution is expensive. The choices we make today about the way we live, the energy we use, and the pollution we release will make a difference for the health and well-being of ourselves, our children, and our descendants long into the future.

Industry Already Protesting EPA's First-Ever Limits on Mercury Pollution
After more than 20 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally set federal limits on how much mercury pollution power plants can release into the atmosphere. The fact that the power industry has been able to dump unlimited amounts of mercury and other toxics into the skies (and eventually into the ocean and tuna) without penalty for so long is mind-boggling. Unless, that is, you ask industry groups and their friends in Congress, who are already parroting the same talking points they bring out every time a new pollution control appears -- despite the fact that the Clean Air Act turns out to be a bargain for America over and over again. These new Clean Air Act rules would set a national standard for the emissions of hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, and certain others. They would cut emissions by 91 percent and save 17,000 people from premature death each year, according to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

'The Last Mountain': The Fight Against Coal | film
Right now in Tennessee, there are four active mountaintop removal mining operations and 13 such permits pending. Each of them is in East Tennessee, clustered along the Appalachian side of the Cumberland Plateau, which is home to one of the largest and most biodiverse forest systems in the world. It's not the kind of place you'd expect to find coal companies dynamiting the tops off the mountains. I debated Don Blankenship, of Massey Coal, a year ago. During that debate I asked him, "Is it possible for your company to make a profit without breaking the law?" He said no, it's not. During the previous five years, Massey has violated the Clean Water Act more than 67,000 times, and has accumulated tens of thousands of violations of mining laws and safety laws—this is a criminal enterprise.

Phasing Out Federal Subsidies for Coal
The purpose of this report is to urge consistency in the development and implementation of federal administrative policies. Even as President Obama has pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, the Federal Government prepares to establish limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and the Administration fosters a transition to a low carbon economy, some Federal agencies continue to have policies and programs that provide substantial subsidies for the construction, expansion, and life extension of one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. - coal-fired power plants

Finally, Washington Frowns on Mountaintop Removal Mining
When the EPA revoked a permit for decapitating West Virginia's mountains, some politicians decided the sky was falling. At last, a small spark of sanity from Washington. After making a full scientific assessment of environmental impacts, the EPA has revoked the permit for the largest mountaintop removal project ever to assault the natural resources and the people of Appalachia.

Kentucky cancels coal plant
The new agreement marks a significant turning point for Kentucky.Thanks to a powerful and growing New Power grassroots movement, a transition to a clean energy future is possible, even in the heartland of coal country. Recognizing the spiraling costs of coal-fired plant construction and more practical energy efficiency and renewable energy options, the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) has agreed to halt its once fervent plans to construct two coal-burning power plants in Clark County.

Toxins detected in soil outside Lansing coal ash storage site
11/18/10—An investigation by City Pulse has found elevated levels of arsenic in run-off from a site where the Lansing Board of Water & Light is storing coal ash near Grand River. A sample taken from soil that had breached a broken silt fence at the facility after a heavy rain in Sept. showed arsenic at more than twice the maximum normal level.

Coal: How Our Addiction to an 18th-Century Energy Source Is Killing Us
Coal has produced power in our country for over 100 years. It pulled us through the Industrial Revolution and has pumped electricity into the hearts of our cities. It's also caused insurmountable death and destruction along the way, contributing more than its fair share to climate change, water pollution and worker fatalities. So how do we challenge such an entrenched part of our culture and start the process of reversing these trends?

Study Says Coal Plants Cost Chicagoans Millions In Health Damages
According to the study the plants cause more than $127 million in health damages yearly. Particulate matter released into the air causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, heart attacks, premature death and more.

Students protest coal plant at Michigan State University
10/15/10—About 30 students gathered at the famous rock near Michigan State University’s auditorium Thursday morning. They were there to protest MSU’s TB Simon coal-generated power plant, the largest coal plant on any U.S. campus in the United States.

Banks Turning Away from Mountaintop Removal
After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines. In the most recent example, the banking giant Wells Fargo noted last month what it called “considerable attention and controversy” surrounding mountaintop removal mining, and said that its involvement with companies engaged in it was “limited and declining.”

Mountaintop Removal Has Filled 700 Miles of US Streams with Debris
700 miles. That's a long ways--nearly a quarter of the entire length of the United States. And that's the length of the nation's streams that have been filled in with debris--utterly ruined by the devastating practice known as mountaintop removal mining. A new scientific study has revealed exactly what happens next: trees are obliterated, bodies of water contaminated, wildlife scattered, nearby residents become more likely to get cancer, and, yes, streams are completely filled in with debris and choked off. In short, it's an atrocious practice with a massively negative impact on the wilderness.

Mountaintop Mining Consequences | $
There has been a global, 30-year increase in surface mining (1), which is now the dominant driver of land-use change in the central Appalachian ecoregion of the United States (2). One major form of such mining, mountaintop mining with valley fills (MTM/VF) (3), is widespread throughout eastern Kentucky, West Virginia (WV), and southwestern Virginia. Upper elevation forests are cleared and stripped of topsoil, and explosives are used to break up rocks to access buried coal (fig. S1). Excess rock (mine "spoil") is pushed into adjacent valleys, where it buries existing streams.

New Coal Power: Emissions Equivalent To Putting 22 Million Cars On The Road
Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.The industry acknowledges that highly touted "clean coal" technology is still a long ways from becoming a reality, if ever (Experimental trials have been stymied by high costs and the difficulty of isolating carbon dioxide from other gases), and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail. Utilities say they are clinging to coal because its abundance makes it cheaper than natural gas or nuclear power and more reliable than intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. Still, the price of coal plants is rising and consumers in some areas served by the new facilities will see their electricity bill rise by up to 30 percent or more. These plants will generate about 125 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.

Burning Coal + Hot Days = Unhealthy Air Warnings
10-Aug-2010—These aren’t the first days this summer where we’ve had these warnings. Temperatures are soaring across the U.S. – and while one major source of air pollution is vehicles, the other major cause is burning coal for energy. And with this comes new research that poor air quality days aren’t just a struggle for your lungs, they’re just as tough on your heart.

Clean coal dream a costly nightmare
Sold on a promise of cheap, clean electricity, dozens of communities in Illinois and eight other Midwest states instead are facing more expensive utility bills after bankrolling a new coal-fired power plant that will be one of the nation's largest sources of climate-change pollution. The communities are locked into 28-year contracts that will require higher electricity rates to cover the construction overruns, documents and interviews show. Municipal officials told the Tribune they expect costs to soar even higher before the plant begins operating next year.

E.P.A. Tightens Its Sulfur-Dioxide Limits
June 3, 2010—The Environmental Protection Agency issued a new health standard on Thursday for sulfur dioxide emissions, the first such revision in nearly 40 years. Green A blog about energy and the environment. Go to Blog The agency said that the new standard, adopted under the Clean Air Act, would prevent 2,300 to 5,900 premature deaths and 54,000 asthma attacks a year. The agency estimates the cost to industry of adopting the new rule at $1.5 billion over the next 10 years, and the value of the health benefits at $13 billion to $33 billion a year.

Consumers Energy suspends plans to build $2 billion coal plant
Consumers Energy has suspended its plans to build its first coal plant in 30 years. The Jackson-based utility announced in September 2007 it wanted to build the $2 billion, 830-megawatt coal plant near Bay City, saying the state needed the power and jobs the facility would generate. But Mengebier, citing a reduced demand for electricity, cheap natural gas and excess electric capacity in the Midwest market, said company leaders could not make the economic case for it as they prepared to file a Certificate of Necessity later this summer with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Michigan Denies Permit to Build Coal Fueled Power Plant in Rogers City
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) today denied Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative’s air quality Permit to Install application for a new 600 megawatt power plant, fueled primarily by petroleum coke and coal, in Rogers City. The decision follows a thorough review of the permit application under state and federal law. The state’s decision is based on findings of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), which said the company failed to demonstrate the plant was needed to meet future supply needs. The MPSC staff also determined that building the proposed plant would increase electricity rates paid by average residential customers by 59.2 percent, costing the average residential customer $76.95 more each month. Only Hawaii has a higher average kilowatt-hour rate. “We are protecting hundreds of thousands of Michigan homeowners, businesses, and farmers from paying a whopping increase in their electric bills, which would have been among the highest in the nation,” Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. “The cost of doing business in Michigan would have skyrocketed, and despite the short-term gain from its construction, this project would have been a job-killer and a roadblock in our efforts to bring new economic development investments to Michigan.”

Mercury Emissions from Michigan Coal Fueled Power Plants
Mercury is a persistent, bioaccumulative neurotoxin. Studies indicate an increased risk to a developing fetus upon exposure to methylmercury via maternal fish consumption. Mercury released from anthropogenic (man-made) and natural sources can be deposited in the environment, a portion of which is converted to methylmercury in aquatic systems before finding its way into fish. Coal-fired EGUs are currently the largest single source of anthropogenic mercury emissions in Michigan and the United States,

Near-Term Phaseout of CO2 Emissions from Coal Use in the United States
The current U.S. electric grid incorporates little renewable power, most of which is not base load power. However, this can readily be changed within the next 2-3 decades. Eliminating coal emissions also requires improved efficiency, a “smart grid”, additional energy storage, and advanced nuclear power. Any further coal usage must be accompanied by carbon capture and storage (CCS). We suggest that near-term emphasis should be on efficiency measures and substitution of coal-fired power by renewables and third-generation nuclear plants, since these technologies have been successfully demonstrated at the relevant (commercial) scale. Beyond 2030, these measures can be supplemented by CCS at power plants and, as needed, successfully demonstrated breeder reactors. We conclude that U.S. coal emissions could be phased out by 2030 using existing technologies or ones that could be commercially competitive with coal within about a decade. Elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and a substantial rising price on carbon emissions are the root requirements for a clean, emissions-free future.

Mining Association condemns passing of “Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act”
The Colorado Mining Association (CMA) today condemned the passage of legislation to retire existing coal fired power plants along the Front Range and replace them with higher cost natural gas. The bill, Colorado House Bill 10-1365, also known as the “Clean Air - Clean Jobs Act," passed after extensive floor debate.

Consumers Energy will force ratepayers to pay an unreasonable price for an unnecessary coal plant
April 14, 2010—According to the report, Consumers' proposed coal plant near Bay City could add up to $33 per year to a ratepayer's energy bill. Already, Consumers is increasing rates by four to five percent every year, adding around $30 to energy bills. Therefore, each year, ratepayers could see an additional $70 plus on their electric bills. If the proposed plant is built near Bay City, the cost of electricity at the plant will be about 45% higher than costs from Consumers' existing operations.

NRDC, Sierra Club sue Michigan over permit for new coal plant
Opponents of new coal plant development are fighting back in court. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club filed suit against the state of Michigan in Ingham County Circuit court this week, arguing that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment failed to do its duty when it issued an air permit for a new 830 megawatt coal-fired power plant proposed by Consumers Energy at its Karn/Weadock complex near Bay City. The air permit, granted by the state Dec. 29, 2009, allows the company to emit 4,480 tons of carbon monoxide, 2,150 tons of sulfur dioxide, 1,790 tons of nitrogen oxides, 860 tons of particulate matter, 572 pounds of lead and 64 pounds of mercury each year as well as other pollutants. Consumers Energy's Karn-Weadock complex, photo courtesy Hampton Township The environmental groups say that this permit is unlawful because state regulators did not require the power company to use the best available pollution control technology. “We believe the Clean Air Act today requires regulation of CO2 from a major source such as a coal power plant,” said NRDC attorney Shannon Fisk. “There are no controls on carbon at this facility at all. They also failed to require stringent control for sulfur dioxide and mercury. There are controls available for these pollutants.”

Recession Chills Zeal for Highly Touted Co2-Capture and Gasificcation Technology
Coal-dependent utilities knew they would have to capture their carbon dioxide emissions to survive. And their only technical fix involved a chemical system called gasification that would turn coal into easily separable gases. Utilities saw a savior, chemical engineers a customer. Gasification fever was on. Then the economy crashed. The recession deflated oil and carbon prices, just as engineers began discovering that the always-on demands of the electricity business would cause exorbitant plant costs. The courtship cooled. Gasification plants -- also known as integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants -- put finely pulverized coal under high pressure in gas chambers. Reactors then press and cook the coal at high temperatures to create a hydrogen-rich synthetic gas and, eventually, CO2. Thanks to the system's high pressure, the CO2 can easily be captured. The synthetic gas then fuels turbines similar to those used in natural gas plants. It seems simple in theory, but it gets complicated quickly.

An Author's Incredible Environmental Journey After a Coal Company Destroyed His Family's Ancestral Home and Land
Mining companies have been destroying not just homes, forests and streams, but actual communities with stories, songs, heroes and legacies. Unfortunately, our love affair with coal continues, despite dire warnings from top scientists regarding global warming, the impact on human health from burning coal and desperate pleas from the people who live in areas of coal extraction.

West Virginia Coal Town's Fight for a Clean Energy Future
Coal River Mountain stands stubborn and vulnerable today amidst this blight, a battleground between the dirty energy of the past and clean energy of the future. Between exploitation and opportunity—opportunity that is too often overlooked So they've got a plan for Coal River Mountain's future that would do more for the local community and the county's coffers than strip mining ever could. Set aside for a moment the many health and social ills of MTR—the toxic drainages, the dusty air, the undrinkable tap water—and still the economic argument alone for Coal River Wind is compelling. A 2007 wind potential study found capacity for 328 megawatts of clean energy on Coal River Mountain, enough to power 70,000 West Virginian homes. The revenue would produce $1.7 million in property taxes that would benefit the local communities. That's over 50 times the $36,000-per-year that coal mining would generate in severance taxes, and the wind money wouldn't dry up when the coal runs out in an estimated 14 years. (The coal revenue itself flows immediately out of state.) A wind farm would also create at least 50 permanent jobs that also last long after the coal would disappear.

Water Violations from Coal Fueled Power Plants

Coal-Fired Power Plants Drink 1.5 Trillion Gallons, We Drink Their Backwash
Some folks might use more water flicking on their lights, than chugging back a glass of that wondrous stuff. Makes you wonder: Has the EPA ever tabulated the external costs of coal on our water resources? And then, after that refreshing drink of desperately needed water, the 600-odd coal-fired plants (the EIA actually reports 1,445 coal-fired generators) typically throw up their chemically enhanced processed wastewater into our rivers and waterways, poisoning our own drinking water. According to a recent analysis of EPA data, the NY Times concluded: “Power plants are the nation’s biggest producer of toxic waste.” It’s like they decided to spare us having to breathe in these poisons, but now we have to drink them instead.

Clean Energy Promises More Jobs Than Coal
In Jan. 8 editorial, The Detroit News argues that outdated, 1950s-style coal-burning plants should be included. This assertion is not only recklessly irresponsible, but it's also misleading. Jobs are a concern for everyone, but coal isn't going to get us there. A study by the Political Economy Research Institute found that Michigan could stand to gain 60,000 new jobs if the state made a commitment to investing in clean energy technology -- that's far more jobs than would ever be created by building more dirty coal plants. Coal costs, too, have been skyrocketing during the past few years, and major banks like Chase, Citigroup and JP Morgan have publicly expressed their concerns and doubts over coal's future. Most recently, power giant Dynegy pulled out of a contract with LS Power to build a coal-fired plant in Midland, citing the many inherent risks of continuing to invest in coal. All this goes without mentioning the drastic toll coal would take on public health and our environment. Pollutants emitted by coal plants account for an estimated 24,000 premature deaths, 38,000 nonfatal heart attacks and 603,000 asthma attacks per year.

Chicago Clean Power Ordinance
Protecting public health and welfare is a fundamental responsibility of government. Yet each year, two coal-fired power plants within the city limits of Chicago emit thousands of tons of harmful air pollutants, including mercury, nitrogen oxides, greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide and particulates. Many of these pollutants directly affect the health of city residents; according to one study by a Harvard University researcher they are responsible for 41 additional deaths, 500 emergency room visits and 2800 asthma attacks each year.

Clean Energy Coalition Lights the Way
Each day the Windy City spreads a layer of mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur and carbon dioxides, soot and particular matter across the daily lives of its residents. Consider this: The Fisk Generation Station in Pilsen, which has spewed nearly 50,000 tons of toxic pollution (along with the Crawford Power Plant in Little Village) over the past three years, was built before the invention of the Model T. These two plants alone plague thousands of Chicagoans with lung cancer, heart attacks, premature deaths, acute and chronic bronchitis, and asthma and other respiratory illnesses. An estimated 318,000 adults and 122,000 children in Cook County have been diagnosed with asthma. The Physicians for Social Responsibility recently found that coal “contributes to four of the top five causes of mortality in the U.S. and is responsible for increasing the incidence of major diseases.” The National Academy of Scientists totaled national costs of coal at more than $62 billion in “external damages” to our health and lives

The Women I Love (on International Women’s Day): Agitators Who Stand Up to Big Coal
On International Women’s Day, let us now praise the muckrakers, the agitators, the coal mining women, the organizers, the fearless ones willing to stand up to Big Coal. I love two women agitators, in particular: Mary “Mother” Jones. Mother Jones was a diminutive frosty-haired old woman with a flat cap, round glasses, a long black dress that forever dragged in the dust of marches, and a broken Irish grin that placed her resiliency over ruthlessness. Her motto was simple: Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.

EPA Drastically Underestimates Coal Waste Pollution
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has severely underreported the severity of coal ash waste pollution and its threat to human and environmental health throughout the United States, a new independent study released February 24 by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice says. The EPA's tally of coal ash contamination locations last year did not include an additional 31 sites that should have been included in the totals, stated the study, entitled "Out of Control: Mounting Damages From Coast Ash Waste Sites."

Coal won't help Michigan move forward
Michigan has a rare opportunity to become a clean energy leader and invest in renewable energy projects that will create jobs and move our economy forward. Just about every major recent study shows that wind, solar and biomass energy projects are creating jobs at a time when other industries are struggling to stay afloat. WEB-Tiffany Hartung.jpgTiffany HartungWe have a skilled work force and the resources to take advantage of this growth and put Michigan residents back to work. Unfortunately, CMS Energy's continued pursuit of a new coal plant in Bay City sends the wrong message to businesses, to investors and to Michigan working families. Coal is a bad investment for Michigan and for CMS Energy. It threatens to chase out jobs in clean energy and is a risky investment for ratepayers and stockholders. Since 2001, plans to build more than 100 coal plants proposed across the country have been discarded. When utilities across the nation are moving away from investing in building new coal plants, why is Michigan one of the few moving backward?

Coal Ash Industry Manipulated EPA Data
The coal ash industry manipulated reports and publications about the dangers of coal combustion waste, reports Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The group stated that the Environmental Protection Agency allowed the multibillon-dollar coal ash industry to have virtually unfettered access to the EPA during the Bush administration and now under President Obama. As a result of the industry's formal relationship with the EPA, insiders were allowed to edit and ghostwrite publications and official reports on the effects of coal waste. The documents obtained by PEER indicate that the coal ash industry "watered down official reports, brochures and fact-sheets to remove references to potential dangers" of coal ash waste.

State Readies Rogers City Coal Ash Hearing | CLICK HERE TO READ THE REPORTS
Rogers City resident Joseph Veselenak likes to tell how, decades ago, the school’s football team showed up for practice one day and encountered a bizarre sight. A goal post was tilting crazily: One end of it was literally sinking into the ground. Mr. Veselenak, who coached Rogers City football in the late 1960s and through the ‘70s, immediately knew what the problem was. The goal post was slowly being swallowed by a rare form of geology that is actually quite common in Presque Isle County, where Rogers City is located: a blend of highly porous limestone, sinkholes, and underground caves, streams, and aquifers known collectively as “karst geology.”

    Related Article: A state official cautioned area residents about placing a landfill in the huge limestone quarry
    Related Article: Huron Ridge Sinkholes - The Rogers City Ash proposal appears to be a deeply dangerous idea

New Questions as State Mulls Wolverine Coal Permit
In recent years coal prices and financing costs have soared while natural gas prices have fallen, making new coal plants a bad financial bet. “Wolverine’s plans have apparently remained unchanged while the world changed around them,” he observed. “For a very small extra cost, perhaps half a cent to a penny per kilowatt-hour,” Mr. Romm said, comparing the price of gas power to existing coal power, “you could dramatically reduce U.S greenhouse gas emissions. That is one key role for natural gas in the next 10 to 15 years in replacing coal.” Mr. Romm sees natural gas as a very important “bridge fuel” to get off coal. Increasingly, other utility executives are agreeing with that assessment.

Testimony of Lisa Evans, before the subcommittee on energy and mineral resources, committee on natural resources pdf
I am Lisa Evans, an attorney for Earthjustice, a national non-profit, public interest law firm founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. Earthjustice represents, without charge, hundreds of public interest clients in order to reduce water and air pollution, prevent toxic contamination, safeguard public lands, and preserve endangered species. My area of expertise is hazardous and solid waste law. I have worked previously as an Assistant Regional Counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency enforcing federal hazardous waste law and providing oversight of state programs. I appreciate the opportunity to testify this morning. The question before this subcommittee, how the federal government should address the risks of coal combustion waste, has a straightforward answer. Simply stated, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must do what it committed to do in its final Regulatory Determination on Wastes from the Combustion of Fossil Fuels, published 8 years ago. Yet eight years later, and 25 years after Congress required this determination, EPA’s commitment remains an entirely empty promise.

Human Health Effects of Coal Combustion Waste

Aluminum Lung disease, developmental problems
Antimony Eye irritation, heart damage, lung problems
Arsenic Multiple types of cancer, darkening of skin, hand warts
Barium Gastrointestinal problems, muscle weakness, heart problems
Beryllium Lung cancer, pneumonia, respiratory problems
Boron Reproductive problems, gastrointestinal illness
Cadmium Lung disease, kidney disease, cancer
Chromium Cancer, ulcers and other stomach problems
Chlorine Respiratory distress
Cobalt Lung/heart/liver/kidney problems, dermatitis
Lead Decreases in IQ, nervous system, developmental and behavioral problems
Manganese Nervous system, muscle problems, mental problems
Mercury Cognitive deficits, developmental delays, behavioral problems
Molybdenum Mineral imbalance, anemia, developmental problems
Nickel Cancer, lung problems, allergic reactions
Selenium Birth defects, impaired bone growth in children
Thallium Birth defects, nervous system/reproductive problems
Vanadium Birth defects, lung/throat/eye problems
Zinc Gastrointestinal effects, reproductive problems

Source: ATSDR ToxFAQs, available at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html

The Coal Industry’s Unabated War on Americans’ Health pdf
Eight AM on a Saturday morning, fresh snow has been falling for two hours. My daughter Shelly asked if we could make snow ice cream. I said sure. We got a large bowl and went outside. As I scooped the snow to fill the bowl, it was covered with red, black and brown specks as if someone had shaken a container of seasoning much as one would over mash potatoes. So I scratched away an inch and below was more particulate matter. In fact, as I looked around, all of the snow was polluted. What was remarkable was that this was not considered unusual. Whether you live in Appalachia, the Pacific coast, across the industrial Midwest, just about anywhere in America, you exist in stew of pollution, 24-7, with heavy metals, greenhouse gases, and dozens of particulate matter, that come directly from the coal industry.

Prison Industries Uses Inmates for Cheap Coal Miners
December 22, 2009—Some Indiana prison inmates are going to start training for new careers as coal miners. Vincennes University will hold coal mining classes for three to 15 students at the medium-security Branchville Correctional Facility in southern Indiana. The state Department of Correction says classes in underground and surface mining will be offered. Prison staff will review inmate records and assess career interest surveys to determine who can participate. The program is being paid for by a federal grant.

Broken promises follow Tennessee coal ash disaster
It was one year ago that a 60-foot-tall dam broke at holding pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston power plant in Roane County, Tenn., dumping more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash onto a nearby community and into the Clinch and Emory rivers. The largest industrial waste spill in U.S. history, the ash slide covered more than half a square mile, damaging 42 residential properties, knocking one home completely off its foundation and rendering three others uninhabitable. It dumped some 2.66 million pounds of 10 toxic pollutants including arsenic, lead and mercury into the nearby rivers -- more than all the surface-water discharges from all U.S. power plants in 2007, according to a recent analysis. The pollutants in coal ash have been linked to health problems including cancer, liver damage and nervous-system disorders. On the first anniversary of the Kingston disaster, coal ash remains unregulated by the federal government -- and thus Americans remain at serious risk from its hazards. View video

EPA to announce first-ever federal coal ash storage standards
December 22, 2009—In response to last year’s coal ash spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) soon will announce the first federal standards for the storage of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. The new rules, which could include the regulation of coal ash as a hazardous substance, would be the federal government's most significant response to date to the disastrous coal ash spill that occurred a year ago today at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant. "The TVA spill absolutely focused the nation's attention on the dangers of coal ash, not only its disposal in high-hazard dams, but its disposal anywhere where it can harm human health and the environment," said Lisa Evans, an attorney for Earthjustice.

Congratulations, No New Coal Plants in 2009
No new coal plants broke ground in 2009, a result of a combination of widespread public opposition, rising costs, increasing financial risks and concerns over future carbon regulations. In 2009 twenty-six coal-fired power plants—which would have emitted 146 million tons of carbon dioxide annually– were defeated or abandoned, the largest number of new coal plants defeated since the coal rush began in 2001. This progress opens the way for a transition to a clean energy economy, including a 22.5% increase in electricity generated from wind between 2008 and 2009. Total coal use is down in 2009 according to the , as the Obama administration is considering new regulations for the safe disposal of coal ash, and limiting emissions of mercury, soot, smog and global warming pollution from coal plants. Since the beginning of the coal rush in 2001 when there were more than 150 proposed coal plants announced, 111 proposed new coal plants have been defeated or abandoned, keeping over 450 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the air each year. Tens of thousands of concerned citizens across the country have joined the beyond coal movement, helping bring about tangible change in the way America is powered.

The Growing Trend Against Coal-Fired Power Plants pdf
The past year has witnessed a remarkable and growing rejection of efforts to increase our nation’s reliance on coal as a source for power. Just a few years ago a new coal rush was widely predicted. Today communities throughout the country are rejecting this 19th century approach, due to concerns about escalating construction costs, uncertainty regarding the cost of future carbon dioxide (“CO2”) regulations, and the economic and environmental benefits of cleaner energy sources. As the investment company Citigroup stated in its recent decision to downgrade coal stocks, “prophesies of a new wave of Coal-fired generation have vaporized” and the industry is “likely to be structurally impaired by new regulatory mandates applied to a group perceived as landscape-disfiguring global warming bad guys.”

Coal Plant Conversion Projects
There is a growing trend in the utility industry to convert existing coal-fired power plants to burn what are considered to be more environmentally-friendly fuel types, such as biomass and natural gas, though whether such conversions are environmentally beneficially remains controversial. This trend is driven by a number of factors, including state-level renewable portfolio standards; federal incentives and looming environmental regulations; consumer demand and environmental awareness; and an economic climate that is making coal less attractive. Although conversion costs can be expensive, utilities already have the facilities sited and water supply and transmission lines established. Converting existing facilities can often cost less than installing the emissions control systems required to keep an antiquated coal plant running.

“Tell your rep that giving away your rights to have the state protect us from the unneeded expense and pollution from coal plants, and chasing clean energy jobs out of our state, is an incredibly stupid thing to do.”
Anne Woiwode

How Low Will Coal Go! Michigan Senate makes last-minute effort to change rules for coal plants
In a vote of 21-16 yesterday the Senate-approved legislation that would forbid the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from considering whether a proposed power plant is needed and whether there are alternative ways of meeting the state’s energy needs. “The Senate is heaving a ‘hail Mary’ pass to the House on behalf of the state’s big utilities and it smacks of dangerous desperation,” said Anne Woiwode, the Sierra Club’s Michigan director. Mike Shriberg, policy director for the Ecology Center, pointed out that residents of the western Upper Peninsula have been hit with a 33-percent rate increase because of the costs associated with construction of a new coal power plant in Wisconsin. “On the same day that Northern Michigan residents got socked with a huge utility increase, the state Senate saw it wise to pass a bill that will stick even more of us with higher energy costs by forcing us to pay billions of dollars for a new coal plant,” Shriberg stated. “We urge the state House to let common sense to prevail and immediately reject the Senate’s dangerous and costly plan.” Contact Your Michigan Representative Now and tell ‘em to Vote “No” on HB 5220

Act Now
Contact Your Senator to Stop Coal NOW
While many of our country's leaders are pushing for a treaty in Copenhagen on climate change, Michigan's Republican Senate majority just hours ago approved legislation that would all but guarantee a new polluting coal plant will be built in Michigan. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can stop this tremendous backwards step together if you act now. Tell your State Representative to oppose the Senate Substitute for Michigan House Bill 5220. Hard-working Michigan families don't want 33% rate increases for dirty coal, we want clean energy technology and the good-paying jobs that come with it! The Senate bill that bypasses established procedures on coal plant permits is now before the state House, which is meeting in the final hours before leaving for a long holiday break. They must hear from you that breaking the rules to build a new, unneeded coal plant is wrong for Michigan and for clean energy jobs. The Michigan Public Service Commission staff recent said Michigan doesn't need another coal plant build to meet our energy needs. But the Michigan Senate says that doesn't matter--big utility companies and big profits trump common sense and the interest of ratepayers who would be forced to cover the $1.2 billion cost of a new coal plant.

An Excellent Letter to the Michigan Public Service Commission: Re Wolverine Energy pdf
A major reason Wolverine wants to build the 600MW Rogers City plant is they fear little surplus capacity will be available for them to buy from other utilities. However, there are many reasons to believe electric demand will continue will decline in Michigan and there will be ample baseload capacity for Wolverine to purchase.

At First There Were 7: Now There Are None
(Palatka, FL) – The Sierra Club today celebrated the Seminole Electric Cooperative announcement that the company had decided not to go forward with the construction and operation of “Unit 3,” a 750 megawatt coal-fired unit at the Seminole power plant in Palatka, Florida. The coal-fired Unit 3, which was proposing to burn one of the most dirty and dangerous sources of energy available for electricity generation. “ A recent report issued by Physicians for Social Responsibility identified the health risks of coal, claiming that “Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic lower respiratory diseases.” In addition to devastating public health impacts, the proposed plant would have emitted a series of pollutants that degrade the environment and contribute to global warming. Along with 6.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted each year, Seminole’s Unit 3 would have discharged 850,000 pounds of coal soot (particulate matter), 4.6 million pounds of nitrogen oxides, more than 10 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, 4.2 million pounds of sulfuric acid mist, nearly 10 million pounds of carbon monoxide and 146,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds each year.

American Municipal Power will not build coal-fired power plant
Ohio—American Municipal Power, the largest wholesale supplier of power to Cleveland, has decided not to build a controversial coal-fired power plant on the Ohio River in Meigs County. AMP is looking at building a smaller gas-fired power plant instead. The cost of building it have jumped 37 percent since May to nearly $4 billion, making a coal-fired plant uncompetitive. The increased costs convinced AMP that it was prudent to look at natural gas systems and pursue new long-term wholesale contracts because wholesale power prices have tumbled throughout the Midwest.

Eastman drops coal gasification project
December 9, 2009 KINGSPORT, TENN.—Eastman Chemical Co. announced Dec. 9 that it will discontinue a industrial coal gasification project in Beaumont, Texas. The company had expected gasification to allow Eastman to equal or beat U.S. natural gas prices. But the company dropped the project due to several factors, "including high capital costs, the current and foreseen reduced spread between natural gas and oil and petroleum coke prices, and continued uncertainty regarding U.S. energy and environmental public policy," the company said in a news release [Editor: Eastman customers will have to cover the energy speculation losses to date through increased utility rates. The loss is currently estimated to be between $150 million and $180 million.
]

DTE Energy invests $600M to reduce Monroe plant's air pollution
DTE Energy -- the state's largest utility -- will begin construction in January on a $600 million project to reduce air polluting emissions from its coal-fired plant in Monroe. The investment will create 600 temporary construction jobs over the next five years and spin off an additional 300 jobs from indirect economic activity, the company said Tuesday. The project calls for installing scrubbers to help reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. "Emissions regulations are changing, and we looked at various alternatives to comply. We determined this was the most economical approach," said DTE spokesman John Austerberry, referring to both state and federal limits on emitting sulfur, nitrogen and mercury into the atmosphere. The hefty price tag helps consumers better understand the cost of ... coal-fired plants.

Peak Coal: Much Sooner Than You Think
Rising gasoline prices brings usually bring bouts of worry about "peak oil," the idea that petroleum supplies will peak and then inexorably decline, leading to price shocks. Recent studies have stirred up similar concerns about peak coal. Stop right there. Peak coal? Why would anyone worry about peak coal? Haven't we been told that the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal, with a domestic supply exceeding 200 years? Maybe not, if new information from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is on the mark. In December, USGS reported the results of its detailed look at the mammoth Gillette field in Wyoming's Poudre River basin, the most productive coal region in the country. Coal fields will start to run out in as little as ten years.

New Power Plants Unnecessary in Michigan
A report by a state agency says there will be no new demand for electricity in Michigan until 2022. The Michigan Public Service Commission says proposed new coal plants by Consumers Energy and Wolverine Power are unnecessary and unjustified. The commission says demand for electricity has declined substantially in the last two years. Environmental groups say Michigan's electricity demand can be met with more aggressive energy efficiency and renewable sources such as wind and biomass.

USDA Encourage Farmers To Put Coal Ash That Contains Mercury And Arsenic On Crops
The federal government is encouraging farmers to spread material produced by power plant "scrubbers" that remove acid rain causing sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. "This stuff has materials in it that we're trying to prevent entering the environment from coal-fired power plants and then to turn around and smear it across ag lands raises some real questions." With coal wastes piling up around the coal-fired plants that produce half the nation's power, the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture began promoting what they call the wastes' "beneficial uses" during the Bush administration.

Blow for clean coal as UN shuts it out of emissions trading
The clean-coal industry has been shut out of the global emissions trading scheme at the Copenhagen climate change talks, dealing a blow to the UK, US and Australia. A new report by Point Carbon showed this week that inadequate project preparation means almost one third of all the projects under the United Nations’ carbon-trading system fail to deliver any benefits. Ambassadors expressed concerns about “the long-term liability for the storage site, including liability for any seepage”.

   

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Executives Well Paid for Pushing Rogers City Coal Plant
Michigan—Wolverine’s top two earned almost $1 million in 2007. Executives at some of Northern Michigan’s rural electric cooperatives have received handsome compensation and pension packages while promoting a coal-fired power plant for Rogers City that state regulators say is unneeded and that an expert study concludes could at least double the electric rates of their utilities’ members.

County Endorses Coal Ash Burial in Leaky Quarry
Rogers City—Eighteen years ago, a state official cautioned area residents about placing a landfill in the huge limestone quarry next to this port town and its Lake Huron shoreline. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources asked them to think very carefully before burying anything harmful down in the big hole, known as “the world’s largest limestone quarry.” That is because much of the quarry’s moonscaped bottom is below the Lake Huron waterline and is made of leaky limestone known as “karst geology” that constantly seeps lake water into the gigantic hole. In the wrong circumstances, the contents of quarry landfill could quickly spread in unknown, subterranean directions. The Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners did an about-face at the request of Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, which wants to build a 600 MW coal-fired power plant in the quarry, the board endorsed putting a landfill for coal ash there.

Poll: 94% of Americans Want Solar Energy, 3% Want Coal
The US Senate Republicans are trashing hopes for a booming home-grown solar energy sector. Oh, but that’s not news. And neither is the fact that nearly all Americans – across all parties – believe that a solar energy industry is vital to the United States. Ninety-eight percent of Independents. Ninety-seven percent of Democrats. And ninety-one percent of Republicans. The survey findings were released by the SCHOTT Solar BarometerTM yesterday and were conducted by the independent polling firm, Kelton Research. When asked which energy source they would support if they were president, 41 percent picked solar. Three percent chose coal. Together, solar and wind together were favored nearly 20 times more than America’s dirtiest fuel.

EPA: Greenhouse gases endanger human health
WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases are endangering people's health and must be regulated, signaling that the Obama administration is prepared to contain global warming without congressional action if necessary. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson scheduled a news conference for later Monday to announce the so-called endangerment finding. Under a Supreme Court ruling, the so-called endangerment finding is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases released from automobiles, power plants, and factories under the federal Clean Air Act. The EPA has begun the early stages of developing permit requirements on carbon dioxide pollution from large emitters such as power plants.

   

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Coal's Assault on Human Health
Physicians for Social Responsibility has released a groundbreaking medical report, “Coal’s Assault on Human Health,” which takes a new look at the devastating impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health. This report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted by those pollutants on three major body organ systems: the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system. The report also considers coal’s contribution to global warming, and the health implications of global warming.

“Clean Coal” Myth Shattered
December 25, 2008—The New York Times reports today that the coal sludge that surged out of a breached Tennessee Valley Authority impoundment [waste from a "coal" power plant] in Roane County was actually [at least] three times larger than previously estimated. The updated total is 5.4 million cubic yards, “or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep,” [over a billion gallons of sludge].  Evidence has been gathering for years that coal power plant waste poses a very serious risk to human health and the environment. According to a report from the National Research Council, coal fired plants produce 129 million tons of combustion residues every year — enough to fill more than one million railroad coal cars. That’s the second largest waste stream in the United States after municipal solid waste. All that material, consisting of  fly ash, bottom ash (a dry, coarse material from the bottom of the furnace), boiler slag (molten material from the furnace that’s quenched in water), and residues from air pollution control technologies, must be disposed of somehow. The two most common methods are to dump it in a landfill or pile it in a surface impoundment. The waste stored in these coal power plant dumps contain a host of toxic substances, including arsenic (cancer of the bladder, kidneys, liver, lungs, prostate, and skin); boron (harm to male reproductive organs; birth defects); cadmium (kidney damage); chromium (stomach ulcers, kidney and liver damage, increased risk of cancer); and lead (changes in brain and nervous system; learning problems and poor coordination in children). While it’s true that all of these elements occur naturally in rocks and soils, burning of coal causes them to become concentrated in the combustion residues. And a 2007 draft report from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that lagoons and landfills filled with coal combustion waste may present a cancer risk that is 10,000 times greater than federal rules allow. For people drinking groundwater contaminated with arsenic leaking from coal waste impoundments, the risk of contracting cancer could be as a high as one in 100. Federal regulations set a limit of one in 100,000 to one in a million. (For more information, see: “Activists say EPA ignoring theat from coal ash,” by Don Hopey in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.) READ EPA REPORT | TELL THE MICHIGAN DEQ NO TO COAL

coal-for-dummies.jpgCoal for dummies: Study finds that prenatal exposure to coal-plant emissions impedes neurodevelopment
A major new study by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health finds: Closing coal-fired power plants can have a direct, positive impact on children's cognitive development and health ... Prenatal exposure to coal-burning emissions was associated with significantly lower average developmental scores and reduced motor development at age two. In the second unexposed group, these adverse effects were no longer observed; and the frequency of delayed motor developmental was significantly reduced. The study provides yet more evidence -- if any were needed -- that we need to ban coal plants: "elimination of prenatal exposure to coal-burning emissions resulted in measurable benefits to children's development." This is a sophisticated study, which used molecular markers to directly track exposure to coal plant emissions.

CBM water ponds implicated in sage grouse deaths
Wyoming—Booming coalbed methane development in Wyoming's Powder River Basin is aiding the spread of West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne disease that is particularly lethal to birds, including the imperiled sage grouse, according to new research. The problem, according to researchers at the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the University of Montana, is linked to the millions of gallons of groundwater pumped by coalbed methane (CBM) drillers into holding ponds and dry creek beds every day. The water creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry the disease. "When you have a disease that's causing 100 percent mortality across the range, it's definitely a concern," said Pat Deibert, FWS's lead biologist for sage grouse in Cheyenne, Wyo. The discoveries about CBM drilling, West Nile virus and sage grouse mortality come amid one of the largest sustained natural gas booms in recent history in the Powder River Basin, where nearly 30,000 wells dot the coal-rich region.

The True Cost of Burning Coal FLASH PRESENTATION
Externalities from electricity generation from coal include: air pollution, greenhouse gases, water use/water quality, land use, energy security, coal combustion and mining wastes, health effects from coal burning; Garrett Hardin 1968: a “tragedy of the commons.”

The Plain Honest Truth About Coal Fueled Power Plants
There is no such thing as "Clean Coal." It is nothing more than an advertising slogan ... a marketing gimmick. "Clean Coal" is the process of taking toxic substances, CO2, and soot out of the smoke-stack and furnace ash, cinders, and slag out of the burner, and putting them into, or onto, the ground (and in many cases, through leaching and runoff, into our creeks, rivers, lakes, and drinking water supplies! That's not clean. It's an irresponsible redistribution of toxic filth.
This can happen to you Rogers City, Holland, Midland, Essexville, Filer Township, Lansing, Marquette, and Alma—Say NO to Coal Now—before it's too late!

It doesn’t make sense to keep investing in coal plants

Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. is gearing up for an unusual fight
Oklahoma—The state’s largest electricity provider is trying to avoid spending more than $1 billion to clean up emissions from two coal plants in Oklahoma that contribute to the "regional haze” at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuges and other federal wildlife areas. A regulation growing out of 1992’s federal Clean Air Act forces states to form a plan for reducing sulfurous emissions that hamper visibility that will hit certain benchmarks by 2064. OG&E President Pete Delaney said Environmental Protection Agency regulations could cause "the largest rate increase ever in the history of our company.” Officials said the EPA’s plan to curb emissions could add about 30 percent to utility bills. Delaney said utility companies also must be concerned about future legislation dealing with carbon dioxide emissions. He said it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in coal plants if lawmakers decide to limit their use.

Does "Clean Coal" make economic sense?
For those who like to cut to the chase, here's the short answer. Carbon capture and storage is risky and expensive. Coal to liquid only makes sense if you ignore carbon emissions or if expect we'll lose access to foreign sources of oil. But, read on. There's another major challenge you probably aren't aware of. Several recent studies of US coal supplies suggest that much that we think we know about coal is wrong. Back in April, Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall (WV-03), spoke to this unpleasant truth. He noted "the state's most productive coal seams likely will be exhausted in 20 years." Carbon capture and storage is going to be very expensive—if it is even possible to accomplish on the scale that is being proposed.

Carbon capture’s done, debate over power is not
Holland, MI — The U.S. Department of Energy’s decision not to extend a $380 million federal grant for a carbon-capture project in Holland eliminates the leading motivation for the Holland Board of Public Works to expand its James De Young Power Plant by constructing a new 78 megawatt generator. Now, with the carbon-capture option off the table and Michigan mired in a deep and prolonged recession, can such a major expansion be justified? Estimates of future power demand made just a few years ago now seem outdated. (The Michigan Public Services Commission in 2007 projected 1.4 percent annual growth in the state, while the BPW based its plans on a 1.3 percent annual rate locally.) Power demand today is falling, not rising. Once a topic limited largely to environmentalists, saving energy is on everyone’s minds these days; whether it’s a car or an appliance or home heating, energy costs are now factored into countless consumer decisions. Almost every other home appliance on the market consumes far less energy than models made a decade ago and businesses are routinely turning to “green building” designs. We don’t think this is a fad — conservation is now part of our culture. At the same time, the economy in Holland and across the state stubbornly refuses to rebound.

EPA Set to Regulate Wastewater from Coal-Fired Power Plants
Next to a national wildlife refuge, Indiana’s Gibson Lake provides an attractive rest spot for hundreds of species of birds, including endangered least terns. But the manmade lake, built by one of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants to hold its wastewater, contains high levels of selenium that jeopardize the birds and renders fish unsafe to eat. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing a new regulation that would require more than 600 coal-fired power plants to clean up—perhaps even eliminate—wastewater discharged into lakes, rivers and other waterways.

Utah Supreme Court rules against coal plant
The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that a company fighting to build a coal-fired power plant in central Utah has to obtain a pollution permit all over again. Friday's ruling was a setback for Sevier Power Co., which got its emissions permit in 2004 and, according to the company's lawyer, may not want to bother starting over — the Nevada power producer behind the Utah project — may decide it's not worth the expense and labor to earn a state permit again.

Justices deliver a blow to coal plant
Two rulings by the Utah Supreme Court are making the company behind a coal-fired power plant proposal wonder if the project still makes sense. The court threw new obstacles Friday in front of the Sevier Power Co. by requiring a substantial updating of its air-pollution permit for a 270-megawatt, $600 million electric generator in Sigurd. The extra work, basically requiring the company to ensure the cleanest possible technology is used, could cost millions and take months, if not years. Justices unanimously backed argument.

Clean Coal? BBC Reports
Fool's Gold or the Bright Future? We're not supposed to be keeping coal on life support. For me every dollar that they throw at this experimental technology is a dollar that's kept from real energy solutions.

In Michigan: Less People + Less Jobs = Less Energy Required: Say NO to proposed new Filthy Coal Power Plants
No surprise, really, to anyone who knows what Michigan is going through that the state lost people again in the most recent Census reckonings -- 46,368 people, to be precise, more than any other state. People are leaving Michigan for the same reason that thousands once came here: work. And the population that's hanging in is relatively older, meaning fewer children are being born in Michigan than in other states. This marks the third straight year Michigan has lost people.

Aging coal plants take a heavy environmental toll
U.S. power plants dumped 2.56 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the environment in 2007! That's among the findings of "America's Biggest Polluters," a new report from Environment America. Based on an analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data, the study finds that the nation's power plants are dirty as well as old -- and that those two characteristics tend to go hand in hand. "Coal-fired giants have dominated our electricity for decades and have been allowed to pollute without license," says Environment America's Courtney Abrams.

The REAL Story of Cap & Trade
The Story of Cap & Trade is a fact filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you’ve heard about cap and trade, but aren’t sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you.

Coal Must Embrace the Future
For more than 100 years, coal has been the backbone of the Appalachian economy. Even today, the economies of more than 20 states depend to some degree on the mining of coal. About half of all the electricity generated in America and about one quarter of all the energy consumed globally is generated by coal. Change is no stranger to the coal industry. Think of the huge changes which came with the onset of the Machine Age in the late 1800’s. Mechanization has increased coal production and revenues, but also has eliminated jobs, hurting the economies of coal communities. In 1979, there were 62,500 coal miners in the Mountain State. Today there are about 22,000. In recent years, West Virginia has seen record high coal production and record low coal employment. The increased use of mountaintop removal mining means that fewer miners are needed to meet company production goals. Meanwhile the Central Appalachian coal seams that remain to be mined are becoming thinner and more costly to mine. Mountaintop removal mining, a declining national demand for energy, rising mining costs and erratic spot market prices all add up to fewer jobs in the coal fields. The time has come to have an open and honest dialogue about coal’s future in West Virginia. Let’s speak the truth.

AEP Selected to Receive DOE Funds to Advance Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage to Commercial Scale
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 4, 2009 – American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) was notified by the U.S. Department of Energy that it was selected to receive funding through the Clean Coal Power Initiative Round 3 to pay part of the costs of installing the nation’s first commercial-scale carbon dioxide capture and storage system on its Mountaineer coal-fired power plant in New Haven, W.Va. The DOE announced the funding today. AEP will immediately begin negotiating terms with the DOE to receive $334 million to assist with the installation of the system that will use a chilled ammonia process to capture at least 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from 235 megawatts of the plant’s 1,300 megawatts of capacity. The captured carbon dioxide, approximately 1.5 million metric tons per year, will be treated and compressed, then injected into suitable geologic formations for permanent storage approximately 1.5 miles below the surface. The system will begin commercial operation in 2015, according to the company’s application for funding. [Editor: we need to stop wasting money on experimental technology that presents an enormous risk to all living things, and spend our limited public funds on pursuing real green energy solutions.]

Mine discharges killed Dunkard Creek by
A new federal government report blames coal-mining discharges for creating the conditions that is killing all aquatic life in Dunkard Creek, the scenic stream along the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border. The 17-page EPA report also notes that high conductivity and dissolved solids in the creek — coming from coal-mine discharges — created conditions favorable to the toxic levels. EPA notes that the cleanup plan, called a TMDL, would deal with some of the “stressors” on Dunkard Creek’s water quality. But, the EPA report didn’t really make clear that the TMDL does nothing about the central causes of the fish kill — the high conductivity in the stream, an indication of high dissolved solids such as chlorides coming from the area’s coal-mine discharges.

Governor wants utilities to rethink coal and balance energy production in Michigan
February 3, 2009 LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to make it harder for utilities to justify building new coal-fired power plants, encouraging them to instead rely on more energy conservation. Speaking Tuesday in her seventh annual State of the State speech, Granholm called for reducing the state's reliance on electric plants powered by coal and natural gas 45 percent by 2020. The Democrat said she wants to see 100,000 homes and 1,000 schools in the state weatherized to reduce energy consumption, and get more homes and schools to install solar and wind energy systems. She suggested the monthly savings would pay for the cost of the improvements. Some of that weatherization work can be done by people who have lost their jobs, she added. Four companies have requests before the state Department of Environmental Quality to build new coal-fired power plants, the most requests for new coal plants anywhere in the country. The state already has 19 coal-fired plants. In making it harder for companies to build new power plants that rely on coal, Michigan is following the example of other states. Wisconsin officials recently rejected a request for a new coal-fired power plant, and Kansas officials have rejected proposals to build two plants in the southwest corner of the state.

Exelon to retire 933 MW of capacity in 2011
2 December 2009-- Exelon Power said it plans to retire two coal-fired units and shut down a plant, all in Pennsylvania, starting in 2011. The company said the 345 MW Cromby Generating Station and Units 1 and 2 at Eddystone Generating Station would be shut down. Decreased power demand, an over supply of natural gas, and increasing operating costs, has led Exelon Power to retire these units.

Big Utility to Close 11 Plants Using Coal
December 1, 2009 WASHINGTON — A large Southern utility said Tuesday that it would close 30 percent of its North Carolina coal-fired power plants by 2017, a step that represents a bet that natural gas prices will stay acceptably low and that stricter rules are coming on sulfur dioxide emissions, which cause acid rain.

NC utility to shut down coal plants
RALEIGH, N.C. — Progress Energy Inc. will close 11 coal-burning power plants in North Carolina that don't have scrubbers by 2017, the Raleigh electric utility said. The plan was prompted by state regulators ordering the company to provide retirement plans for the coal-burning plants that lack scrubbers to reduce emissions. The request was part of the state Utilities Commission's approval in October of Progress Energy's plan to build a massive power plant fueled by cleaner natural gas near Goldsboro.

County Endorses Coal Ash Burial in Leaky Quarry
ROGERS CITY—Eighteen years ago, a state official cautioned area residents about placing a landfill in the huge limestone quarry next to this port town and its Lake Huron shoreline. Last month, however, almost two decades after the county took Mr. LaMere's advice and excluded quarry landfills from its part of a regional, state-mandated Solid Waste Management Plan, the Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners did an about-face. At the request of Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, which wants to build a 600 MW coal-fired power plant in the quarry, the board endorsed putting a landfill for coal ash there. Without a landfill in the quarry, Wolverine would have to annually haul at least 500 thousand tons of ash—80 semi truckloads a day—laced with heavy metals to another, perhaps distant, location. The decision angered many opponents of the landfill, including a former member of the county's planning commission. Coal ash typically contains lead, mercury, selenium, cadmium, arsenic, boron, aluminum and other heavy metals that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders. Michigan currently has at least 2,129,700 tons of coal ash placed in landfills. Most of the sites are located close to a Great Lake or a river that feeds them.

Accounting error undermines climate change laws
An important but fixable error in legal accounting rules used to measure compliance with carbon limits for bioenergy could undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging deforestation, according to a new study by 13 prominent scientists and land use experts published in the Oct. 23 issue of the journal Science. Bioenergy use results from burning wood chips from existing forests for electricity... does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and instead may increase them. READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT ON THE RISKS OF BURNING BIOMASS

Coal Industry Hands Out Pink Slips While Green Collar Jobs Take Off
Washington, D.C.-A transition to renewable energy sources promises significant global job gains at a time when the coal industry has been hemorrhaging jobs for years, according to the latest Vital Signs Update released by the Worldwatch Institute. The coal, oil, and natural gas industries require steadily fewer jobs as high-cost production equipment takes the place of human capital. Many hundreds of thousands of coal mining jobs have been shed in China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and South Africa during the last two decades, sometimes in the face of expanding production. In the United States alone, coal industry employment has fallen by half in the last 20 years, despite a one-third increase in production. "Renewables are poised to tackle our energy crisis and create millions of new jobs worldwide," according to Worldwatch Senior Researcher Michael Renner. "Meanwhile, fossil fuel jobs are increasingly becoming fossils themselves, as coal mining communities and others worry about their livelihoods."

Concerned citizens block shipment of generator to Cliffside Coal Plant.
Greenville, SC—Two protestors have locked themselves to the 1.5 million pound generator destined for Duke Energy's Cliffside coal plant in Rutherford County, North Carolina. The controversial Cliffside coal plant would emit over 6 million tons of carbon dioxide ever year in addition to toxic levels of heavy metals such as mercury, greatly exacerbating global warming and our abysmal air quality. Duke Energy is seeking to raise electricity rates in order to pay for the construction of Cliffside at a time when record numbers of families are struggling to put food on the table due to the recession.

Blowing Their Tops
Every day, 3 million pounds of explosives are used to blow the tops off ancient mountain ridges in southern West Virginia to access thin seams of coal underneath. The EPA estimates that by 2010, MTR will have destroyed more than 2,000 square miles of mountains throughout southern Appalachia. It has already buried 2,000 miles of streams, according to data from the EPA and the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining. Stanley said the intimidation is the worst he’s seen in a career that included rough-and-tumble efforts to organize miners into the UMW. “There were miners in the crowd who said they were getting paid to stomp our asses,” he said. If not for two Charleston police officers who intervened, he noted, “death would have occurred to some in our group.” (Some permit opponents’ lives were threatened.) It looked like the hearing was being run by a group called Friends of Coal, Stanley said, because individuals from that group were pressing everyone who walked through the metal detectors to take their t-shirts or stickers. (Environmentalists maintain the Friends of Coal is an “astro-turf” outfit created by the West Virginia Coal Association.)

China on Reducing Its Carbon Footprint: Why Should We Have to?
The accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere has been growing for the past two centuries, during which Europe and the United States emerged as industrial powers. Eighty percent of the gases in the atmosphere are the result of emissions by the developed countries, and on a per capita basis it is even more.

Statewide Group Targets Consumers Energy CEO
20-Nov-2009—Today in Grand Rapids people gathered in front of the Consumers Energy offices in Wyoming, Michigan to kick-off a new campaign targeting David Joos, CEO of Consumers Energy. The Press Conference was one of many throughout the state, where consumers, activists and environmental organization came together to say no to more coal plants that are proposed in Michigan. Erin Knott with Michigan Citizen Action cited a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which supports the idea that Michigan can meet its energy needs through a combination of renewable sources. Some of the finds from this study are:

* Energy efficiency programs could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity costs over the next 20 years.
* Michigan’s previous energy plan, written in 2007, is out of date, with unrealistic projections of future electrical demand, limited implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reliance on outdated 20th century coal technologies.
* Clean renewable energy is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th century plan based on new but obsolete large power plants driven by fossil fuels.

Fossil Fuels’ Hidden Cost Is in Billions, Study Says
Burning fossil fuels costs the United States about $120 billion a year in health costs, mostly because of thousands of premature deaths from air pollution, the National Academy of Sciences reported in a study issued Monday. The damages are caused almost equally by coal and oil, according to the study, which was ordered by Congress. The study set out to measure the costs not incorporated into the price of a kilowatt-hour or a gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel. The study lends support to arguments that society should pay extra for energy from sources like the wind and the sun, because their indirect costs are extremely small. But it also found that renewable motor fuel, in the form of ethanol from corn, was slightly worse than gasoline in its environmental impact.

Stopping Coal in its Tracks pdf
Speaking before the National Press Club in Washington DC, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Sciences and one of the country’s most widely published and outspoken climate scientists, told the audience that the opportunity to avoid runaway global heating—wherein human-induced “forcings” would trigger enough amplifying feedback loops to ultimately produce “a different planet”—was rapidly fading. To address the problem, Hansen made five recommendations, the first of which was an immediate moratorium on the construction of any new coal fired power plants.

Another coal plant bites the dust
We’re celebrating great news out of Minnesota and South Dakota this week: After almost five years of planning and permitting efforts, the participating utilities in the proposed Big Stone II Project announced ... Monday that they will end their quest to build the project’s large coal-fired power plant and associated transmission facilities.

Relying on coal plants plays Russian roulette with our money and health
We must look to the future instead of the past when we think of how to power our growth in the 21st century. The fact is that the future costs of coal are extremely uncertain and very likely to go up, leading major investors and corporations, including JP Morgan and Chase, Citigroup and many others, to shy away from the financial risk associated with the construction of new coal-fired power plants. The Obama administration is preparing a series of regulations that make coal a bad bet for the future. To tie ourselves to coal at this point in the game would be playing Russian roulette with our children's future. Advertisement The best way to reach a clean energy future for Michigan and the country is for Congress to pass a law that limits global warming pollution and fosters growth and investments in the full suite of alternative energy sources, like wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. According to the Brattle Consulting Group, smart grid technologies could reduce overall electricity consumption nationally 6 percent and peak demand by as much as 27 percent, saving between $175 billion and $322 billion over 20 years. These innovations will strengthen Michigan's economy. According to a recent study by the Political Economy Research Institute, investments in clean energy technologies could create nearly 61,000 jobs in Michigan.

EcoPolitology
When President Obama tapped Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for Secretary of Health and Human Services, there may have been some tightening in the chests of those fighting an expansion of the Holcomb Station coal-fired power plant - an expansion Sebelius has fought hard against.

Coal Group Is Linked to Fake Letters on Climate Bill
August 4, 2009—A trade group representing coal producers and power companies says that it indirectly hired a lobbying firm that sent fake letters to lawmakers purporting to be from nonprofit groups opposed to climate-change legislation. Coal Group Reveals 6 More Forged Lobbying Letters | Forgery Group, Bonner & Associates, Has A Decades-Long History Of Astroturf Tactics

Trouble in store
A RECENT American television advertisement features a series of trustworthy-looking individuals affirming their faith in the potential of “clean coal”. One by one, a sensible old lady in a hat, a lab-coated scientist standing by a microscope, a fresh-faced young schoolteacher, a weather-beaten farmer and a can-do machinist face the camera square-on and declare, “I believe.” The idea that clean coal, or to be more specific, a technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), will save the world from global warming has become something of an article of faith among policymakers too. Despite all this enthusiasm, however, there is not a single big power plant using CCS anywhere in the world. Environmentalist groups worry that captured carbon will eventually leak. In short, the world’s leaders are counting on a fix for climate change that is at best uncertain and at worst unworkable. [EDITOR: C02 is only one of the gases emited when burning coal. Coal fueled power plants generate enormous amounts of toxic waste that far exceed C02 emmissions and are of a greater concern to living organisms, including people. The bottom line is that there are more sensible green energy technologies that offer more hope. If only politicians can just learn to say NO to cash from coal industry lobbyists. Watch the video above for an idea of what might happen in your community.]

The Dirty Lie | VIDEOS
The truth is that once you factor in all the true costs, the moonscapes left by mining practices, the deaths of coal miners because industry lobbyists have gutted mine safety regulations, the neurological damage to our future generations from mercury contaminated fish, the asthmatic children and heart attack victims, those who have suffered from strokes or cancer as a result of breathing and drinking pollution from coal, and more, coal is the most expensive form of energy on the planet.

100 Coal Plants Prevented or Abandoned, Including 3 in Michigan PDF
As of today 100 coal plants have been defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush this century, including the Tondu Northern Lights Plant proposal in Manistee, the LS Power MidMichigan Energy plant proposal, and Northern Michigan University’s proposed heating plant in Michigan. In their place, a smart mix of clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal has stepped up to meet America’s energy needs. Last year 42 percent of all new power producing capacity came from wind, and for the first time the wind industry created more jobs than mining coal. Despite Michigan’s difficult economic situation, wind and solar energy manufacturing has been one of the bright spots for job creation in the state.

Blowing down a mountain
Mining syndicates are detonating 2,500 tons of explosives each day -- the equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb weekly -- to blow up Appalachia's mountains and extract sub-surface coal seams. King Coal is now accomplishing what the glaciers could not -- obliterating the hemisphere's oldest, most biologically dense and diverse forests. Mountaintop removal coal mining is the worst environmental tragedy in American history. When will the Obama administration finally stop this Appalachian apocalypse? S

Coal Group Is Linked to Fake Letters on Climate Bill
August 4, 2009—A trade group representing coal producers and power companies says that it indirectly hired a lobbying firm that sent fake letters to lawmakers purporting to be from nonprofit groups opposed to climate-change legislation.

Coal Group Reveals 6 More Forged Lobbying Letters
Forgery Group, Bonner & Associates, Has A Decades-Long History Of Astroturf Tactics

NASA'S James Hansen Arrested During Coal Mining Protest
NASA climate scientist James Hansen and 30 other demonstrators were arrested in West Virginia while protesting the practice of mountaintop=removal coal mining, mountaintop removal is producing only seven percent of the nation’s coal and it’s a destructive practice.” The mining technique, which involves blasting the tops off Appalachian mountains to get at coal seams below, has buried more than 800 miles of streams in mining debris and has severely damaged or destroyed an area of forest nearly as large as Delaware.

Rural Electric Co-ops Threaten Climate Deal
Chelsea Maxwell, a former climate adviser to now-retired Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), said that the rural co-op situation was "maddening" during a failed attempt last year to push a cap-and-trade bill through Congress. "No matter what you do or what you say, there's a sense that their head is in the sand and their response will be 'No, no, no,'" she said. She did not meet with English directly, but her thoughts were echoed privately by other NRECA critics

US Climate Report Details Energy, Agriculture Harm
Climate change has already caused "visible impacts" in the United States and poses particular risks to the U.S. "Human induced climate change is a reality, not only in remote polar regions (and) in small tropical islands, but every place around the country -- in our own backyards." The House climate bill aims to reduce carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Its success is considered crucial to U.S. legitimacy at international talks on climate change in December, but chances of passage in the U.S. Senate are unclear. The United States is the biggest per capita emitter of the climate-warming gas carbon dioxide. "The White House report on climate change is a stark confirmation of what scientists have been saying for years: unless we dramatically curb our emissions, the world will face unprecedented climate disruptions that will lead to drought, flooding, rising seas, food insecurity and mass displacement,"

Developments Climate Negotiators Should Heed
The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported on a U.S. Geological Survey report [PDF] suggesting that economically extractable coal reserves in the United States, typically measured at some 240 years' worth, could be substantially less abundant than previously thought - perhaps only half the estimated reserves. "We really can't say we're the Saudi Arabia of coal anymore," the head of the study told the Journal. The news is consistent with the findings of a 2007 National Research Council study and is similar to other reports of overestimates of economically recoverable coal reserves in other countries. Read: U.S. Geological Survey report [PDF]

Coal's Pipedream?
President Obama should be applauded for taking climate change seriously, recognizing that the phenomenon can be traced to the burning of fossil fuels and intensifying the search for viable solutions. In one of its centerpiece initiatives, however, the administration may be digging a very expensive dry hole. Hydrologists are worried that the buried carbon dioxide -- mixed with other pollutants produced by the burning of coal -- could migrate in unforeseen ways and contaminate sources of groundwater. It may be possible to answer all these concerns, but there's a larger question: Is this really a good idea? Is this the legacy we want to leave to future generations -- thousands of sites, labeled "off-limits," where we've deposited the harmful residue of our toxic addiction to fossil fuels? The Obama administration is spending $2.4 billion from the stimulus package on carbon capture and storage projects -- a mere down payment. Imagine what that money could do if it were spent on solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. Imagine if we actually tried to solve the problem rather than bury it.

Truth or Die ?
It is indeed feasible to capture the carbon produced by coal-burning power plants and bury it. But it is expensive—a power plant capable of carbon capture would cost up to 50 percent more to build than a conventional plant, and that doesn’t take into account the cost of the massive infrastructure needed to transport the carbon to storage sites and pump it underground. And would the stuff stay down there? Scientists acknowledge that they can’t be absolutely certain that the carbon dioxide will never migrate. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, and a ground-hugging cloud would suffocate anyone it enveloped. That is what happened in Cameroon in 1986 when naturally occurring carbon dioxide trapped at the bottom of Lake Nyos erupted and killed 1,746 people in nearby villages. Hydrologists are worried that the buried carbon dioxide—mixed with other pollutants produced by the burning of coal—could migrate in unforeseen ways and contaminate sources of groundwater.

Wall Street Journal warns of impending coal shortages
Today’s Wall Street Journal includes an article (Subscription required) that highlights this problem: While there is almost certainly as much coal in the ground as … [the] Energy Information Administration believes, relatively little of it can be profitably extracted. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey completed an extensive analysis of Wyoming’s Gillette coal field, the nation’s largest and most productive, and determined that less than 6% of the coal in its biggest beds could be mined profitably, even at prices higher than today’s.

Duke ordered to shut down three Indiana coal generators
May 29, 2009-by Andrew M. Harris, Bloomberg Energy. “The court’s conclusion that Cinergy illegally emitted hundreds of thousands of tons of air pollution, and irreparably harmed the public, provide ample support for its order,” Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, said in an e- mailed statement. Cinergy Corp., now part of Duke Energy Corp., was ordered by a U.S. judge to shut three units of an Indiana power plant for federal Clean Air Act violations incurred during renovations more than 17 years ago.

Obama Must Say No to the Coal Barons Desecrating Our Mountains
Now is the time for us to flex some grass-roots political muscle. To let him know we expect no more weaseling on his pledge to stop "blowing the tops off mountains," call the White House operator and ask for Nancy Sutley. She heads Obama's Council on Environmental Quality and needs to hear that We the People give a damn: (202) 456-1414.

Appalachian Advocates React To Obama’s Plans to Address Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
While the administration’s announcement demonstrates some good intentions, particularly in their emphasis on green jobs in Appalachia, they are seeking compromise on an issue that is continuing the Bush Administration legacy of sacrificing Appalachian Mountain communities,” said Willa Mays, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices. “Their priorities do not take into account that mountains are being blown up today, and until mountaintop removal coal mining is ended, residents will continue to suffer from high disease rates, floods, and poisoned water supplies directly attributable to this mining practice.

Wolverine Mum On Coal Plant’s Price
When Wolverine Power Cooperative announced plans to build a new, coal-burning power plant near Rogers City, the company said it would cost about $1.2 billion. But although a lot has changed in the coal and utility industries since Wolverine’s announcement three years ago, the co-op refuses to publicly discuss how those changes affect its proposed plant’s 2006 price tag. Many financial experts familiar with the energy and coal industries say that those changes have made the cost of new coal power very high, and made investing in new coal plants very risky. That, they say, is why utilities around the United States cancelled approximately 100 new coal plants in recent years, often in favor of less risky, cheaper energy efficiency and renewable energy plans.

Carbon Capture Can't Make Coal Clean
If coal is so readily available, why are we detonating the equivalent of 15,000 tons of ammonium nitrate (roughly the equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb) each week to get it? Repairing the damage from this "cheap coal" extraction will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars. My great fear is that by legitimizing the most destructive fuel on earth, we may be stepping full on into a nightmare of "clean coal" -- a twisted world order in which hundreds of thousands of unnecessary human deaths and unprecedented environmental catastrophe are all justified in the pursuit of "cheap" coal. So let me proclaim it: Carbon capture is perhaps the worst possible economic investment we could make right now (maybe only second to liquefying coal to replace gasoline, the folly of which cannot even be put into words).

Michigan Energy Bills To Get SurchargesClean Energy Now Michgian
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan regulators are letting utilities add fees to energy bills to meet new renewable power and energy-efficiency requirements. Starting Sept. 1, Consumers Energy's residential electric customers will pay $2.50 a month for a renewable energy program. Beginning July 1, Consumers Energy's electric customers will pay 71 cents per month for a program designed to reduce power usage. The utility's natural gas customers will pay $1.72 a month for energy efficiency. [Editor: Rather than tax the polluter, Michigan taxes the solution. It is this backward thinking that continues to place Michigan as a leader in pollution, rather than a leader in energy solutions.]

Coal-fired power plant losing support
Four of 10 electric membership cooperatives planning a $2 billion coal-fired power plant in Washington County have pulled out of the project. Excelsior EMC and GreyStone Power Corp. all announced this week their intentions to abandon participation in the project, said Midge Sweet, the campaign director for Georgians for Smart Energy.

The Dirty Lie | VIDEOS
The coal industry and their lobbyists want you to believe coal is clean. The truth is that once you factor in all the true costs, the moonscapes left by mining practices, the deaths of coal miners because industry lobbyists have gutted mine safety regulations, the neurological damage to our future generations from mercury contaminated fish, the asthmatic children and heart attack victims, those who have suffered from strokes or cancer as a result of breathing and drinking pollution from coal, and more, coal is the most expensive form of energy on the planet. The truth is that coal pollutes our water, devastates our communities, forests and mountains, kills wildlife and contributes to climate change. Coal has poisoned our drinking water and our fish, contaminating our bodies and babies with mercury and other toxins. Coal causes a long inventory of serious illnesses, including asthma, kidney and heart disease, cancer and premature death.

Big Coal's Biggest PR Budget Yet Confuses the Facts
They’ve put the black rock on billboards in swing states and splashed it on full-page ads in Roll Call. They sponsored presidential debates on CNN, and their “clean coal” boosters were a fixture on the campaign trail. They’re the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a collection of 48 mining, rail, manufacturing and power-generating companies with an annual budget of more than $45 million — almost three times larger than the coal industry’s old lobbying and public relations groups combined. ACCCE (pronounced “Ace”) is just celebrating its first birthday, but it has already become a juggernaut shaping the terms of the climate change debate on Capitol Hill — even while weathering a high-profile assault by critics who accuse it of peddling hot air. Lucas said ACCCE’s effort to sell that stand is built around the idea that “public opinion shapes public policy.” Hence, the unprecedented blitz of direct-to-consumer advertising. David Hawkins, director of climate programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said ACCCE’s approach won’t spur needed private investment. “They’re going to argue any climate program should be so slow-acting that essentially it doesn’t change business practices in the next 20 years or so, and that is simply incompatible with the needs of climate protection.” Senate disclosure forms reveal that ACCCE spent $9.95 million on Washington lobbying last year.

EPA objects to 3 more mine permits
April 8th, 2009: Per the Coal Tattoo blog - "U.S. EPA officials have lodged objections to three more mountaintop removal mining permits that the federal Army Corps of Engineers was prepared to issue." Here is the press release from the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards and the Sierra Club.

Obama Administration suspends mountaintop removal permits for further review
March 24th, 2009: The Environmental Protection Agency announced it would suspend and review permits for two mountaintop removal coal mining operations -- and review hundreds more mountaintop coal mining permits to evaluate their impact on our nation's streams and wetlands.

Coal Hard Facts: Cleaning It Won't Be Dirt Cheap
Whatever the truth about "clean coal," consumers will be paying for it one way or another. Coal's problem is that it is dirty. When burned, it spews out more carbon dioxide than any other fossil fuel. Globally, burning coal to make electricity is the biggest single source of man-made CO2 -- bigger than gasoline-powered cars and trucks. Governments world-wide are advocating massive cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. Cleaning coal is very expensive. The Pleasant Prairie power plant exposes the hyperbole on both sides of the debate. It burns some 13,000 tons of coal daily to produce 13% of the electricity consumed by all of Wisconsin. New rooms of machinery have been added to scrub a swirl of pollutants from the plant's exhaust before it is released into the air. Today, half as much space at the plant is devoted to preventing pollution as to producing power. That has slashed the plant's output of chemicals that cause respiratory disease and acid rain. But it has done nothing to trim the plant's emissions of CO2. This coal-fired power plant is cleaner than it once was, but it still isn't "clean." This plant pours out some 8.6 million tons of CO2 annually -- about as much as 1.7 million U.S. cars. Earlier this decade, the federal government launched a multibillion-dollar research program intended to build a carbon-free, coal-fired power plant. Last year, when the cost of that program nearly doubled to $1.8 billion, the government effectively shut it down.

EPA Puts Mountaintop Coal Mining Projects On Hold
In a move that took the coal industry by surprise, the Environmental Protection Agency put hundreds of mountaintop coal-mining permits on hold Tuesday to evaluate the projects' impact on streams and wetlands.

Lethal air pollution booms
International experts are warning that potentially lethal air pollution has boomed in fast-growing big cities. The World Health Organization estimates that about two million people die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution, while many more suffer from breathing ailments, heart disease, lung infections and even cancer. Fine particles or microscopic dust from coal or wood fires and unfiltered diesel engines are rated as one of the most lethal forms or air pollution caused by industry, transport, household heating, cooking and coal or oil-fired power stations.

Recession-Related Issues Burden US Power, Electric Companies
Public power and electric cooperatives, already facing prospects for regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and additional capital needs, will likely see the most near-term problems from recession-related issues, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.

Rural Utilities Service Agrees to Moratorium on New Coal-Fired Power Plants
In a response to a letter from Chairman Waxman, RUS stated that it would not fund any new coal-fired power plants until it can calculate and apply a factor to reflect financial risks. Chairman Henry A. Waxman released the following statement: “RUS has made the right decision not to fund new coal-fired power plants until it can calculate and apply a factor to reflect financial risks. RUS needs to account for the financial risks associated with global warming regulations when it considers these applications. Citibank, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America all factor in these financial risks, and RUS should be just as protective of taxpayer funds.”

Twelve thousand young people rally for legislation on climate change
Several thousand demonstrators on Monday urged Congress to pass legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, and they targeted the government's own Capitol power plant as a symbol of the problem. An enthusiastic crowd of mostly young people marched from a park near the Capitol to the small power plant several blocks away, chanting "We don't want the world to boil, no coal, no oil!" Ahjani Yepa-Sprague, an American Indian who lives in Michigan, said coal is destroying her community's way of life. "Every inland lake in Michigan is contaminated with mercury," she said. "This is the first generation in the history of our people that our children cannot eat fish given to us by the creator."

Thousands of Youth Descend on D.C. to Demand New Climate Change Policy
March 2, 2009—Defying a major blizzard, students plan to take the Capitol by storm, with more than 2,500 ready to be arrested. Climate scientists, such as NASA’s James Hansen, warn that the only way to mitigate climate change is to completely stop burning coal to make electricity. The message is clear: This “Yes we Can!” attitude fueled more than 24 million people under 29-years-old to vote Nov. 4. And a majority of these people say that they will settle for nothing less than a complete climate change policy shift in Washington. The students’ demands include immediately cutting carbon emissions, an investment in a green economy fueled by clean energy and that policies are aligned with the principles of climate justice. Many students were moved by stories brought from people across the continent in various workshops who discussed the effects of industrialization, capitalism and colonization in their communities, including high cancer rates, demolished mountains, polluted streams, radioactive mines, changes in the flora and fauna and toxic dumps.

12,000+ Students Attend Largest Youth Summit on Climate Change in US History
This weekend, an estimated 12,000 young people were at the D.C. Convention Center for Power Shift ’09, the largest youth summit on climate change in history. College and high school students from all fifty states, all Canadian provinces, as well as a dozen countries, came together to discuss organizing for a clean energy revolution on the local and national levels. We hear some of their voices.

The Carbon Addicts on Capitol Hill
Washington has seen its share of big protests over the years, and most of them center on the White House, the Mall or the Capitol. That will change tomorrow, when the first big protest of the Obama era -- and the first mass civil disobedience against global warming in this country -- will take place against the not-very-scenic backdrop of the Capitol Hill Power Plant, a dirty symbol of the dirtiest business on Earth, the combustion of coal. In that one plant -- owned and operated by our senators and representatives -- you can see all the filth that comes with coal. There are the particulates it spews into the air and hence the lungs of those Washington residents who enjoy breathing. There are the profits it hands to the coal industry, which is literally willing to level mountains across West Virginia and Kentucky to increase its fat margins. And most of all there is the invisible carbon dioxide it spews each day into the atmosphere, drying our forests, melting our glaciers and acidifying our oceans.

Carbon Dioxide: Regulating Emissions Following a Long and Winding Road pdf
New coal-fired electric generation development efforts are higher-risk investments subject to vigorous opposition through regulatory and legal jurisdictional venues – risks already incorporated into ratings and rating outlooks. Substantial complexity of issues regarding legal interpretations and jurisdictional strategies will continue to challenge monitoring progress. Issuers affected include all companies operating in the U.S. with coal-fired generation development plans, including investor-owned electric utilities, municipal utilities, G&T cooperatives and non-regulated wholesale merchant generators and specific generation projects.

Sensitivity to Fuel Prices pdf
Variations in fuel prices can materially affect the levelized cost of energy for conventional generation technologies, but direct comparisons against “competing” Alternative Energy generation technologies must take into account issues such as dispatch characteristics (e.g., baseload and/or dispatchable intermediate load vs. peaking or intermittent technologies)

Americans Are Living in a State of Terror
Dear Mr. President, As I write this letter, I brace myself for another round of nerve-wracking explosives being detonated above my home in the mountains of West Virginia. Outside my door, pulverized rock dust, laden with diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate explosives hovers in the air, along with the residual of heavy metals that once lay dormant underground. The mountain above me, once a thriving forest, has been blasted into a pile of rock and mud rubble. Two years ago, it was covered with rich black topsoil and abounded with hardwood trees, rhododendrons, ferns and flowers. The understory thrived with herbs such as ginseng, black cohosh, yellow root and many other medicinal plants. Black bears, deer, wild turkey, hawks, owls and thousands of [other] birds lived here. The mountain contained sparkling streams teeming with aquatic life and fish. Now it is all gone. It is all dead. I live at the bottom of a mountain-top-removal coal-mining operation. Mountaintop removal is the dirty secret in our nation's energy supply. If coal can't be mined clean, it can't be called clean. Here, at the point of extraction, coal passes through a preparation plant that manages to remove some, but not all, of the metals and toxins. Those separated impurities are stored in mammoth toxic sludge dams above our communities throughout Appalachia.

Mich. governor wants utilities to rethink coal
February 3, 2009 LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to make it harder for utilities to justify building new coal-fired power plants, encouraging them to instead rely on more energy conservation. Speaking Tuesday in her seventh annual State of the State speech, Granholm called for reducing the state's reliance on electric plants powered by coal and natural gas 45 percent by 2020. The Democrat said she wants to see 100,000 homes and 1,000 schools in the state weatherized to reduce energy consumption, and get more homes and schools to install solar and wind energy systems. She suggested the monthly savings would pay for the cost of the improvements. Some of that weatherization work can be done by people who have lost their jobs, she added. Four companies have requests before the state Department of Environmental Quality to build new coal-fired power plants, the most requests for new coal plants anywhere in the country. The state already has 19 coal-fired plants. In making it harder for companies to build new power plants that rely on coal, Michigan is following the example of other states. Wisconsin officials recently rejected a request for a new coal-fired power plant, and Kansas officials have rejected proposals to build two plants in the southwest corner of the state.

State wants coal plant alternatives
Michigan—Companies applying to build coal-fired electric plants in Michigan will be asked to show they have considered cleaner alternatives, state environmental regulators said Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said it had told developers of proposed coal plants in Holland and Rogers City to submit analyses of different possibilities within 90 days. A similar requirement could be forthcoming for Consumers Energy's proposed 800-megawatt addition to its Karn-Weadock generating complex near Bay City. The DEQ said it would begin taking public comment on the project next Tuesday.

China blames coal for surge in birth defects
The government's acknowledgment of the problem is a victory for environmentalists, who say the rate of defects is highest in coal-producing regions. Chinese officials told the state media that birth defects are increasing at an alarming rate and that a major reason was degradation of the environment. "The number of newborns with birth defects is constantly increasing in both urban and rural areas," Jiang Fan, vice minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, was quoted by the China Daily's weekend edition as saying in a recent conference. Environmentalists say that the leading culprit is China's dependence on coal and that birth defects are highest in coal-producing regions such as Shanxi and Inner Mongolia.

Pace of Climate Change Exceeds Estimates
CHICAGO, Feb. 14 -- The pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists said Saturday. "We are basically looking now at a future climate that's beyond anything we've considered seriously in climate model simulations," Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Field, a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said emissions from burning fossil fuels since 2000 have largely outpaced the estimates used in the U.N. panel's 2007 reports. The higher emissions are largely the result of the increased burning of coal.

Court Orders Greenhouse-Gas Limits
In a decision with potentially significant ramifications for power companies and the national debate over global warming, a state court in Georgia ruled Monday that a proposed coal-burning power plant can't proceed unless its carbon-dioxide emissions are limited.

State denies coal/biomass plant
State regulators rejected Wisconsin utility unit's plan to build a $1.26 billion coal/biomass unit at an existing power station in Wisconsin. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin denied Wisconsin Power and Light's application for a certificate of need for the 300-megawatt Nelson Dewey Unit 3 near Cassville, Wisconsin, in a 3-0 oral decision. Regulators said the expansion project was too costly when weighed against other alternatives such as natural gas generation or purchased power from existing sources.

Lisa Jackson: Music to my ears
EPA needs to exercise its policy discretion in good faith and in keeping with Congressional and court directives. I pledge to uphold this principle every day if I am confirmed. This commitment, of course, stands in marked contrast to the political interference, incompetence, open defiance of courts from the Supreme Court on down, and simple sycophancy that has characterized the Bush administration's EPA (and the tenure of career scientist-turned-hack Stephen Johnson in particular). The panel's Democrats wasted no time in their efforts to call attention to some of the lowlights of the Bush-Johnson EPA and inquire as to the speed with which Jackson/Obama would work to undo some of the damage. Here too, Jackson's answers were a breath of fresh air. While she judiciously avoided being completely pinned down, Jackson made it clear that the worst actions (or inactions, in many cases) of the Bush-Johnson EPA would be immediately reviewed and dealt with. For instance, Jackson said that the Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. EPA, had compelled EPA to act on global warming, acknowledged that EPA had refused to do so, and said that if confirmed she will resolve this and other issues as soon as possible.

Coal ash dumps a ‘time bomb’ for Michigan water
Michigan has problems stemming from coal ash contamination, regulators and environmentalists say, but because the ash is stored underground the problems have largely gone unnoticed. Stored in unsecured landfills, coal ash can leach toxins into groundwater, endangering the ecosystem of the Great Lakes, which contains 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. The North Lansing Landfill, operated by the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL), is among 24 coal ash dumps identified in a 2007 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report as sites of “proven damage” to groundwater. Lithium, manganese, potassium, selenium and strontium have been detected in the groundwater under the landfill. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality confirmed the EPA report that some toxins have migrated off the dump site and that beyond the border of the landfill lithium is present in the groundwater above levels considered safe for drinking water. Nick Burwell explained that the coal ash dump was originally a gravel pit, and for years ash from the city’s coal-fired power plant was dumped in the pit. Over time the ash compressed and filtered through the gravel at the bottom of the pit. Then the water table rose, saturating the ash and resulting in contamination of the aquifer. “We didn’t know everything that we know now [when the North Lansing Landfill was developed],” Burwell said. “These days we would never situate a landfill in a gravel quarry pit.” [Editor: The proposed coal fueled power plant in Rogers City intends to use exactly this method of storage, with a high probability of the same outcome for the residents there. Read the following story]

Wolverine Bets Its Ash on Lake Huron
Perhaps the biggest unknown in Wolverine Power Cooperative’s Rogers City coal plant proposal is how the firm will dispose of toxic coal and petroleum-coke fly ash, on site, without poisoning the waters of nearby Lake Huron. Coal fly ash is laden with mercury, among other heavy metals. Pet coke ash has no mercury, but its list of toxic heavy metals is longer, and they show up in larger amounts. But there are few details on how Wolverine will contain the ash with cancer-causing contaminants in a land fill in either its Presque Isle County special use permit or in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s draft Permit to Install, the subject of last Tuesday’s final agency hearing in Lansing. When coal ash gets wet, it forms a thick, dangerous sludge like the one that ruined the Tennessee River near Knoxville a few weeks ago. When coal ash gets wet, it forms a thick, dangerous sludge like the one that ruined the Tennessee River near Knoxville a few weeks ago. That bothered former county planning commissioner Tom Harkleroad when he questioned Wolverine closely about the landfill during his panel’s consideration of the plant in 2006. Mr. Harkleroad noticed that the landfill was originally proposed for an elevation below Lake Huron’s water line, even though lake water continually leaks into the quarry. “I’d never heard of a landfill below the lake level, right next to the lake,” Mr. Harkleroad told the Great Lakes Bulletin News Service. “How do you put that fly ash, with all that mercury and heavy metals, down in that hole below the lake level? They are pumping water out of (that) hole constantly. How are you doing that without putting that mercury and heavy metals back out into the water?” “They wouldn’t answer the questions,” Mr. Harkleroad said of Wolverine.

Coal Ash dumps threaten ground water near Lake Michigan shores
Several coal or oil ash waste sites in Michigan and in Wisconsin and Indiana near the shores of Lake Michigan have contaminated nearby ground water and wells that threaten human health, according to a 2007 Environmental Protection Agency. States have done a poor job monitoring huge ponds of coal ash, which aren't regulated by the federal government, says Jack Spadaro, a retired mining engineer. The 2007 EPA study found more than 63 sites in 26 states "where the water was contaminated by heavy metals from such dumps," the New York Times reports.

Toxic ash seepage discovered at Consumer’s Energy dump
In Bay City, where the state’s largest electricity provider, Consumer’s Power, has its Karn-Weadock coal-fired plant, and where it has applied to build an additional coal power plant, seepage from an ash dump has contaminated the nearby Saginaw Bay. According to the Bay City Times, the pollution only became widely known in fall of 2008, when an environmental group researching Consumers Energy’s plans for a new plant discovered state DEQ records detailing seepage of arsenic, boron and lithium in excess of state standards. Saginaw DEQ officials were "unavailable." Terry L. Walkington, supervisor of the DEQ Waste and Hazardous Materials Division in Bay City indicated that mercury, a toxin that is bioaccumulative, affects brain development, has been found outside the landfill at levels that exceed state standards. All the ‘clean coal’ rhetoric means is taking pollutants from the air stream and putting pollutants in the landfill where there is a greater chance for pollutants to leach into water.

Traverse City Light and Power Says NO to Coal
When Traverse City Light & Power Executive Director Ed Rice announced plans for new electrical generation at the Traverse City City Commission meeting that evening, the change for his company that he announced was remarkable. For TCLP, coal has gone from being the first priority for new energy–the position of the municipal utility’s former director a year ago–to the last option on the table. According to Mr. Rice, his muni’s focus now is on a suite of renewable energy options, including a fleet of very small biomass plants in strategic locations around and outside of the city. TCLP is already performing wind measurements at a site north of Traverse City and may soon have an announcement about wind power, as well. The city-owned utility was the first in the state to erect a wind turbine, back in 1996. credit the University of Sydney credit the University of Sydney I applaud TCLP for making such a dramatic change in such a short period of time, in industry terms. The municipal utility responded to the quickly changing financial, political, and regulatory environment surrounding the coal industry, which has seen very little go right for it in the past year. Coal-based utilities now struggle against skyrocketing expenses, toxic waste blunders, a nationwide decreased in electricity demand, and federal regulations. [Editor: We expect other cities in Michigan will soon say NO to Coal very soon as well.]

Re-powering Holland
There’s some bad stuff in the air.. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that Ottawa and Kent counties must do more to limit harmful soot pollution that contributes to serious respiratory and heart problems. Among the biggest sources of soot are coal-fired power plants, such as the James De Young plant right here in Holland. Coal plants pump out massive amounts of fine particulate matter and other pollution that result in 21,000 hospitalizations, 38,000 heart attacks and 24,000 deaths per year nationwide.

Coal Plants Only Blacken Michigan's Future
A shift away from coal-fired power plants to renewable-energy technology would be a strong spur to the construction and manufacturing sectors of Michigan, which have recently seen severe losses. A comprehensive energy policy also emphasizing efficiency would lessen the need for electricity from current coal-burning plants even more. Gov. Jennifer Granholm should be commended for her efforts to stand in the way of new coal plants, which will secure the future of Michigan's economy.

Youth Ask Michigan Governor Granholm to Halt Coal Rush
Before dawn on Tuesday, more than a dozen people from the Traverse City area, including five young adults who had never done such a thing before, jumped into two vans and headed to Lansing for the final state hearing on the coal plant proposed for Rogers City. The hearing, moderated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, allowed folks to voice their support or opposition to the plant, which would be located close to the Lake Huron shoreline and burn petroleum coke, an oil refinery waste product, as well as coal. State lawmakers, local elected officials, nurses, doctors, lawyers, students, and citizens at large all showed up to speak their mind. In fact, they filled the room to overflowing and MDEQ had to schedule several extra “rounds” of testimony to make sure everyone was heard on that day-the last for public comments. What most inspired me was the number of young people in attendance. Interestingly, everyone under the age of 30 who spoke in front of the crowd of about 100 people raised serious concerns about the financial, health, and environmental costs of building a new coal plant in Michigan.

Coal is Dirty from Start to Finish
Coal combustion waste is not usually part of the conversation when the environmental impacts of coal are discussed. Traditionally, most of the "life cycle of coal" is excluded; most politicians, environmental groups, and mainstream media focus on what comes out of the smokestack. Little attention is paid to where the coal comes from, like mountaintop removal coal mining , or to the toxic waste created after the coal is burned. That focus has created stronger laws focusing on decreasing air pollution, by demanding that coal-burning utilities place stronger scrubbers on their operations, thereby making dirty coal "somewhat cleaner" to burn. According to the law of conservation, once matter is created, it cannot be destroyed, but it can be re-arranged. Coal that is burned leaves waste behind, known as coal ash. The "cleaner" coal burns, the dirtier its waste, since toxins that would have been released into the atmosphere are now concentrated into the waste product. Its important to note that all steps in the life cycle of coal wreck communities, from Appalachian coalfield residents watching their mountains being destroyed, to urban areas thick from smokestack pollution, to the incident in Harriman, TN. So, if the mining of coal is dirty, the burning of coal is dirty, and the waste left over from burning and processing coal is dirty, what's the solution?

Michigan: Area Designations for 2006 24-Hour Fine Particle (PM2.5) Standards
This table identifies all counties EPA has designated as nonattainment. In some cases EPA designated partial counties. These are identified by a (P). If a county is not listed below, EPA has designated it as unclassifiable/attainment.

EPA gives Chicago area 5 years to clear the air
Federal environmental regulators on Monday gave the Chicago region five years to clean up harmful soot pollution linked to lung and heart problems. Civic leaders from Kenosha to Naperville to Michigan City, Ind., will need to do more to meet a tougher soot standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has a pending enforcement action against some of the biggest sources of soot in Chicagoland: five coal-fired power plants owned by Midwest Generation. Companies must either clean up or shut down plants. Federal records revealed that the White House Office of Management and Budget edited wording of the new soot rule to soften conclusions reached by independent scientists. [Editor: Michigan's air is filthy too, and one day we will need to clean it up. The absolute last thing we need are new coal fueled power plants in Michigan.]

Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm may stall new coal power plant construction
Concerns over emissions could spell trouble for Hampton Township project A possible moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants in Michigan has some local utility and government officials taking notice. The delay would be imposed to give the state time to formulate regulations on carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Coal opponents around the state have pushed for such measures "with lawsuits, petitions to the governor, and a steady barrage of press and grassroots events for more than a year," the report notes More than 70 new proposed coal plants have been canceled since 2007 (in the U.S.), principally over concern about emissions.

Coal promises fewer jobs than clean energy
In Jan. 8 editorial, The Detroit News argues that outdated, 1950s-style coal-burning plants should be included. This assertion is not only recklessly irresponsible, but it's also misleading. Jobs are a concern for everyone, but coal isn't going to get us there. A study by the Political Economy Research Institute found that Michigan could stand to gain 60,000 new jobs if the state made a commitment to investing in clean energy technology -- that's far more jobs than would ever be created by building more dirty coal plants. Coal costs, too, have been skyrocketing during the past few years, and major banks like Chase, Citigroup and JP Morgan have publicly expressed their concerns and doubts over coal's future. Most recently, power giant Dynegy pulled out of a contract with LS Power to build a coal-fired plant in Midland, citing the many inherent risks of continuing to invest in coal. All this goes without mentioning the drastic toll coal would take on public health and our environment. Pollutants emitted by coal plants account for an estimated 24,000 premature deaths, 38,000 nonfatal heart attacks and 603,000 asthma attacks per year.

Near Unanimous Opposition to Proposed Coal Burning Power
Holland—Last night the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) opened a two-day public hearing on the proposed coal burning power plant for Holland, Michigan. The plant would cost an estimated $240 million without including the sequestering of carbon produced by the plant. A steady stream of Holland residents stepped up to the microphone to express their opposition to the proposed power plant. Many of them expressed concern over pollution, particularly air pollution that will contribute to increased asthma. One woman, who says she suffers from asthma, was convinced that her asthma is a direct result of the existing coal burning power plant based in Holland. A senior citizen who can see the smokestacks from the current power plant says that he and the other senior citizens "are at risk of contracting respiratory problems" because of their proximity to the coal burning plant. Other Holland residents said that renewable energy should be promoted and produced and that the City of Holland should advocate for a reduction of energy consumption by the residents and businesses of the community. Possibly the most compelling speakers during the public hearing were from the Native American community. Each of the Native speakers addressed the issue of mercury contamination that comes with coal burning and said that it disproportionately impacts Native people since they eat more local fish--much of which have high levels of mercury in Michigan. Another Native speaker criticized the DEQ for not conducting "an environmental justice assessment" and said that they felt like this was another example of how the government "does care about the well being of native people."

Say NO to Coal
Back when Michigan's economy was merely slipping, as opposed to cliff-diving, the most detailed forecast of future electricity demand called for just one new coal plant. Thus, it seems reasonable to hold off on permits for coal plants for at least a year. That should provide a better picture on the financial markets, the demand for electricity and, perhaps most important, what kind of greenhouse gas regulations may emerge in Washington. Coal has the unwanted distinction of being the dirtiest fuel in common use today and the one that throws off more carbon dioxide for the amount of energy derived from burning it. (Mining it is also phenomenally destructive, especially in Appalachia, where the preferred technique is blowing up mountaintops and letting the rubble drop into streams -- a travesty no one in Michigan would ever put up with.) The shift away from dangersous dirty coal cannot come soon enough.

Yet Another Coal Spill in Tennesee that we weren't suppose to hear about
A A coal train operated by National Coal Corporation over turned on Friday, January 9, 2009, spilling approximately 1100 tons of coal next to the New River in Scott County, Tennessee. Eight rail cars, which typically hold 120 tons of coal, were involved. The contamination was discovered on Monday, January 12, 2009 by Steve Bakaletz, a Wildlife Biologist with the National Park Service at the Big South Fork (BSF) Recreation Area's Oneida Office. According to Mr. Bakaletz, cleanup had been ongoing through the weekend following the wreck but had not been completed by the time he discovered it. Video of the spill was taken by BSF employees. [Editor: The coal and coal fueled energy industry are clearly hiding their multitude of environmental sins as they battle for their continued existence in a world which is increasingly demanding safe clean energy from the wind, sun, and moving water.]

Faith-Based Groups Fight Big Coal
Tennessee’s recent sludge spill is an obvious reminder that irresponsible coal practices are dirty and devastating. Mountain-top removal coal mining is dirty, noisy, and scars the landscape. It has also harmed Kathy Selvage’s mother’s prayer time. Selvage is a grassroots activist from Wise County, Virginia and vice president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. Enjoying the beauty of God’s creation while she read the Bible was an integral part of her mother’s devotions before the sound of coal mining trucks, bulldozers, and drills began covering up the sounds of the birds. Selvage says that, “the most pain comes when my mother looks across the way now and sees the destruction of God’s creation. She wonders what Bible they read.”

Power plants with coal ash ponds in Michigan

Power plants with coal ash ponds and the amount in tons stored, according to an Associated Press analysis of Energy Department data from 2005, the latest year statistics were available.

Consumers Energy Co. - Bay County - 108,800 tons

Consumers Energy Co. - Bay County - 69,900 tons

Consumers Energy Co. - Monroe County - 3,400 tons

Detroit Edison Co. - Monroe County - 482,000 tons

Lansing City of - Eaton County - 5,100 tons

EPA regulations sought
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said she will file a measure either this week or next asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to immediately undertake a status report on the dangers of coal ash. Boxer said her resolution also will request that the EPA immediately regulate coal ash once the agency has completed that review. Currently the EPA does not regulate toxic coal ash as hazardous waste.

Senator seeks ash pond review; congressman wants standards
President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pledged today to look at the possibility of regulating coal fly ash as the congressman whose committee oversees TVA called for stricter regulation of fly-ash ponds. "I think it's time to re-ask those questions and re-look at the state of regulations." Jackson's stated during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee's chairwoman, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, asked Jackson to quickly assess coal-ash sites across the country and take immediate action to strongly regulate them. Boxer cited the spill of 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash and water from TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant on Dec. 22 as an example of the dangers posed by such sites. "It seems to a lot of us that there are disasters waiting to happen out there," Boxer said. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, is pressing the EPA for answers on why it doesn't regulate coal fly ash, sending a letter Tuesday to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson asking whether the agency believes coal ash and other byproducts from coal-burning power plants should be designated as hazardous waste.

Rush to Coal is Hazardous to Michiganders' Health
The coal industry has launched a nationwide “coal rush” and Michigan sits at its heart, with eight new coal plants proposed for construction. As medical doctors conducting health research at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, we feel compelled to warn that construction of these plants would gravely impair Michigan’s air quality and expose our communities to severe, even lethal health impacts. Advertisement Coal plants release at least 70 different pollutants including nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and mercury. These pollutants are known carcinogens, teratogens, neurotoxins, and/or cardiopulmonary irritants. Let’s look quickly at what that means for Michiganders’ health. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that affects brain development and is especially dangerous to children, infants, nursing mothers, and developing fetuses.

Mercury high at Indiana sites
January 7, 2009-From Abstract of United States Geological Survey report. [Note: Valley Watch complained in the late 1990's that a monitor should be placed in or around Oakland City since that would represent the center of the largest concentration of coal fired power plants in the nation.] Our arguments fell on deaf ears and we believe that was due to state and federal agencies wanting to take an "ignorance is bliss" stance.

An average coal-fueled power plant converts a mere 33 percent of the fuel into energy. The rest is filthy waste.

Egads, yet another toxic spill in less than three weeks: Coal ash disposal becomes burning issue for Alabama
January 04, 2009—Over the course of a year, Alabama Power's immense Miller Steam Plant in northwest Jefferson County burns 12.5 million tons of coal. That coal, brought in daily from Wyoming by the trainload, doesn't just disappear in combustion. Each day, Alabama Power collects the 1,200 tons of ash, a residue containing a toxic concoction of arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals. The second toxic coal waste spill in less than one month occurred Friday—this time in Alabama. The leak--estimated at 10,000 gallons--from a process water pond. The Alabama leak was from a gypsum pond at its Widows Creek Fossil Plant. The pond contains limestone spray from scrubbers that clean sulfur dioxide from the facility's eight coal-fired units. The Alabama creek is a tributary to the Tennessee River, which is also threatened by the spill in Kingston. The city of Scottsboro, Alabama about 15 miles downstream from the Widows Creek Fossil Plant uses the Tennessee River as drinking water. "Even as residents in Roane County Tennessee are still trying to grasp the full impact of the Kingston disaster, communities in northeastern Alabama are now threatened with a new toxic coal waste spill," said Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign. Environmentalists hope that this event will raise pressure even higher for tougher regulations on coal waste, [and stop the construction of new Coal Fueled Power Plants in Michigan {editor)]. According to the Associated Press, millions of tons of toxic coal ash are piling up in surface ponds at 156 coal-fired power plants nationwide. "Shockingly, coal waste is largely unregulated in Alabama," said Gil Rogers, staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. "Alabamans deserve straight answers from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management about how it's handling this waste stream at TVA's Widow Creek plant and if any corrective action procedures are in place to deal with it.

TOXIC COAL SLUDGE UPDATES
Appalachian Voices
Burning the Future
Center for Environmental Justice
Daily Kos
Greeneville Sun
I Love Mountains
I Love Mountains - TVA coverage
Mountain Justice
Roane Views
The Tennessean
United Mountain Defense
United Mountain Defense Blog
Valley Watch - Coal Kills

Latest Ash Spill Site in Alabama Contains Even More Toxic Metals Than Harriman, Tennessee Spill Site From December
Jan. 9—New ash spill at the Widows Creek Fossil Plant in northeast Alabama worst yet!. According to TVA's own data, the Widows Creek plant disposed of even more toxic metals in its coal ash ponds than the TVA Kingston plant, which was the site of a widely publicized pre-Christmas coal ash spill. The EIP's report from earlier this week warned that nearly 100 largely unregulated "wet dumps" across the United States comparable to the TVA's breached site in Harriman, Tennessee for the storage of toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants have a place on one or more of the "worst site" lists for six toxic metals, including arsenic and lead. The site of today's spill -- TVA Widows Creek Fossil Plant, Jackson, AL -- was one of five toxic coal pollution storage sites that showed up on all six of the six worst-site lists for toxic metals.

Waste Spills at Another Coal Power Plant
Alabama—The accident occurred less than three weeks after a rupture in a similar pond at another T.V.A. plant spilled more than a billion gallons of coal ash over 300 acres in East Tennessee. Up to 10,000 gallons of slurry are reported to have spilled, said Scott Hughes, who cautioned that the figure was preliminary. John Wathen, an environmental advocate, flew over the site Friday and said that Widows Creek was inundated with an ashlike substance and that a “mix line” was visible where it met the clearer water of the river. Referring to the earlier spill, at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee, Mr. Wathen added: “This is worse than T.V.A. is acknowledging. Tests of water that has leached from the gypsum pond can yield levels of boron, cadmium, molybdenum and selenium that exceed safety standards. These contaminants can cause cancer and reproductive and neurological problems in humans, and selenium is particularly harmful to wildlife. Currently, there are no federal standards governing how they are stored. [Editor: This can happen in Michigan—put on your thinking caps people—say NO to any new coal fueled power plants in Michigan. We don't need them. Fire up the natural gas fueled power plants that we have already bought and built, if and when we need more power, which we don't and won't in the forseeable future. ]

Coal train derailment spills load, block tracks
January 12, 2009—Illinois—More than one dozen cars filled with coal derailed, tearing away from an eastbound freight train, with many of the derailed cars spilling their coal and damaging tracks and crossings in Earlville today. With both sets of tracks blocked, Amtrak trains were being delayed with possible rerouting anticipated. Many of the cars were piled up in an accordion or zigzag shape near Third Street. The accident wiped out railroad crossing signals at Third.

Fish are harmed and many species have disappeared altogether following coal sludge spill in Tennessee
What the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is finding in fish from the area around the Kingston fly ash spill is troubling but not surprising. One catfish had 33 grams of ash in its stomach. All the 38 fish TWRA netted had abrasions on their scales or skin. All of the fish had discolored gills. All of the fish showed signs of stress. "Mike Jolley (TWRA fisheries biologist) told me typically we should find 23 species of fish here," Hicks said. "So far we have found six."

Clean Energy Now MichgianThe Other Shoe Drops
Prior to the fly ash sludge holding pond rupturing at the Kingston, Tn. steam plant on December 22, not many people even knew what fly ash was. In the aftermath of that disaster, news surfaced that the Tennessee Valley Authority's inspectors had reported as early as March of last year that the same problem existed, and was ignored, at a similar plant in Alabama. Yesterday, an article in the New York Times reported that, despite these holding ponds containing several types of heavy metals considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to be threats to human health and our nation's water supply, they are not subject to any federal regulations.

Toxic Coal Waste: a Hidden History
The massive coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee in late December is rekindling an old but contentious debate over just how to regulate coal ash — the often toxic solid waste left by burning the black rock to produce electricity. The recent spill is shining a new spotlight on coal ash, but the regulatory history is little known. The debate came to a head in a fierce inter-agency struggle in the waning days of the Clinton administration, only to fade during the Bush years.

Millions Of Tons Of Toxic Coal Ash Piling Up Across US
Millions of tons of toxic coal ash is piling up in power plant ponds in 32 states, a situation the government has long recognized as a risk to human health and the environment but has done nothing about. An Associated Press analysis of the most recent Energy Department data found that 156 coal-fired power plants store ash in surface ponds similar to one that ruptured last month in Tennessee. On Friday, a pond at a northeastern Alabama power plant spilled a different material. The man-made lagoons hold a mixture of the noncombustible ingredients of coal and the ash trapped by equipment designed to reduce air pollution from the power plants—[so called “Clean Coal” technology, which is really nothing more than taking toxic pollutants out of the chimney and putting them on the ground, or in the ground, where they find their way into the water we recreate in and drink, poisoning the one thing that is absolutely essential to support life on earth —water.] Coal ash ponds are subject to less regulation than landfills accepting household trash, even though the industry's own estimates show that ash ponds contain tens of thousands of pounds of toxic heavy metals. The EPA estimates that about 300 ponds for coal ash exist nationwide.

Clean Coal Waste Piles Bigger Danger Than Previously Shared with the Public
Nearly 100 largely unregulated "wet dumps" across the United States that are comparable to the Tennessee Valley Authority's breached site in Harriman, Tenn., for the storage of toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants have a place on one or more of the "worst site" lists for six toxic metals, including arsenic and lead, according to a new data analysis from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). In fact, many of the toxic coal ash "wet dump" sites around the United States appear to pose a greater potential danger than the Tennessee site that is now in the headlines. In the case of deadly arsenic, which has been detected in water polluted by the TVA site disaster in Tennessee, the Stanton Energy Facility in Orlando, Fla., has reported dumping roughly 10 times more of the carcinogen in its site between 2000 and 2006 than the TVA did over the same period in its now ruptured Harriman storage pond site. According to the EIP analysis, at least 20 coal pollution dump sites reported more arsenic in coal ash impoundments than the Kingston site.

Another Coal Casualty
With new climate change legislation all but guaranteed, fossil fuel depletion a reality, and more and more states initiating new renewable portfolio standards, power plant developers are going to find it in their best interests to seek cleaner, safer forms of power generation.

Future of 'clean' coal fires furious debate
Clean-coal technology is proving costly, will take decades to become commercially viable, and will not adequately resolve coal's polluting footprint, they add. "Clean coal doesn't exist - it's a PR device." The "clean" in "clean coal" refers to a reduction of its environmental impact when burned to generate electricity. Three main technologies - pre-combustion (gasification), post- combustion and oxygen-fuel combustion - have come to the fore, designed to isolate pollutants so they can be sequestered underground or otherwise stored [it is this stored concentrated toxic waste that is making the news as it escapes from containment ponds decimating the surrounding environment driving people out of their homes and communities].

Costs of sludge spill to show on electric bills
Ratepayers will be saddled with the cost to clean up a massive coal ash slide at an East Tennessee power plant, the agency's chairman said. The tab, likely to be tens of millions of dollars or more, will include the cost of extra workers, overtime pay, heavy machinery, and housing and supplies for families chased from their homes, along with the lawsuits that have begun to pile up. "This is going to get into rates sooner or later," Chairman Bill Sansom told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Heavy metals found in coal can concentrate in the ash when it's burned, and even more ash is created as pollution controls are tightened on power plants. "This issue has been a sleeper," said Jeff Stant, with the Environmental Integrity Project. "It's not a glamorous issue. It's been dumped where people are poor or aren't members of environmental groups."

Coal Energy Cons
Despite global trends to phase out coal use, supporters of a coal-based energy economy have repackaged their product as one that will carry the United States into the future. However, when all external costs and risks of using coal are uncovered, coal stands out as one of the least viable options for America’s energy future. For the future of our economy, our environment and our health, our nation must invest in alternatives to coal. The associated health effects and costs of burning coal are not included in the cost of electricity. ...asthma rates among children are abnormally high. The cause is clear. The heavy amounts of particulate matter including mercury produced at coal burning plants and emitted from the smoke stacks are directly linked to this growing health problem.

About Pet Coke as a Fuel for Power Plants In Michigan
As Rogers City plant faces final hearing, Buckeyes warn against dirtier fuel. Eight years after a utility began burning petroleum coke in addition to coal at its 620 MW power plant here, many local residents say that use of the new fuel has turned the plant into a dirty, dusty, noisy nuisance that they wish had never been built in their community. The addition of petroleum coke—something that at least one proposed coal plant in Michigan also would use—occurred in 2000, when the utility, FirstEnergy Corp., began operating a new boiler capable of burning the material. Many local residents interviewed last month by the Great Lakes Bulletin News Service said that they noticed the change almost immediately, and that it is harming their neighborhood.

Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps Lack Regulation
The coal ash pond that ruptured and sent a billion gallons of toxic sludge across 300 acres of East Tennessee last month was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States — most of them unregulated and unmonitored — that contain billions more gallons of fly ash and other byproducts of burning coal. In fact, coal ash is used throughout the country for construction fill, mine reclamation and other uses. In 2007, according to a coal industry estimate, 50 tons of fly ash even went to agricultural uses, like improving soil’s ability to hold water, despite a 1999 E.P.A. warning about high levels of arsenic. The amount of coal ash has ballooned in part because of increased demand for electricity, but more because "Clean Coal" air pollution controls have improved. Contaminants and waste products that once spewed through the coal plants’ smokestacks are increasingly captured in the form of solid waste [this is "Clean Coal" technology ... the redistribution of toxic waste out of the smoke stack, and into, or onto, the ground and water across America], held in huge piles in 46 states, on the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Numerous studies have shown that the ash [from "Clean Coal" technology] can leach toxic substances that can cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems in humans, and can decimate fish, bird and frog populations in and around ash dumps, causing developmental problems like tadpoles born without teeth, or fish with severe spinal deformities. Just last week, a judge approved a $54 million class-action settlement against Constellation Power Generation after it had dumped coal ash for more than a decade in a sand and gravel pit [as proposed for the Rogers City coal fueled power plant in Michigan] near Gambrills, Md., about 20 miles south of Baltimore, contaminating wells.

The people of Harriman need health screening due to exposure to heavy metals present in Coal Sludge
Everyone--apparently there is a window on heavy metal and arsenic screening for people. At the community meeting we had last night we had a Ph.d from Penn talk about this window. A Nashville Chemist who was there immediately offered to help set up immediate screening for the residents of swan pond and others in the effected area. Its going to cost about $700 per person. TVA should pay for this test--they should be DOING these test--but they are not--so we are trying to organize it. This will be a hair follicle, nails -- the full test. it is really important that you participate in this examination as it will set baselines for some of our toxic exposuresthese past 7 days. UMD is a scrappy non profit that resist strip mining in the Appalachians--we are way out of our budget on this. [Editor: Personally, as this is a federally owned power plant, I would favor spending some of the "bailout" money to fund the citizen relief effort, including health screening for the residents. I would not give one dime to TVA for operations or cleanup however.] CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE TEST

Governor appears poised to end Coal Emissions in Michigan
On Tuesday, officers from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will hear citizens from around the state explain why they oppose or support building a new, coal-fired power plant near Rogers City. The opponents will point to pollution and soaring plant construction and fuel prices and urge the state to take a new, cleaner, and safer approach to generating electricity. Senior Granholm administration officials declined to be specific about what they said would be a “major statement,” but indicated the governor might support a moratorium on approving new coal plants while the state formulates CO2 regulations—something coal opponents around the state have pushed for with lawsuits, petitions to the governor, and a steady barrage of press and grassroots events for more than a year. The governor might announce an outright ban on new coal plants. The governor’s advisors, who declined to be quoted on the record, confirmed that revised state forecasts of diminishing electricity demand and increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy offset the need for new coal-fired plants.

Data from first round of ash / sludge / water testing
December 27, 2008—Concentrations of eight toxic chemicals range from twice to 300 times higher than drinking water limits, according to scientists with Appalachian State University who conducted the tests. “Although these results are preliminary, we want to release them because of the public health concern and because we believe the TVA and EPA aren’t being candid,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chair of the Waterkeeper Alliance. READ REPORT

Arsenic samples from the Kingston plant’s water intake canal are close to 300 times the allowable limit
Appalachian Voices is reporting that levels of arsenic from the Kingston plant’s water intake canal are close to 300 times the allowable limit in drinking water. Two miles downstream, arsenic is 30 times the allowable level. In total, eight toxic chemicals were detected at excessive levels, the tests conducted at Appalachian State University have shown. “I have never seen levels of arsenic, lead and copper this high in natural waters,” Carol Babyak, an Appalachian state assistant professor of chemistry who helped conduct the tests, is quoted as saying in the Appalachian Voices article. These results are in stark contrast to what the Tennessee Valley Authority is reporting, raising serious doubts about the TVA’s truthfulness. The toxic heavy metals found in the water, which in addition to arsenic include barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and thallium, pose a risk not only to human health but also to aquatic life as well.

EPA implies coal-ash-tainted water safe to “drink occasionally
KINGSTON — Sunday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that “very high” levels of arsenic were found in a water sample collected from the affected area and that several heavy metals have also been found in quantities “slightly above drinking water standards.” The massive spill of water and ash -- [the ever increasing volume of sludge now up to] 1.1 billion gallons -- from a retention pond for the TVA Kingston steam plant on Dec. 22 has frightened many Roane County residents, some of whom have been left homeless by the wall of water while others are left to fret about the possible future impacts on their health. The safety of the community’s drinking water has been a major concern, especially in the face of confusing and what appear to be inconsistent statements given by different government agencies Officials also said that residents who draw their water from wells or springs in the affected area should avoid using their water for drinking, washing or cooking. [Editor: I guess somebody forgot to tell the coal executives that clean fresh Water is necessary for LIFE. It's not an option that we choose to drink "occasionally."]

What Is Worse Than Coal in Your Stocking? Coal Toxins in Your Drinking Water
The massive coal ash spill like we saw yesterday in Tennessee is extremely dangerous with long lasting consequences. You're talking about hundreds of acres of toxic sludge, the residue plants create by burning coal to produce energy, which includes mercury, arsenic and lead, spilling into the tributaries of the Tennessee River, poisoning the water supply for multiple communities, including Chattanooga. And it's a direct result of our continued reliance on an industry that makes us sick but uses slick PR terms like "clean coal," happily parroted by politicians of both parties, to maintain viability. “This spill shows that coal can never be ‘clean,’” said Kate Smolski, Senior Legislative Coordinator for Greenpeace. “If the Exxon Valdez was a symbol of pollution 20 years ago, the Tennessee Coal Spill of 2008 is the symbol of it today.” Incredibly, this spill occurs at a time when the Bush Administration is trying to loosen environmental rules that would allow the coal industry to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining into nearby streams. In other words, they want to make a disaster like this the norm. Environmental groups are suing to stop them, but what will stop the coal companies from their inattention to basic safety? It is time to take a critical look at companies whose very existence threatens public health and the future of a sustainable planet. And making sure that existence doesn't continue.

Clean Coal Public Relations Spin Unravels
It looks like TVA's attempts to contain the public relations damage by downplaying the magnitude of Tueday's environmental disaster in East Tennessee are failing. It's hard to hide from more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge that is destroying everything in its path. [Editor: Just wait until consumers see their more costly utility rates that will help to pay for this toxic sludge disaster. I wonder how TVA will spin that one?]

Burning Coal: The Risks They Don't Want You to Know About
While EPA has not yet formally released the revised assessment, environmental groups received a summary of the draft, which indicates that the cancer risk for adults and children drinking groundwater contaminated with arsenic from coal combustion waste dumps can be as high as 1 in 100 -- 10,000 times higher than EPA's regulatory goals for reducing cancer risks. The report also finds that coal ash disposal sites release toxic chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead, boron, selenium, cadmium, thallium, and other pollutants at levels that pose risks to human health and the environment. The National Academies of Science (NAS) found in a March 2006 report studying the practice by utilities of dumping coal combustion wastes in coal mines that high contaminant levels in leachate, or runoff, from coal ash dumps has contaminated drinking water and caused considerable environmental damage, including the local extinction of multiple species. READ EPA REPORT

Can America Clean Up from Its Worst Environmental Disaster?
January 5, 2009. With the breaking of a coal waste dam in Tennessee, environmental and human health is threatened by millions of pounds of toxic chemicals. On December 26, 2008, the Roane County Codes Enforcement Office condemned three homes along Swan Pond Circle Road in Harriman, Tennessee, four days after 5.4 million cubic yards, more than 1 billion gallons, of coal combustion waste (CCW) slurry surged, "like a tsunami" according to residents, into the confluence of the Emory and Clinch Rivers after breaking a 40-acre holding pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Kingston coal-fired power plant. This environmental disaster may be the worst in the country's history and the threats to health and the environment are severe, as the residents are beginning to learn. Clean up crews expressed their shock at the size and scope of the accident. "I ain't seen anything like this ever before," said one worker, who asked not to be identified by name because "TVA told us not to say anything. Fifteen years ago there was a tornado here -- it was nothing compared to this," he explained. As reported in the New York Times, December 30, TVA finally revealed an inventory of the Kingston Fossil Plant waste generation in detail : "In just one year, the plant's byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems. And the holding pond ... contained many decades' worth of these deposits."

TVA Restricting Media Access to Affected Area
Upon meeting the first road block we were ushered into the Media Corral and informed that all roads were closed to anyone who was not a resident or related to a resident, especially media. We were informed that a lieutenant would be by shortly to give us more information. As United Mountain Defense and Independent Media volunteers took video of the roadblock we were informed that we were interfering with the officer's work by distracting him and needed to move back to the Media Corral. ... The back entrance to the TVA's coal ash spill provided more panoramic shots of oozing sludge. By the time that we reached the next road block the TVA employee pulled up next to our vehicle and informed the Kingston Police officer that we had obstructed traffic and trespassed on TVA property and we needed to be arrested. We were informed to pull over and wait to be arrested for taking photographs. Fortunately we pulled right next to a local news crew that was filming the increased police pressure on local residents and the effects this pressure was having on residents that had been through this TVA disaster. As the United Mountain Defense volunteers sat waiting for our citations we were documenting the whole event. We observed many local coal impacted residents being forced to justify who they were and where they lived before being allowed to enter their homes. This treatment of local residents adds a heavy burden to a serious situation. A number of residents feel that they are being treated as criminals when TVA has actually committed the crime of polluting the water, air, and land of Tennessee. After more than an hour of being detained by a Kingston Police officer we were ordered to leave the area and not return without being arrested. TVA officers proceeded to gather the United Mountain Defense volunteer’s personal information and everybody’s pictures as if we were some major suspects of some kind. They did scare some of us, and I must say I was a little uncomfortable about the whole thing.

“Clean Coal” Myth Shattered
December 25, 2008—The New York Times reports today that the coal sludge that surged out of a breached Tennessee Valley Authority impoundment in Roane County was actually [at least] three times larger than previously estimated. The updated total is 5.4 million cubic yards, “or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep,” [a billion gallons of sludge]  Times reporter Shaila Dewan reports.  Evidence has been gathering for years that coal power plant waste poses a very serious risk to human health and the environment. According to a report from the National Research Council, coal fired plants produce 129 million tons of combustion residues every year — enough to fill more than one million railroad coal cars. That’s the second largest waste stream in the United States after municipal solid waste. All that material, consisting of  fly ash, bottom ash (a dry, coarse material from the bottom of the furnace), boiler slag (molten material from the furnace that’s quenched in water), and residues from air pollution control technologies, must be disposed of somehow. The two most common methods are to dump it in a landfill or pile it in a surface impoundment. The waste stored in these coal power plant dumps contain a host of toxic substances, including arsenic (cancer of the bladder, kidneys, liver, lungs, prostate, and skin); boron (harm to male reproductive organs; birth defects); cadmium (kidney damage); chromium (stomach ulcers, kidney and liver damage, increased risk of cancer); and lead (changes in brain and nervous system; learning problems and poor coordination in children). While it’s true that all of these elements occur naturally in rocks and soils, burning of coal causes them to become concentrated in the combustion residues. And a 2007 draft report from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that lagoons and landfills filled with coal combustion waste may present a cancer risk that is 10,000 times greater than federal rules allow. For people drinking groundwater contaminated with arsenic leaking from coal waste impoundments, the risk of contracting cancer could be as a high as one in 100. Federal regulations set a limit of one in 100,000 to one in a million. (For more information, see: “Activists say EPA ignoring theat from coal ash,” by Don Hopey in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.) READ EPA REPORT

No Such Thing as "Clean Coal"
The Tennessee Valley Authority, better known as TVA, has a coal-burning power plant located near Harriman, Tennessee, along Interstate 40 between Knoxville and Nashville. On Monday, December 22 around 1:00 a.m. residences living near the Kingston coal plant were flooded with 500 million [more than a billion] gallons of nasty black coal waste. It covered 400 acres of land up to 6 feet and flooded into tributaries of the Tennessee River - the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. The members of this community are without clean water and many without electricity or gas heat. We met people who were given motel rooms by TVA and others on the same street that have been without heat for days in 27° weather and others who have been vomiting for more than 12 hours after drinking the water. We visited approximately 40 households and many people were frustrated they had not received any information other than what they could figure out from the minute long television segments or an isolated phone call from the water or gas utility. [OBSERVE: power plant smoke stacks in background for reference.]

Coal Ash Spill Revives Issue of Coal Hazards
Federal studies have long shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. But with no official word on the dangers of the sludge in Tennessee, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property, and wondering what to do. Similar ponds and mounds of ash exist at hundreds of coal plants around the nation. A draft report last year by the federal Environmental Protection Agency found that fly ash, a byproduct of the burning of coal to produce electricity, does contain significant amounts of carcinogens and retains the heavy metal present in coal in far higher concentrations. The report found that the concentrations of arsenic to which people might be exposed through drinking water contaminated by fly ash could increase cancer risks several hundredfold. In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed stricter federal controls of coal ash, but backed away in the face of fierce opposition from utilities and the coal industry. At the time, the Edison Electric Institute, an association of power utilities, estimated that the industry would have to spend up to $5 billion in additional cleanup costs if the substance were declared hazardous. Stephen A. Smith, the executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said it was “mind-boggling” that officials had not warned nearby residents of the dangers. Environmentalists pointed to the accident as proof of their long-held assertion that there is no such thing as “clean coal.” As coal plants have gotten better at controlling air pollution, the toxic substances that would have been spewed into the air have been shifted to solid byproducts like fly ash, and the production of such postcombustion waste, as it is called, has increased sharply. United States coal plants produce 129 million tons of postcombustion byproducts a year, the second-largest waste stream in the country, after municipal solid waste. That is enough to fill more than a million railroad coal cars, according to the National Research Council. READ EPA REPORT

The Environmental Protection Agency does NOT regulate fly ash as a hazardous waste material... said Laura Nilles, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Coal Ash May Pose Health Hazard
December 26, 2008 · As cleanup continues on the giant sludge spill from a Tennessee coal plant, government officials are trying to figure out how much of a disaster it is. It could pose a hazard to people and the environment. [FACT: The risk of getting cancer from coal ash lagoons is 10,000 times greater than government safety standards allow, according to a draft report from the Environmental Protection Agency.] READ EPA REPORT

A tale of two disasters
A big question mark hangs over the hundreds of coal plants all across the country which store their fly ash in unlined embankments and ponds -- like the one that failed last week. Most are situated near riversand lakes that supply water needed by the coal plants to operate. The NY Times reported that in the US, coal plants produce 129 million tons of postcombustion byproducts a year. It's the second-largest waste stream in the country, after municipal solid waste, and its storage and handling is unregulated. Who knew? It is yet another measure of the high price of addiction to fossil fuels, which is not only polluting the air and warming the earth, but fouling the nation's terrestrial and aquatic environment as well. The Tennessee coal spill is a wake up call not only for the coal industry, but the oil industry as well. For instance in n Alberta [Canada], visible from outer space, are 23 squares miles of unstable, unregulated and leaking man-made "tailings ponds" holding the toxic leavings of the mining process. A dam breach is only a matter of time.

TVA Coal Power Plant is Killing Tennessese
"I live in Rockwood, TN, on Watts Bar Lake...probably 10 miles downstream from the ash spill. When I arrived home this afternoon, I snapped some photos of the cove I live on and attached them. Approximately 5 miles further downstream toward Rockwood is the Rockwood Water Treatment Plant where the entire area gets their drinking water."

The TVA coal ash numbers are off the chart and climbing
TVA completely underestimated the size of the spill, they are now saying 5.3 million cubic yards, thats 200 gallons per cubic yard so this is over 1 billion gallons in size. Apparently the stuff was stacked over 50 feet high - as high as a 5 story building. If a dump truck can hold 10 cubic yards, it will take 500,000 trips to haul away all the ash (they are taking it back to the power plant). If they make one trip every 5 minutes, it will thus take 2.5 million minutes to clean up the spill - there are 525,000 minutes in a year so that means it would take 4.7 years to clean up the spill at these estimated rates.

What the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Pollution Control has to say: View Permit PDF
TVA - Kingston Fossil Plant is authorized to discharge: fly ash and bottom ash sluice water, storm water runoff, fire protection flushes and groundwater, coal yard runoff pond discharges including utility building drainage, coal pile and coal conveyor drainage, red water wetlands discharges, precipitator area washdown and roof drains, station sump discharges including boiler leakage, laboratory and analytical process water, boiler blowdown, miscellaneous equipment cooling and lubricating water, floor washing wastes, air conditioning cooling water, ID fan cooling water, ash system leakage and boiler bottom overflow, water treatment plant wastes, ammonia storage runoff, treated chemical and nonchemical metal cleaning wastes from Internal Monitoring Point 005 and nonchemical metal cleaning wastes from Outfall 001; once through condenser cooling water, storm water runoff, groundwater, raw water leakage and fire protection flushes, intake screen backwash, and boiler blowdown, from Outfall 002; storm water runoff, fire protection flushes, raw water leakage and noncontact cooling water from Outfall 006; storm water runoff and abandoned ash pond seepage from Outfall 007; drainage from sluice line trench from Outfall 008 [Editor: Isn't it about time that we as humans began living on this planet as if this were the only planet available to us. These egregious acts against creation have got to be stopped.]

Sludge Spill Volume Continue to Climb to at Least a Billion Gallons
Estimates for the amount of thick sludge that gushed from a Tennessee coal plant this week have tripled to more than a billion gallons, as cleanup crews try to remove the goop from homes and railroads and halt its oozing into an adjacent river. TVA officials originally said the cleanup would take four to six weeks. Now they say they aren't sure. TVA officials originally said the cleanup would take four to six weeks. Now they say they aren't sure. The sludge, a byproduct of the ash from coal combustion, was contained at a retention site at the Tennessee Valley Authority's power plant in Kingston, about 40 miles east of Knoxville. The retention wall breached early Monday, sending the sludge downhill and damaging 15 homes. All the residents were evacuated, and three homes were deemed uninhabitable, according to the TVA. Critics say that the spill underscores the need for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the containment of coal ash. Appalachian environmentalists compare the mess to another spill eight years ago in eastern Kentucky, where the bottom of a coal sludge impoundment owned by Massey Energy broke into an abandoned underground mine, oozing more than 300 million gallons of coal waste into tributaries. The water supply for more than 25,000 residents was contaminated, and aquatic life in the area perished.

TVA triples estimate of Tennessee ash deluge
TVA officials say the coal slurry spill from a burst dam was three times as large as initially estimated. ... [in reality it is probably even worse thant this... TVA is owned/operated by the government. Don't ask. Don't tell.] "Clean Coal" is a lie; an advertising slogan that has not basis in reality.

Utility doubles estimate of Tennessee ash deluge
A burst dike at a coal-fired power plant in eastern Tennessee spilled twice as much ash as originally estimated, and at least one resident fears the muck coating his neighborhood is endangering the area's drinking water.

39 Groups Call On Obama To Stop Millions Of Tons Of Hazardous Coal Mine Waste Pollution
Fearing even more pollution of precious water supplies with toxic chemicals under a pending Office of Surface Mining (OSM) rule proposal, 39 environmental and grassroots groups are urging President-Elect Barack Obama to protect Americans by imposing meaningful federal regulation of coal combustion waste (CCW). Coal-fired power plants produce approximately 129 million tons of waste per year, making CCW the second largest industrial waste source in the US. CCW contains numerous hazardous chemicals including arsenic, selenium, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, boron, thallium, and molybdenum. When coal ash comes in contact with water, hazardous constituents leach out of the waste and contaminate groundwater and surface water. Coal ash has poisoned surface water and groundwater supplies in at least 23 states. It is estimated that at least 25 million tons of CCW are dumped in coal mines each year. In August 2007, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft risk assessment that found extremely high risks to human health and the environment from the disposal of coal ash in waste ponds and landfills.

December 22, 2008 Coal Ash Spill, Coal can never be clean. It's not possible! - Now imagine clean safe energy from the wind and the sun!

This is Todays Clean Coal!
This spill is over 48 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska! This is the kind of scary thing that people living with coal worry about every day. It's this sort of thing that really makes the proposition of clean coal so absurd. Even if you can scrub all the CO2 out of it, you still have so many other toxic waste products associated with burning coal that have to be stored that carbon emissions are just a part of the problem. How many other holding ponds are out there waiting to burst? This is part of the mountain of stuff that is left over after TVA burns their coal is called coal ash. Coal ash contains mercury and dangerous heavy metals like lead and arsenic - materials found naturally in coal are concentrated in the ash. TVA has a huge mountain of this coal waste material stored in a gigantic pile next to their Harriman (Kingston) power plant, alongside a tributary of the Tennessee River. On Monday morning Dec. 22 around 1:00 am, the earthen retaining wall around this mountain of coal ash failed and approximately 500 million [more than one-billion] gallons of nasty black coal ash flowed into tributaries of the Tennessee River - the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. "The really sad thing about this spill is that it's only a small example of the damage coal causes," Smolski added. "Add in global warming, tens of thousands of annual premature deaths from power plant pollution, and hundreds of mountains leveled across Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia, and that's the real picture of coal." "If we're going to prevent disasters like this, we've got to complete the switch to truly clean energy like wind and solar power as rapidly as possible," Smolski said. "We can't afford more coal disasters and more dangerous global warming impacts."(UPDATE 26-December: Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal, contains toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium that can cause cancer and neurological problems. Authority officials initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond breached, but on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep.) MORE COVERAGE | PHOTOS

"Clean Coal" Ash Disaster
A major environmental disaster occurred yesterday, but few news outlets outside Tennessee appear to be covering it: 2.6 million cubic yards (about 525 million gallons) of fly ash sludge poured out from behind an earthen embankment at the Kingston coal plant (source: The Tennessean). S&R’s Wendy Redal blogged about the October, 2000 Massey Energy coal slurry flood earlier this month - this ashslide is bigger, and while it’s more solid, it still covers 400 acres in up to 6 feet of toxic coal ash. To put this into scale with the Exxon Valdez spill, this coal ash release is presently estimated to be 48 times larger (in volume) and as dangerous. The release is on a tributary of the Tennessee River, which provides water to millions of people in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky before joining up with the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. MORE COVERAGE

Clean Coal Night? An ashy conundrum!
The Clean Coal fantasy has a myriad of angles to consider. Whether we're discussing mercury and tuna (and limitations on feeding children canned tuna fish), CO2 emissions and global warming, the atrocity of mountain-top removal, the diesel burnt in moving coal from mine to electricity plant, black lung disease, the poverty of mining regions, and so many other issues, the advertising of "clean coal" has so many disparate falsehoods that it is hard to keep track of which dishonesty is on the top of the pile at any given moment. Christmas Eve events in Tennessee remind us of another element of reality, the remnants after the burning, that pesky little out-of-sight, out-of-mind "fly ash" building up massively around the globe as the burning of coal continues to mount. While fly ash continues a myriad of pollutants (mercury, uranium, etc), it actually gets dirtier along with efforts to clean smokestack emissions. The better the filtering of the smokestack, the more dangerous materials residing in the fly ash. READ EPA REPORT

Is the national media ignoring the coal ash disaster?
In Harriman, Tenn., residents have been forced from their homes, dead fish are strewn about and a landscape is permanently changed. The extent of the environmental damage from millions of gallons of coal ash—a substance that can contain mercury, arsenic and lead—won’t be known for weeks, but some believe this will go down in history as a major environmental disaster. The Tennessee Valley Authority retention pond broke Monday, but the sludge story has barely seeped into the national media two days later. A column featured today on Poynter.org, the news and conversation site of non-profit journalism school The Poynter Institute, points out that social media tool “Twitter is bridging the gap between local and national (media) on this story.” Click here to read the entire story.

Fossil Fuel Combustion Waste
Fossil fuel combustion (FFC) wastes are the wastes produced from the burning of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, oil, natural gas). This includes all ash, slag, and particulates removed from flue gas. FFC wastes are categorized by EPA as a "special waste" and have been exempted from federal hazardous waste regulations under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).In two separate regulatory determinations, EPA determined that neither large-volume wastes, nor the remaining FFC wastes, warrant regulation as a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of RCRA and therefore remain excluded under 40 CFR §261.4(b)(4). EPA did determine, however, that coal combustion wastes (CCWs) that are disposed in landfills and surface impoundments should be regulated under Subtitle D of RCRA (i.e., the solid waste regulations), whereas CCW used to fill surface or underground mines (minefill) should be regulated under authority of Subtitle D of RCRA, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), or a combination of these authorities. This Web page provides an outline of the legislative and regulatory history and current status of the FFC waste exemption. Links to key regulatory and technical documents are also provided.

Coal Ash More Radioactive the Nuclear Waste (as typically stored)
Over the past few decades, however, a series of studies has called these stereotypes into question. Among the surprising conclusions: the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, fly ash—a by-product from burning coal for power—contains up to 100 times more radiation than nuclear waste. J. P. McBride at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and his colleagues looked at the uranium and thorium content of fly ash from coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and Alabama. To answer the question of just how harmful leaching could be, the scientists estimated radiation exposure around the coal plants and compared it with exposure levels around boiling-water reactor and pressurized-water nuclear power plants. The result: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities.

Bush's Final F*ck You
George Bush is rushing to implement a sweeping array of "midnight regulations" — de facto laws issued by the executive branch — designed to lock in Bush's legacy. Under the last- minute rules, which can be extremely difficult to overturn, loaded firearms would be allowed in national parks, uranium mining would be permitted near the Grand Canyon and many injured consumers would no longer be able to sue negligent manufacturers in state courts. "It's what we've seen for Bush's whole tenure, only accelerated," says Gary Bass, executive director of the nonpartisan group OMB Watch. "They're using regulation to cement their deregulatory mind-set, which puts corporate interests above public interests." In early December, the administration finalized a rule that allows the industry to dump waste from mountaintop mining into neighboring streams and valleys, a practice opposed by the governors of both Tennessee and Kentucky. "This makes it legal to use the most harmful coal-mining technology available," says Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. A separate rule also relaxes air-pollution standards near national parks, allowing Big Coal to build plants next to some of America's most spectacular vistas — even though nine of 10 EPA regional administrators dissented from the rule or criticized it in writing. "They're willing to sacrifice the laws that protect our national parks in order to build as many new coal plants as possible," says Mark Wenzler, director of clean-air programs for the National Parks Conservation Association. "This is the last gasp of Bush and Cheney's disastrous policy, and they've proven there's no line they won't cross."

We Need a Global Carbon Tax
The cap-and-trade approach won't stop global warming. If President Barack Obama wants to stop the descent toward dangerous global climate change, and avoid the trade anarchy that current approaches to this problem will invite, he should take Al Gore's proposal for a carbon tax and make it global. A tax on CO2 emissions -- not a cap-and-trade system -- offers the best prospect of meaningfully engaging China and the U.S., while avoiding the prospect of unhinged environmental protectionism.

Dynegy CEOs named amoung "Corporate Scrooges" of the year by Co-op America
The dishonor is particularly pointed in this year of economic horrors, government bailouts and huge layoffs. Co-op America, a green economy group,announced the "awards." "These CEOs represent the worst of the worst when it comes to corporate insensitivity, avarice and callousness," said Victoria Kreha of Co-op America. "They need to be held accountable for their actions, which, in some cases, have inflicted appalling harm on consumers and our environment." Dynegy CEO Bruce Williamson: Cited for his company's plans to build six new coal-fired power plants, a move that could increase carbon-dioxide emissions. Co-op America, founded in 1982, provides advice to businesses on social and environmental issues.

Coal Industry Hands Out Pink Slips While Green Collar Jobs Take Off
Washington, D.C.-A transition to renewable energy sources promises significant global job gains at a time when the coal industry has been hemorrhaging jobs for years, according to the latest Vital Signs Update released by the Worldwatch Institute. The coal, oil, and natural gas industries require steadily fewer jobs as high-cost production equipment takes the place of human capital. Many hundreds of thousands of coal mining jobs have been shed in China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and South Africa during the last two decades, sometimes in the face of expanding production. In the United States alone, coal industry employment has fallen by half in the last 20 years, despite a one-third increase in production. "Renewables are poised to tackle our energy crisis and create millions of new jobs worldwide," according to Worldwatch Senior Researcher Michael Renner. "Meanwhile, fossil fuel jobs are increasingly becoming fossils themselves, as coal mining communities and others worry about their livelihoods."

Michigan Energy Alternatives Project: Year End Report PDF
As I started preparing this report, my inbox was flooded with news of yet another coal-related tragedy. In an area of the country most devastated by the coal mining industry, Appalachia, news comes that the earthen walls of a giant holding pond for coal combustion waste was breached and a wave of toxic sludge rushed down into the Tennessee River near Harriman TN. A quick comparison showed that this toxic spill was 40 times larger than the Exxon Valdez in Alaska, or about a BILLION gallons. News footage showed the immediate effects of the disaster with the Tennessee River running gray with coal ash and dead fish lining the banks, not to mention the devastated community. This will require months or years in clean up, and the land will be altered forever as heavy metals seep through the aquifer. Happy Holidays. From Coal.

Big Blow Against Coal: Court Reinstates Clean Air Interstate Rule
In a major decision benefiting clean air and public health, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today issued an order that leaves the Clean Air Interstate Rule in effect while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency develops a new clean air program for power plants. "Today's court decision is a welcome gift for the millions of American's that face serious health threats from power plant pollution. Power plants across the East will reduce millions of tons of smog and soot pollution today while America's new leadership fixes the mistakes made by the Bush Administration," said Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel at Environmental Defense Fund.

Michigan must pull the plug on coal
For carbon dioxide-emitting coal plants, the writing is on the wall. Coal plants are the No. 1 culprit behind the current climate crisis that is threatening the Great Lakes, the health of Michigan citizens and Michigan jobs. The majority of Americans -- Republicans, Democrats and independents -- support clean, renewable energy and tougher standards for carbon dioxide so our families are protected from pollution and greenhouse gases. Job growth in renewable energy outpaces coal by a nearly 2-1 margin. At virtually every federal level, new court rulings and regulations now require coal plants to do more to curb CO2. Investment banks are pulling the plug on coal projects, and hundreds of them have been canceled. Coal is the past. Nobody wants to throw good money after bad coal. Except here in Michigan. Recently, a broad coalition of citizens groups, including the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, the Michigan Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council and many others, urged Gov. Jennifer Granholm to order the DEQ to protect the public from CO2 pollution and stop the permitting process for coal plants immediately. The DEQ is duty-bound not to provide permits until safeguards that protect public health and reduce greenhouse gases are in place. If the DEQ refuses to acknowledge this duty, then the governor should require it to do so.

Consider the Cost of Coal on Health
Holland, MI — From smog and soot to mercury and carbon dioxide, coal-fired power plants are one of the largest sources of dangerous air pollution in the United States. The consequences for human hearts and lungs are staggering. Yet plans are on the table to build dozens of new coal-fired power plants across the country, including an expansion here in Holland, increasing the health threats for both nearby communities and those downwind. Burning coal creates several different types of liquid and solid wastes that are known as coal combustion waste. The amount of coal combustion waste produced is more than 120 million tons every year. It’s enough to fill rail cars that would make a train 9,600 miles long. The clean coal technologies that have attracted the most attention are carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). CCS remains an unproven technology and IGCC emits just as much global warming pollution as coal plants. This brings us to the Holland Board of Public Works’ James De Young power plant. The estimated cost to replace the 11-megawatt boiler with a 78-megawatt boiler is $250 million. According to figures compiled by the Sierra Club from air permit applications, the additional pollution emitted would be: 478 tons of sulfur dioxide; 342 tons of nitrogen oxides; 8.4 pounds of mercury; 57 tons of particulate matter; and 499,000 to 624,000 tons of carbon dioxides. The health impacts would be devastating with increases in death, heart attacks, lung cancer, asthma and bronchitis attacks, plus lost work hours and school days.

Dynegy to rethink new coal-fired power project in Michigan
Power producer Dynegy Inc. is reevaluating its role in developing the new 750-MW Mid-Michigan coal plantpower plant, citing the high cost of capital and difficulty in permitting new coal-fired power plants, Williamson said the company wants to protect cash flow and avoid complex financial arrangements. "This is in light of rising barriers to entry, including the tightening credit markets." Houston-based Dynegy has come under fire from environmental groups for its development of a number of coal-fired power plants across the country. Coal plants emit more carbon dioxide than other fossil-fuel generators. CO2 is a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

Coal Plants: The Next Round of Subprime Loans
Banks like Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch Ratings are betting against the next President of the United States and making a new round of subprime loans. Coal plants cost billions of dollars to build, and this requires bank loans. In turn, those banks are expecting us to buy power from the utilities for decades, at a high enough price to cover operating costs and pay back the loans. Coal plants are also very dirty, spewing millions of tons of global warming pollution and toxic particles into the air. So far we have given companies a free pass, letting them emit as much carbon dioxide as they want. But with President-Elect Obama and Congress committed to strong action on global warming, the free pollution days are over. So if companies build new coal plants - 100 plants currently proposed at a cost of more than $250 billion - we will be paying higher electricity prices for more pollution. In short, we aren't going to need the power from new coal plants. Just like we didn't want gas-guzzling cars, we don't want pollution-spewing coal plants. Americans want energy-efficient technology. So when banks and utilities are suddenly without customers willing to buy coal power, expect banks and utilities to be next in line for bailouts. As energy demand drops further, companies that build risky new coal plants will only have two options - default on loans or raise energy prices even higher. Defaults on loans hurt the banking system and local communities. Higher prices hurt residential consumers and chase businesses away. We've seen this cycle before.

Pregnant women and children —stay away from coal power plants!
Among the first group of children, prenatal exposure to coal-burning emissions was associated with significantly lower average developmental scores and reduced motor development at age two. In the second unexposed group, these adverse effects were no longer observed; and the frequency of delayed motor developmental was significantly reduced. (h/t Climate Progress) An estimated 3-4% of the 4 million babies born in the U.S. every year suffer from some kind of neurodevelopmental disability, which have been associated with a wide range of toxic chemicals.

Duke Energy Gets Slammed on Coal Power Plant Mercury Emissions
Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is the self-appointed coal industry leader in the green game -- he even got a nice spread in the New York Times earlier this year on his big ideas for climate legislation. And yet even the greenest of coal groups, Duke Energy isn't even taking basic steps to control harmful emissions like toxic mercury, much less global-warming-causing carbon dioxide. This week a federal judge rejected Duke's attempts to build its new Cliffside coal-fired power plant in North Carolina without modern mercury and other pollution controls. Now Duke must submit this plan for a state process to review its mercury emissions.

Federal EPA Puts Brakes on MI Coal Plants
LANSING – Clean Energy Now today urged the State of Michigan to stop air permits for coal plants in Michigan following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruling that carbon dioxide pollution must be factored into the permitting process to protect public health, a move a move that should slam the brakes on Michigan's looming coal rush. By stopping all coal plant permits, Michigan can require the coal industry to fully address carbon dioxide pollution and ways to protect the economy and public health before more plants can be built. Michigan faces the construction of up to eight additional coal plants, more than any other state. "The decision means that the coal industry will now have to live up to its clean coal rhetoric in Michigan and across the nation," said Anne Woiwode, State Director of the Michigan Sierra Club. "By slamming the brakes on new coal plants until we protect against dangerous global warming pollution, we can build a 21st century energy economy, create good-paying jobs and move Michigan forward."

EPA ruling halts all new coal-fired power plants
In its waning days, the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has essentially halted all new construction of coal-fired power plants until the government can figure out what to do about climate-change-causing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In a ruling yesterday, the EPA decided that it could no longer grant permits for such new construction until it determines what is needed to limit CO2 emissions. The decision refers back to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that the EPA, has the authority to regulate emissions of CO2, the most ubiquitous greenhouse gas. In essence, permits cannot be granted until the agency figures out whether or not to force power plants to install technology to control such emissions.

Burning Coal Not Looking So Hot
The fate of scores of new coal-burning power plants is now in limbo over whether to regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The uncertainty resulted when an Environmental Protection Agency appeals panel on Thursday rejected a federal permit for a Utah plant, leaving the issue for the Obama administration to resolve. The panel said the EPA's Denver office failed to adequately support its decision to issue a permit for the Bonanza plant without requiring controls on carbon dioxide, the leading pollutant linked to global warming. "It's going to stop everything while EPA mulls over what to do next" about how the federal Clean Air Act is to be used to control carbon dioxide, said David Bookbinder, a Sierra Club lawyer. "And that will be decided by the next administration."

Mining Coal is Irresponsible
Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a last-minute rule change, long sought by the coal industry, to allow mining within 100 feet of rivers and streams. Environmentalists say this change will make it harder for them — and for President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration — to challenge a controversial form of coal mining called mountaintop removal. That's when coal companies chop off the tops of mountains, mine the coal underneath and dump the leftover rock and dirt into nearby valleys and streams. In a report published this year, the EPA's own scientists found runoff from such mines contained high levels of hazardous chemicals. But in an about-face Tuesday, the agency signed off on the Bush administration's proposal to allow dirt and rocks to be dumped into certain streams. "Our future is being taken from us by these mining companies. I understand there are jobs at stake, but there are ways to get coal out of the ground that don't devastate the environment the way mountaintop removal does." In the good news department, Bank of America announced this week that it would no longer finance mountaintop removal mining, adding to growing pressure on mining companies and on Obama to change how mining is done in Appalachia.

Peak Coal by 2025 say researchers
This is the second of a series of papers by the Energy Watch Group which are addressed to investigate future energy supply and demand patterns. The Energy Watch Group consists of independent scientists and experts who investigate sustainable concepts for global energy supply. This paper attempts to give a comprehensive view of global coal resources and past and current coal production based on a critical analysis of available statistics. This analysis is then used to provide an outlook on the possible coal production in the coming decades. The result of the analysis is that there is probably much less coal left to be burnt than most people think.

A Skeptic's Guide to the Coal Industry
You couldn't get through the presidential debate on many channels without seeing a commercial featuring an electric plug getting its juice from a lump of coal. The Sierra Club has helpfully put together a guide at coalisnottheanswer.org that challenges many of the assertions made in those coal industry ads, which the group says the industry spent $40 million to air. The Sierra Club claims coal is neither clean, nor cheap, nor abundant, nor a good liquid fuel replacement for oil, nor is it needed at all. Coal does power much of America's electric grid, but at increasing cost in dollars, and not without a heavy pollution toll. Emissions from coal plants are leading causes of smog, acid rain and the U.S. contribution to global warming. Promises of developing clean coal technology are still that — promises.

The Future of Coal
An interdisciplinary MIT faculty group examined the role of coal in a world where constraints on carbon dioxide emissions are adopted to mitigate global climate change. This follows "The Future of Nuclear Power" which focused on carbon dioxide emissions-free electricity generation from nuclear energy and was published in 2003. This report, the future of coal in a carbon-constrained world, evaluates the technologies and costs associated with the generation of electricity from coal along with those associated with the capture and sequestration of the carbon dioxide produced coal-based power generation. Growing electricity demand in the U.S. and in the world will require increases in all generation options (renewables, coal, and nuclear) in addition to increased efficiency and conservation in its use. Coal will continue to play a significant role in power generation and as such carbon dioxide management from it will become increasingly important. This study, addressed to government, industry and academic leaders, discusses the interrelated technical, economic, environmental and political challenges facing increased coal-based power generation while managing carbon dioxide emissions from this sector.

Curbing Coal Emissions Alone Might Avert Climate Danger, Say Researchers
The burning of fossil fuels accounts for about 80 percent of the rise of atmospheric CO2 since the pre-industrial era, to its current level of 385 parts per million. However, while there are huge amounts of coal left, predictions about when and how oil and gas production might start running out have proved controversial, and this has made it difficult to anticipate future emissions. To better understand how the emissions might change in the future, climatologist Pushker Kharecha and director James Hansen of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies—a member of Columbia University's Earth Institute--considered a wide range of scenarios. "This is the first paper that explicitly melds the two vital issues of global peak oil production and human-induced climate change," Kharecha said. "We found that because coal is much more plentiful than oil or gas, reducing coal emissions is absolutely essential to avoid dangerous climate change."

Union of Concerned Scientists Report on Coal PDF
If the United States continues burning coal the way it does today, it will be impossible to achieve the reductions in heat-trapping emissions needed to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. Coal-fired power plants represent the nation’s largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2, the main heat-trapping gas causing climate change), and coal plant emissions must be cut substantially if we are to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. Yet despite the urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions, the United States is poised to increase its emissions greatly—by building many more coal plants.

Painful Rise in Cost of Power
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. The increased price will cause considerable pain for many individuals. Finding the extra $10- $15 a month will be especially difficult for those living on fixed incomes, and others, who already are struggling to pay for rapid increases in food, gasoline and health care. Rising rates and increasing demand for their services mean their budgets — like those of consumers — are stretched to the breaking point. There is a rational explanation for the coming pain at the power meter, but that’s little comfort to those most vulnerable to the rising cost of the essentials of everyday life. The increase primarily is the result of soaring coal used to generate power. The price of coal has shot up from about $35 a metric ton just a couple of years ago to $135 per ton this summer. The global demand for coal, particularly in China, is driving up its cost.

More Coal Equals Fewer Jobs
Mountaintop removal is a mining technique designed, from the very start, to take the labor force out of the mining operation. What used to take hundreds of miners employed for decades, now takes a half dozen heavy equipment operators and blasting technicians a couple of years. According to the bureau of labor statistics, in the early 1950’s there were between 125,000 and 145,000 miners employed in West Virginia; in 2004 there were just over 16,000. During that time, coal production has increased. This decline in the workforce continues today. Draglines and other advances in technology resulted in a 29% decline in mining jobs during 1987 and 1997, while coal production rose 32 percent during the same period. Despite industry claims that mountaintop removal increases local tax revenues, counties that produce coal are devastated by poverty, school closings, and unemployment. McDowell County has produced more coal than any other county in West Virginia, and for many years in the nation, yet the median household income is $19,931 and 37.7% of residents live in poverty.

The True Availability of Coal
For western Kentucky, detailed estimates have been prepared for 14 quadrangles. These results also show that technological restrictions are the most important factor. In this region, a significant amount of one coal bed has been rendered unmineable because an underlying coal bed has been mined by underground methods. Several important coals have been extensively mined, and remaining coal is found at greater depths than has been mined in the past. Large areas of the Western Kentucky Coal Field contain alluvial valleys that may affect mineability of underlying coals. Although the valleys do not preclude mining, they add significantly to exploration and development costs.

The Air I breath is Not Your CO2 Dump
Much of corporate America now appears to be out in front of the Bush administration in facing up to global warming. Some big players like Pacific Gas and Electric and DuPont seem seriously committed to mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions — in sharp contrast to the administration's voluntary approach. Others, notably big investment banks, are still doing what comes naturally: seizing opportunities, whether or not those opportunities fit their green posturing. Today's Coal plants plants are still be using the same 9th century technology — burning coal, with no ability to dispose of immense amounts of carbon dioxide. That's distressing from a global warming perspective. There is a need to put a price on carbon to force companies to abandon dirtier technologies for newer, cleaner ones. Right now, everyone is using the atmosphere like a municipal dump. Start charging for the privilege, and people will find smarter ways to do business. A carbon tax is one approach. Another is to impose a steadily decreasing cap on emissions and let individual companies figure out ways to stay below the cap.

What is the This Clean Coal the Politicians Keep Talking About?
Coal and its byproducts are everywhere -- in plastics, tar, fertilizer, steel and as the energy source for major industries such as paper and cement. In the U.S., however, over 90% of coal is used for electricity generation, resulting in 83% of carbon dioxide emission from the power sector. Coal is burned in power plants to create steam, thereby powering turbines and generating both electricity and a diversity of harmful air pollutants. No matter how you look at it, there isn't much clean about coal. The extraction and burning of coal is considered the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, including oil and gas. So, what is this new, innovative and so-called "clean coal"? With goals of zero-emissions coal power plants, the U.S. has spent over $2.5 billion since 2001 in research and development for "clean coal technology." Unfortunately, none of the options on the table actually help coal--as a whole--become any cleaner.

Carbon Capture: Real, or Just Blowing Smoke?
GAYLORD—In Otsego County earlier this year, a drilling crew from Traverse City-based Core Energy punched two holes in the ground outside this county seat of 3,700 residents. As they bored down nearly 6,000 feet into layers of rock older than dinosaurs, the crew pushed Michigan closer to the center of one of the most important scientific and economic discussions of our time—whether by storing their plants’ greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) underground, utilities can continue to use coal to make electricity without wrecking the planet’s climate. To date, Michigan’s energy discussion has hardly touched on the “carbon capture” technology being tested here. Instead, it is focused on Michigan’s 20 existing coal plants—many among the country’s oldest and, collectively, the nation’s tenth-largest source of CO2 emissions—and whether the state should allow companies to build eight new ones, the most proposed for any state. The Michigan Legislature required utilities to use more renewable energy and increase energy efficiency, and to begin paying better rates to homes and businesses for power from self-installed solar panels and other renewable energy sources. The votes, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission and clean energy producers, reflect the fact that electricity from renewable sources is or soon will be cheaper than electricity generated from new coal-fired plants. The price of new coal plants has doubled in 18 months, according to several studies, and the price of coal itself has increased almost as sharply. But the wind and sun are free.

An average coal-fueled power plant converts a mere 33 percent of the fuel into energy. The rest is filthy waste.

Combined Heat and Power Plants Account for 12 Percent of Global Electricity Production
Just over 12 percent of global electricity production is provided by cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power (CHP), according to the latest Vital Signs Update. Denmark is the global leader, with CHP meeting 52 percent of its electricity needs, about four times the world average.

  • CHP systems can have efficiencies of 75-90 percent, a drastic improvement over the 33 percent found at an average coal-fired power plant
  • CHP could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 4 percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 2030
  • Natural gas accounts for 53 percent of world CHP capacity, with coal at 36 percent, renewable fuels at 6 percent, and oil at 5 percent

Michigan Land Use Institute Letter to the DEQ
Dear Ms. Dolehanty: I am writing on behalf of the staff, board, and 2,500 members of the Michigan Land Use Institute to oppose the draft air permit that your agency issued on Sept. 23 to the Wolverine Clean Energy Venture, a coal-fired power plant proposed for Roger City. The Institute opposes this project because of the harm it will do to local and regional air and water quality, as well as to prospects for reversing climate change.

Consumers Energy coal fired power plant are leaking toxics into Saginaw Bay
Two massive ash landfills that hold the concentrated residue of coal burned at a power plant in Bay County have been leaking toxics to the Saginaw Bay for years. The Lone Tree Council, a Bay City area environmental group, uncovered the issue while combing through state records on plans for a new 800-megawatt power plant at the Consumers Energy Karn-Weadock facility in Hampton Township. The group, along with the newly formed Citizens Exploring Clean Energy, is calling for the state Department of Environmental Quality to hold a public meeting to discuss the leakage and related issues with residents. State regulators acknowledge the landfills have been discharging toxics like arsenic, boron and lithium in excess of state standards meant to protect aquatic organisms, drinking water and public health. "We are supposed to be excited about an expanded coal-fired complex and we discover that the company has been historically negligent about its wastes," Lone Tree Chairman Terry Miller said in a news release to be issued today. "Here is one of the two largest utilities in the state showing an incredible level of irresponsibility. How many decades have seen arsenic leaching into the bay, the source of our drinking water?"

Upside Down Smokestacks: Why Carbon Capture and Storage is a Scam
We have no time to waste on dubious CSS technology if we are to avert the most drastic effects of global warming. The premise of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is that carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants can be captured before it enters the atmosphere and then stored underground in geological formations. The coal industry has been promoting the idea of “clean coal” through the usage of CCS technology as a solution for global warming despite the fact that its efficacy has yet to be proven on a large scale and even best-case scenarios don’t have CCS being in place for at least a couple decades. ". It is the ultimate coal industry pipe dream,” said the report’s author, Emily Rochon,. “Governments and businesses need to reduce their emissions—not search for excuses to keep burning coal.” CCS technology is woeful inadequacy on numerous points. CCS wastes energy, for one thing, as it uses between 10 and 40% of the plant’s power output just to function. It is also expensive, and could possibly double the cost of constructing a coal-fired power plant, which in turn could lead to the raising of electricity costs for consumers. And despite its exorbitant cost, there is actually no guarantee that storing carbon underground is totally safe or effective – even a very low leakage rate could completely undermine the benefits of CCS.

MICHIGAN CON JOB : Exposing MichiganJobsAndEnergy.org
Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information from a corporation or organization to the public. Often time lobby and other special interest groups will employ Public Relations firms to influence government policy, corporate policy, or public opinion. In public relations, “spin” is sometimes a pejorative term signifying a heavily biased portrayal in one's own favor of an event or situation. While traditional public relations may also rely on “creative” presentation of the facts, "spin" often implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics. The techniques of "spin" include selectively presenting facts and quotes that support one's position (cherry picking), the so-called "non-denial denial," phrasing in a way that assumes unproven truths, euphemisms for drawing attention away from items considered distasteful, and ambiguity in public statement (promising the world, but offering no details or substance). I believe this to be the situation with the new web site MichiganJobsAndEnergy.org

How Clean is Coal?
Coal is clean, dirty, good for the economy and bad for the environment. Those were the differing perspectives at an energy forum held Thursday evening at Delta College. More than 50 people packed a room at the college, many of them critical of plans to build two new coal-fired power plants in the area, one each in Bay County's Hampton Township and Midland. Dennis Marvin, communications director of new generation for Consumers Energy, showed up to argue the merits of his company's plans to construct a 930-megawatt plant, with 800 megawatts of net power. He was pitted against Lee Sprague of the Sierra Club environmental group early in the forum. The audience later heard from Steve Smiley of Heron Wind Manufacturing in Traverse City and Peter Sinclair, a climate change educator from Midland. "Coal plants, if you build them, they take up the market for renewable energy," Sprague said. Kyle Sieradzki, 20, of Caro, said he came thinking the new plant was a good idea, but left with the opposite opinion. "I don't favor it, because of all the negatives," said Sieradzki, who's studying to be a registered nurse. "It's just not good for the environment, for the people around here."

Say No to Coal and Climate Change
Major power companies and the current White House administration are telling Americans that coal is the future of affordable energy. But increased greenhouse gas emissions, dangerous coal mining, mercury pollution, increased asthma and human health problems, and dramatic groundwater waste are costs that no one can afford.

A Dirty Secret
Coal is a dirty fuel, regardless of whether it is burned, gasified, vaporized or turned to liquid. There is no such thing as "clean" coal. Sierra Club looks at the entire lifecycle of coal, from the environmentally destructive way it's mined to the carbon dioxide and pollutants that come out of the stack and coal combustion waste that pollutes are waterways and can create up to 160 semi-truck loads of toxic ash per day in our landfills. It takes only a trip to the Appalachia Mountains to see the destruction that mountaintop removal is inflicting upon one of our country's most spectacular mountain ranges and the terrible consequences our ravenous appetite for coal is having on Appalachian communities.

Proposed Coal Plant Switches Fuels, Stirs Controversy
When Wolverine Power Cooperative came to this small port city in 2006 and proposed building a 600 MW coal-fired power plant in the huge limestone quarry wedged between the town and Lake Huron, officials called their proposal the Wolverine Clean Energy Venture®. However, the commission issued the SUP over objections from three members who said that Wolverine had not adequately answered questions about the coal plant’s environmental impacts. Now, more than two years later, although the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a draft air emissions permit for the plant on Sept. 23, and announced a public comment period and public hearings on the matter at Rogers City High School on Oct 29 and 30, the vagueness of Wolverine’s county SUP application—and Presque Isle’s speedy approval of it—may be coming back to haunt the company. Placing a coal plant in the big quarry poses thorny storage and disposal challenges. Like much of Presque Isle County, the quarry has highly porous “karst” geology, and it is also located close to the city’s drinking water supply. That poses run-off problems for the plant’s large fuel piles and the boiler ash the company wants to bury—problems that pet coke would intensify.

Shilling and Drilling
It's amazing what the PR industry can do to divert an issue. While the truth that carbon emissions are going to alter our planet in unpleasant ways in the near future is more and more well established, somehow the topic has been changed from reducing the use of fossil fuels to "independence from foreign oil." So now, after a few-week push, Americans are ready to start drilling offshore and in Alaska. You've gotta hand it to the oil industry leaders: Only they could take multiple crises for which they are responsible and turn them into a win for their agenda. Never mind that it will take years to have what will ultimately be a negligible effect on the price of oil. Gas is expensive, and people are easy to fool, especially if you play to their moronic fears of all things foreign. Meanwhile, it turns out that American oil burns just as dirty as it does anywhere else, and no meaningful emissions regulation is on the horizon. [Editor: And speaking of foreign, you know, don't you that U.S. oil will be sold on the international market to the highest bidder. The oil drilled in the U.S. may not even help the energy crises at home in the least. It will help corporate profits fot the oil companies however. And that girls and boys is what this initiative is all about, increasing profits for oil companies.]

Coal Fueled Power Plants: Environmentally and Economically a Seriously Bad Idea!
When one of George Bush’s federal agencies says that the price of new coal-fired power is higher than the price of wind power, you know the coal industry is in trouble. A new slideshow by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which closely tracks energy prices, says that the costs of coal, of getting it from mine to power plant, and of the steel, cement, copper, and labor to build coal plants are rising rapidly and will continue to do so. Then the slides connect the dots: Given new coal’s ballooning costs and the unknown price of upcoming CO2 regulations, investing in new coal plants is increasingly risky. Wind power is now a better bet. Building coal and petroleum coke-burning power plants in Michigan is a very risky idea that will more than double local electric rates. Michigan is threatening to become the world leader in all kinds of dinosaur technologies. Right now, you’re leading in producing SUVs that no one wants to drive. “The track record of Michigan dealing with technologies of the future is weak. It’s sad to watch Toyota and Honda eating the lunch of GM and Ford, who weren’t thinking about the future. The same is true of these coal-fired power plants. This is 18th-century technology. “It’s very clear the real action…is going to be wind and solar.

McCain's Michigan melt-down madness
Leave it to John McCain to pick the site of a horrific atomic meltdown to symbolize his push for nuke power. McCain says he wants at least 45 more [hugely expensive and risky] US reactors as part of his "do everything" campaign for American energy independence. Apparently that strategy does not include inflating car tires, long known as one of the easiest, cheapest and most reliable ways to significantly improve auto gas mileage. McCain had only ridicule for Barack Obama's ideas to fight waste in our energy economy. Indeed, the term "efficiency" has no apparent place in the McBush lexicon. The "drill drill drill" mantra speaks only of production, a "supply side" Reaganomic approach to a problem whose fastest solution is to cut back on demand. As if turning off lights in empty rooms or making cars run cleaner is somehow an affront to American manhood, more production is the one and only idea in McCain's energy plan. Thus it was fitting he chose Monroe, Michigan for a nuke-powered energy push. The town's central square hosts a statue honoring General George Armstrong Custer, wiped out by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn in the summer of 1876. More important was the melt-down at Monroe's Fermi Unit I [nuclear power plant] on October 5, ninety years later.

Drilling Ourselves Deep in a Hole
At one point in his masterful People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn reflects upon the unspeakable carnage wrought by the Conquistadors in South and Central America, all in the pursuit of gold, and wonders at how those obscene riches sustained imperial greatness… for barely a hundred years. All that bloodletting, enslavement, massacres — genocide in places — for a temporary wealth that quickly vanished on the stage of history. It reminds me of our current oil craze: in one century we have plundered billions of years of stored hydrocarbons, and what do we have to show for it? Fleeting prosperity — one that is hardly shared by all — a highly volatile Middle East, and awesome ecological devastation that will require centuries of recovery. And now, as the age of oil finally signals its inevitable demise, our president and his allies in Washington announce that their grand response is … to drill for more oil. In his latest book, former World Bank director Joseph Stiglitz claims that the war in Iraq will end up costing three trillion dollars. Imagine if that amount had been dedicated to researching and sustaining the transition to renewable energies. A mere trillion dollars would have gone a long way towards remodeling American suburbia for lifestyle and transportation changes. Instead, we have sacrificed unimaginable funds (from future generations, Stiglitz tells us), and tens of thousands of lives (at least) for a resource that is soon to be economically irrelevant!

Welcome to the Next Epoch
For the "elements of a 'perfect storm,' a global cataclysm" being assembled, NASA's James Hansen placed special blame on the "CEOs of fossil energy companies [who] know what they are doing and are aware of [the] long-term consequences of continued business as usual." He added that they should, in his opinion, "be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature… I anticipate testifying against relevant CEOs in future public trials." That's a novel thought in our nation's capital. Oh, and while he was at it, he probably should have thrown in George W., Dick C., and crew. What they haven't done (and what they've blocked from being done) over these last eight years may turn out to be their greatest crime of all. Talk about smoking guns... Higher energy prices are opening the Pandora's box of the crudest of crude oil production from Canadian tar sands and Venezuelan heavy oil. As one British scientist has warned, the very last thing we should wish for (under the false slogan of "energy independence") is new frontiers in hydrocarbon production that advance "humankind's ability to accelerate global warming" and slow the urgent transition to "non-carbon or closed-carbon energy cycles."

Michigan Misses Yet Again: Other States Cash In on Green Economy
As Lansing hesitates, Michigan misses out. According to lawmakers, wind energy developers, and economic development specialists in and outside the state, Michigan has been very slow to recognize the same market opportunities. So the state is steadily falling behind in the race for the tens of billions of clean energy investment dollars, and the hundreds of thousands of family-supporting jobs that the clean energy economy is starting to produce nationwide.

Coal at Any Cost?
My intuition tells me that we really don't have anywhere near the number of people or businesses in Michigan that would justify the energy plan proposed by coal executives and the Michigan Senate Energy Policy and Public Utilities Sub-Committee, so I thought I'd take a look at some numbers myself. Here is what I have discovered so far.

How to Get Off Coal
Side benefits of phasing out coal emissions, for human health and the environment, are so great that it will be feasible to spread a no-dirty-coal energy strategy world-wide once it is started. The West must initiate the moratorium, because the West is responsible for most of the excess CO2 in the air today. We have the potential for an immediate moratorium, and the West has much to gain from early adoption and technology refinement.

Study unearths higher health risks in coal communities
People who live in counties where coal is mined are much more likely to suffer from an array of chronic, life-threatening health problems, according to a new study published in April's American Journal of Public Health. The study found that residents reported higher rates of cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes, and lung and kidney disease.

True or False:
The world has enough proven coal reserves to last for the next 100 years?

The answer is: FALSE Contrary to traditional beliefs the world may have less coal than previously thought. New data from the Energy Watch Group -- a coalition of scientists from around the world -- says that instead of the world having 100 years' worth of coal reserves, the reality is we only have about another 20 years' worth. It is now forecast that after a peak of 30% above current production levels, that coal production will plateau and then decline from 2025.

36% of US global warming emissions comes from approximately 501 coal-burning power plants - that's more than the emissions from 377 million cars.

Costs Mount in Quest for Clean Coal
For years, scientists have had a straightforward idea for taming global warming. They want to take the carbon dioxide that spews from coal-burning power plants and pump it back into the ground. In January, the government canceled its support for what was supposed to be a showcase project, a plant at a carefully chosen site in Illinois where there was coal, access to the power grid, and soil underfoot that backers said could hold the carbon dioxide for eons. Scientists say unless the situation can be turned around, will be a long-term disaster.

Coal Extraction/Production Threatens Ecosystem and Economy
Mountaintop removal is a form of coal mining in which companies dynamite the tops of mountains to collect the coal underneath. Multiple peaks are blown off and dumped onto highland watersheds, destroying entire mountain ranges. More than 1,000 miles of streams have been destroyed by this practice in West Virginia alone. Mountain top removal endangers and destroys entire communities with massive sediment dams and non-stop explosions. According to Fred Mooney, an active member of the Mountain Faction of Katuah Earth First!, “MTR is an ecocidal mining practice in which greedy coal companies use millions of pounds of dynamite a day (three million pounds a day in the southwest Virginia alone) to blow up entire mountain ranges in order to extract a small amount of coal.” He goes on to say that “Then as if that wasn’t bad enough, they dump the waste into valleys and riverbeds. The combination of these elements effectively kills everything in the ecosystems.” MTR mining can extract more than two and a half times as much coal per worker per hour than in traditional underground mines [15], thus greatly reducing the number of workers needed. The industry lost approximately 10,000 jobs from 1990 to 1997, as MTR and other more mechanized mining methods became more widely used.[16] In addition, because MTR sites employ fewer miners per amount extracted, labor unions have less representation, and the United Mine Workers of America have charged that anti-union practices are often associated with MTR.

Big Coal Flexes Lobbying Muscle
If you want to understand why America burns so much coal, spend a few minutes over at the lobbying disclosure web site run by the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the Office of the Clerk, in the first quarter of 2008, Big Coal’s new front group, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, spent a record-breaking $1.9 million in federal lobbying expenses. To put that in perspective, in the same period, the Solar Energies Industries Association spent all of $75,000.

Let's Call the Coal Thing Off
"If you build a new coal plant, you're making a 60-year commitment -- that's how long these plants are generally in use," explains David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center. "So we really need to avoid building a whole new generation of coal plants that use the old technology."

Clean Energy NowTwo, Out of the Top 50 Dirtiest Power Plants in the United States are Operated in Michigan PDF
It's interesting to me that Michigan utility corporations feel a need to built more coal powered power plants in Michigan when we are already among the dubious leaders in pollution production in the United States. When I read that Michigan utility companies tell us that we need more of the same, trust us, it makes me cringe (See J. Whiting #35 and Presque Isle #45). To add insult to injury, Michigan is down-wind from several others super polluters on this list. Demand Clean Renewal Energy from our Governor and Congress!

Why Michigan Leads America’s Coal Rush
Bad economy, heavy utility lobbying, fear of innovation top the list ... One reason new coal plant proposals do well in Michigan is that, in Lansing, elected leaders see the 19th- and 20th- century technology as a key to the state’s manufacturing future. Clean-energy innovation is the greatest economic opportunity to come Michigan's way since the invention of the Model T assembly line. Yet, in Michigan, energy companies are headed the other way. They have proposed no less than seven new coal-fired power plants for the state—more than for any other in the nation—and that, clean-energy entrepreneurs say, will make it more difficult for Michigan to “go green.”

Understanding global climate change
The science is clear: global warming is happening faster than ever and humans are responsible. Global warming is caused by releasing what are called greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Many of the activities we do every day like turn the lights on, cook food, or heat or cool our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. This is a major problem because global warming destabilizes the delicate balance that makes life on this planet possible. Just a few degrees in temperature can completely change the world as know it, and threaten the lives of millions of people around the world. But don't give up hope!

Pending Permit to Install (PTI) Applications for Coal-Fired Power Plants
These PTI applications are currently going through New Source Review (NSR) processing and are not ready to receive any public comments at present time. This site will be updated as more information becomes available.

Quit Coal
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Stop the Michigan Coal Rush
Michigan’s energy future is in the crosshairs. Our state is threatened with an onslaught of at least seven more dirty coal-fired power plants that will keep Michigan locked in the energy dark ages, dependent on imported fossil fuels and producing more dangerous global warming pollution. More outdated dirty coal plants will hamper the development of clean energy and the good paying jobs that come with it. But the Legislature can stop this from happening NOW by passing a NO NEW COAL PLANT policy until Michigan has a strong Clean Energy Plan.

New coal-fired power plants opposed in Mid-Michigan
In the battle over global warming, front lines are forming in places like Bay City and Midland -- proposed sites for Michigan's first large coal-fired power plants since 1984. If given the go-ahead, the plants could operate for 50 years. That's an eternity to environmental groups upset that existing coal plants pollute the air and emit greenhouse gases linked to climate change. "Why would we make a 50-year commitment to such very old technology?" asked Suzette Zelenak of MidlandCARES, a group opposing a proposed 750-megawatt coal plant in the city. "It's just absolutely backwards thinking."

Michigan at Center of War on Coal
The mounting opposition to the construction of as many as seven new coal-burning power plants in Michigan is part of a national campaign that is challenging both the economic and environmental wisdom of using coal’s 18th- and 19th-century technology to generate electricity and jobs in the 21st century. The campaign's achievements are told in the growing number of proposed coal-burning power plants that have been cancelled or halted by vigorous public protest. Of the 150 new coal-fired power plants proposed since 2004, 65 have been defeated. Fifteen more are likely to be halted, according to the Sierra Club. One of the most noted opposition campaigns nationally, in fact, occurred in Manistee, Mich., in 2003 and 2004, when a Texas developer's plan to build a $700 million, 425-megawatt plant was defeated by residents concerned about the consequences to their health, the environment, and their city's economy. Burning coal in power plants, say scientists, is the single largest source of carbon dioxide, the gas that is playing a huge role in heating the Earth's atmosphere. Burning coal, they say, also produces mercury and other heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and other toxic pollutants that have contaminated lakes, streams, and the atmosphere in Michigan and many other states with acid rain and smog. Mining coal has caused great damage as well, including acid mine drainage that ruins streams and lakes, and enormous disruption in natural landscapes caused by strip mining and blowing the tops off mountains in Appalachia.

Anti-coal coalition urging Gov. Granholm to reject new power plants
Over concerns of global warming, a coalition of state environmental and watchdog groups is urging Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm to reject applications to build new coal-fired power plants in Bay County and other parts of Michigan. The coalition, Clean Energy Now, was to announce an online petition drive today at press conferences in Bay County and throughout the state. The campaign aims to urge Granholm to invoke her authority under a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling and direct the state Department of Environmental Quality to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants as a greenhouse gas pollutant. The money to be spent by Consumers Energy and other utilities on new coal plants would be better invested in renewable energy technology like windmills and energy efficiency measures, which would create more jobs.

Coal in the United States
The US is the world’s second-largest coal producer, after China, but surpasses both the number three and four producer nations (India and Australia) by nearly a factor of three. Wood was this nation’s primary fuel until the mid-1880s, when deforestation necessitated greater reliance on abundant coal resources. Coal then remained America’s main energy source until the 1930s, when it was overtaken by oil. Today coal fuels about 50 percent of US electricity production and provides about a quarter of the country’s total energy. The US currently produces over a billion tons of coal per year, with quantities increasing annually. This is well over double the amount produced in 1960. However, due to a decline in the average amount of energy contained in each ton of coal produced (i.e., declining resource quality), the total amount of energy flowing into the US economy from coal is now falling, having peaked in 1998. This decline in energy content per unit of weight (also known as "heating value") amounts to more than 30 percent since 1955. It can partly be explained by the depletion of anthracite reserves and the nation’s increasing reliance on sub-bituminous coal and even lignite, a trend that began in the 1970s. But resource quality is declining even within each coal class.

ANALYSIS-U.S. coal production unlikely to sate world demand
U.S. coal production has room to grow, but expansion is unlikely to meet surging world demand because miners fear a boom-bust cycle, key reserves are declining, and regulation has tightened. Despite soaring prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has cut projections of U.S. output rather than raised them, and now foresees a total of 1.166 billion short tons by 2010, barely up from a record 1.163 billion in 2006. That is not enough to overcome what some coal officials see as a shortage of 25 million to 35 million tons this year in the 6-billion-ton world market and a shortfall of perhaps 70 million tons next year.

Coal trades at record highs on globalCOAL
LONDON (Reuters) - Physical coal set new record high prices on Thursday on electronic trading platform globalCOAL. Two trades for Q4 loading South African cargoes took place at $150.00 and $152.00 a tonne. The previous record price was on Wednesday at $145.00 a tonne.

U.S. coal surges near $130 a short ton
HOUSTON, June 11 (Reuters) - Prices for key U.S. coals rose sharply Wednesday, with one nearing $130 a short ton on the New York Mercantile Exchange. July CSX rail-delivered Central Appalachian coal soared $6 to $128 a short ton. July NYMEX Big Sandy River barge-hauled coal rose to $113 a ton, up about $3. With exports up, world prices rising and the spring U.S. stockpile build weak in the East, traders said U.S. utilities appear to be stepping up competition for domestic supply.


...having a strong environmental profile is actually a better business proposition.

Wall Street sees global warming pollution as a risk for investors
For years, power companies staunchly resisted addressing global warming, but the likelihood of carbon regulations has pushed many to reconsider that position. Goldman, Sachs; Morgan Stanley; and Lehman Brothers, for example -- is beginning to question dirty coal, turning instead to cleaner and less financially risky technologies. It's a trend we have seen before. "Back in the 1970s and 1980s, more than 100 nuclear plants were cancelled because utilities and the financial community lost confidence in them. My prediction is that the same awaits most of the 150 conventional coal plants now on the drawing board in the United States," says Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of NRDC's energy program.

Financial Risks of Coal Energy Investment
Since 2005, a large number of coal-fired power plant proposals in the U.S. have been cancelled or rejected, due to opposition from grassroots opponents and national environmental organizations (such as Sierra Club). However, a large number of coal-fired power plant projects that faced little or no political opposition have also been cancelled in the past two years. This article lists a number of factors which have made coal energy increasingly unattractive to potential project sponsors and investors, and which have thus led many companies to decide that building a coal-fired power plant is not a sound business decision at this time.

Coal Power: a Reckless Financial Gamble
A coal fired power plant is not just environmentally risky but financially risky. Emerging global warming laws will certainly--and necessarily--target coal power, increasing the plant’s operating costs. Despite widespread recognition that these laws are coming in the next few years, the utilities are ignoring these future costs by making the insupportable assumption that Big Stone II, South Dakota’s biggest source of global warming pollution, would be allowed to keep polluting for decades for free.

Major U.S. Banks Will no Longer Finance “Dirty” Power Plants
Several of the world’s largest investment banks will introduce new environmental standards, making it much harder for companies to get financing for such projects as coal-powered electricity plants. The Wall Street Journal has reported that JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, and Morgan Stanley will all introduce tighter standards on funding such projects. As you might expect from some of the biggest financial firms in the world, there’s a firm monetary, rather than altruistic, motive behind the move. These companies are expecting the U.S. government to place a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from power plants, within the next few years. So from now on, anyone seeking funds for “dirty” power plants will have to show that the plants could survive and profit under the suspected emissions caps.


Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduce a bill that would block the EPA and states from issuing permits to new coal-fired power plants that lack state-of-the-art carbon capture and storage technology. Since this technology is at least a decade away from commercial viability, if this bill passes it would essentially place a near-term moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.March 11, 2008

Big Coal Gets Thumped
King Coal's year of rejection by banks, judges, and a lot of other folks. Earth Policy Institute just released this revelatory chronology of really sad, horrible, and depressing events in the life of the coal industry since February 2007. What's next -- will Santa be switching to lumps of dirt?

News from the Coal Bust
Remember, oh, about a year ago when every day brought a new article about the coming Coal Boom? How times change. A few pieces worth noting, just from the last few days. Coal's being battered on two sides. On one side is cold, hard economics: coal plants just don't pencil out any more, and with one source of financing after another expressing reservations or pulling out, the outlook looks grimmer and grimmer. In addition to skyrocketing (I need a new word that means skyrocketing) construction costs, there's the cost of climate regulations, which is unknown but potentially enormous. Coal is just a terrible investment -- something only an unaccountable government bureaucrat handing out subsidies could love. On the other side are environmentalists. The Sierra Club gets the lion's share of the credit for its spectacular, coordinated, nation-wide, tooth-and-nail fight against individual coal plants. But the anti-MTR groups are getting in on it too now, and I have a feeling that's going to be one of the big stories of the next year. You just can't call coal "clean" when it means ravaging Appalachia.

Fed's Cut Coal Funding
Our coal deathwatch list just keeps on growing. At the behest of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, a major loan program for new rural coal power plants has been suspended. The Rural Utilities Service, a branch of the Department of Agriculture, says the White House was concerned about rising labor and materials costs as well as the likely regulation of carbon emissions, the AP reports. Four coal projects had stood to receive $1.3 billion of loans. But now that the federal government isn’t funding rural coal power plants they’ll be able to finance clean energy, right? Well, not yet.

Coal Costs Just Keep Climbing
Coal gets more expensive all the time. Abundant–maybe. Cheap–not any more. (Associated Press) Coal prices are jumping because the fastest-growing economies rely almost exclusively on the stuff. China’s electricity demand, met almost entirely with coal, turned it into a net importer late last year. Its voracious steel mills are shattering prices for the high-grade coking coal that stokes furnaces. Chinese officials have already signaled they’ll have a 20% coal-supply shortfall this year.

How Clean Coal Cooks Your Brain
"Clean coal" is not an actual invention, a physical thing – it is an advertising slogan. Like "fat-free donuts" or "interest-free loans."

How Coal Works
Coal is little more than dirt that burns. Thirty years ago, coal was seen as a fuel of the past. Nuclear power and natural gas were going to take us away from the Dickensian era of coal furnaces, steam-powered locomotives, and grime. But King Coal recovered, and is now used in record amounts. Forecasts of future energy use give a prominent role to coal. Some would say that coal is back, and here to stay. But coal is an unwelcome guest. Carbon emissions from burning coal are one of the leading causes of global warming. Acid rain, from sulfur emissions, is almost entirely due to coal burning. From mining to processing to transportation to burning to disposal, coal has more environmental impacts than any other energy source. While some of these can be lessened with effort, others, like carbon emissions, are an inevitable product of coal use. Its time to send our dirty old King into retirement.

The Dirty Truth About Coal
Coal is one of the most polluting sources of energy available, jeopardizing our health and our environment. We owe it to our children to consider smarter, cleaner, healthier options for meeting our energy needs rather than locking ourselves into using a polluting, backward technology for the next 50 years that harms people, damages our environment, and makes global warming much worse.


Relying on coal-derived liquid as an alternative fuel could nearly double global warming pollution for every gallon of transportation fuel produced and used.

Gas from Coal. Even Dirtier!
The coal industry is touting a plan to transform millions of tons of coal into diesel and other liquid fuels - an expensive, inefficient process that releases large quantities of carbon dioxide, the worst global warming pollutant, into the air. Instead of offering viable answers to the critical problem of global warming, this senseless industry "solution" would exacerbate the problem: Relying on coal-derived liquid as an alternative to oil-based fuels could nearly double global warming pollution for every gallon of transportation fuel that is produced and used.

Coal Executive Attacks Global Warming
We have called Robert Murray of Murray Energy a jerk before, but now we can add "insensitive and heartless fool" to our description. Six of his miners are trapped underground after an accident and he holds a press conference; and attacks global warming and restrictions on coal mining.

Global Warming could worsen Great Lakes problems
TRAVERSE CITY -- Climate change could worsen a litany of problems plaguing the Great Lakes, pushing water levels even lower, depleting fish populations and causing more storms that result in sewer overflows, advocates said.

Big Coal - The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future (book)
While many writers may be capable of gathering mountains of facts on the role the coal industry plays in contemporary American life, and stringing them together into a coherent narrative, fewer likely have the ability to turn those facts into an engaging book that a reader literally can not put down. Jeff Goodell, a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone and the New York Times Magazine, has done just that in his new book Big Coal: The Dirty Secrets Behind America's Energy Future.

Getting the "Best Deal" on Electricity in Michigan
Getting the “Best Deal” on electricity for Michigan residents While Michigan’s demand for electricity is not growing fast, sometime in the near future new sources of electric power will be necessary. Any new source of power will cost money. The question is: How can Michigan ratepayers get the “best deal” on their energy investments? The answer is Integrated Resource Planning (IRP).

The Consequences of Expanding America’s Dependence on Coal
Energy companies have proposed building a fleet of new coal-fired power plants across America. As of June 2006, power producers have approximately 150 new coal-fired plants on the drawing board, representing a $137 billion investment and the capacity to supply power to 96 million homes. If energy companies succeed in building even a fraction of these new power plants, it would have major impacts on America’s environment and economy. Further, this “coal rush” would consume investment dollars that could otherwise promote more sustainable energy sources. Fortunately, alternatives exist that would reduce or eliminate the need for new coal-fired power plants. By funneling investment instead into improvements in energy efficiency and expansion of renewable energy, the U.S. can avoid the potential impacts of the “coal rush” and improve the economy, the environment and public health.

Stopping the Coal Rush - the challenges and victories
Here’s a great resource I just stumbled across (hat tip to Alex Tinker). Sierra Club has compiled a Google Map (Google Earth version available too) of 138 proposed coal-fired power plants in the United States At first look, the situation seems daunting: 138 coal plants practically covering the the US. But after poking around and looking at a few of the proposed projects, one thing is clear: there are amazing and courageous organizations fighting each and every one of the coal plants.

Stop the Coal Rush
Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel around. It pollutes our air and water with mercury, destroys communities in Appalachia through mountaintop removal mining and contributes more carbon dioxide to global warming than any other fuel we use for electricity. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, where Dynegy is planning to build a new coal plant, declared last summer, “There’s not a coal-fired plant in America that’s clean. They’re all dirty.”

Coal Rush or Coal Bust?
Of the fuels commonly used to run power plants, none releases more carbon dioxide than coal—an unfortunate reality for utilities hoping to build a new generation of coal plants. With Congress set to pass strict controls on climate-changing gases like carbon dioxide perhaps as soon as next year, a nationwide push for new coal-fired plants over the last few years has begun to fade.

If Only It Was White
Several years ago, in Gillette, Wyoming, the epicenter of the coal boom in America, where 60 foot seams of coal lay just below the surface. A coal companies vice president, who did not want his name to appear in print, was deeply concerned about coal's future and expressed frustration with environmental attacks on coal, suggesting that it was all a problem of perception: "People don't like coal because it's black," he told me. "If it were white, all our problems would be solved." Whenever one of those slick ads for "clean coal" pops up on CNN, I think about that conversation in Gillette. The $35 million "clean coal" campaign, spearheaded by a coal industry front group called American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (formerly known as Americans for Balanced Energy Choices), is nothing less than a nationwide effort to paint coal white. (The coal industry may not want to acknowledge it, but we're living in the 21st century now. We have indeed figured out other ways to generate electricity besides burning out 30 million year old rocks. And with each passing year, those alternatives are getting cheaper and smarter.)

The Future of Coal
'Clean coal' is an oxymoron. Should we, the nation's beleaguered taxpayers, be required to spend billions of dollars on an oxymoron? The oxymoron in question is "clean coal," and in my view, the answer is "no." If coal is to have a future, the coal industry and its partners in the rail and electric power industries should pay for it themselves.


...every year coal-fired power plants release about 3.5 million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide, 10 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 48 tons of mercury, 56 tons of arsenic, 134,000 tons of hydrochloric acid and 130 million tons of toxic-laden waste -- some of it right into our air, ground and water supply.

Coal Industry Admits They're Dirty
In an unprecedented move, America's ultra-powerful Coal Lobby today admitted that they, in fact, are the world's dirtiest source of energy. Their new campaign, highlights not only the short-term economic benefits of coal, but also the long-term disaster awaiting us! This marks the first time in the history of the industry that they ever mentioned anything about pollution.

Coal is Cheap (and other myths)
Despite the U.S. coal industry’s incessant promotion of coal as “cheap“, coal prices have shot up. As global demand for coal soars and investors flee to commodities, Appalachian coal is up 93% and Wyoming coal up 64% from last year. Because coal contracts are purchased on a multi-year basis, changes in the market can take years to hit the consumer. However, sharp increases in Appalachian coal country are already here: on February 29 West Virginia subsidiaries of American Electric Power requested a 17% rate increase for 2008, on top of 5.5% and 10% increases in 2006 and 2007.

Big Coal Fights Dirty
In order to sell its agenda to the American public, ABEC has launched a $7-million, three-month national advertising drive. National Journal notes, "The first set of ads underscore that coal is the energy source for about half the nation's electricity output. A second round will tout so-called clean-coal technologies." Since January, ABEC executive director Joe Lucas has written at least eight "letters to the editor" in newspapers nationwide, pushing for more coal plants. ABEC has specifically targeted the 2008 election, recognizing that it needs an industry-friendly president to advance its agenda and block global warming reform. In 2000, for example, the coal industry donated more than $108,000 to George W. Bush's campaign, compared to just $16,450 for Al Gore.

Coal Industry Launches Full-Scale Attack Against Climate Legislation
The coal-industry front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has launched a major lobbying campaign against the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191). ACCCE claims it is opposed to Lieberman-Warner because it “does not adequately embrace” their “principles”. ACCCE’s 12 principles for federal legislation boil down to demands that they be allowed to construct new, uncontrolled coal-fired power plants until taxpayers pony up unlimited amounts of money for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. That’s not a statement of principles — it’s a ransom note.

No to Coal
One-hundred -plus coal-fired power plants are currently proposed to be built. If even a small portion of these plants are constructed the global warming pollution pumped into our air will make all our other efforts to reverse climate change irrelevant. Coal plants are the dirtiest, most regressive source of energy possible - poisoning our communities and environment. The Environmental Law Program is working with activists around the country to champion clean energy in the face of this unprecedented rush to build new coal plants.


If the world listens to old "King Coal" ... we face a future not just of climate disaster but also of massively rising energy prices, energy insecurity and economic stresses due to electricity supply instability alone.

An overdue farewell to old king coal
In the early 1990s wind turbines were seen as small-scale, fringe technology. The industry was a backyard enterprise, carried on in garages and on farms by starry-eyed pioneers. In 2007 there are now 214,000 people employed in renewable energy in Germany alone. The world has decided we need to stop using fossil fuels, but the International Energy Agency still has no idea how to switch from coal, oil and gas. It was to fill this need that Greenpeace commissioned an economic and technological model of how to clean up the energy sector globally, cutting emissions by half by 2050. Surprisingly, we found that eliminating nuclear power and reducing dependence on fossil fuels increases energy security and often lowers consumer energy prices. If the world listens to "King Coal" and his renewables skeptics, we face a future not just of climate disaster but also of massively rising energy prices, energy insecurity and economic stresses due to electricity supply instability alone.

Coal is losing its luster
February 24, 2008 Fossil fuel generation is coming under increasing scrutiny as alternatives gain acceptance with Wall Street financial institutions. In a revolutionary statement issued by three major investment houses last week, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley released their “Carbon Principles” and “Enhanced Diligence Process.” They consider these to be global warming “guidelines for advisors and lenders to power companies in the United States.” Citigroup released a statement to the media declaring: “… [I]f high carbon doxide-emitting technologies are selected by power companies, banks have agreed to follow the Enhanced Diligence process and factor these risks and potential mitigants into the final financing decision.” Indeed, the clear implication, as pointed out by Environmental Leader’s The Executive’s Daily Green Briefing, is that coal plants without carbon capture and sequestration will be highly frowned upon.

Bush Implants a Dirty Coal Crony in Key DOE Slot
His name is Stanley Suboleski and he's been appointed to the position of assistant secretary for fossil energy for the Dept. of Energy. His job is to "oversee projects such as developing clean-coal technologies and carbon sequestration, and polices related to fossil fuels." And with that maneuver, the White House has turned the chicken coop over to the fox.

No More Dirty Coal!
As the old saying goes, if you're in a hole, stop digging. Coal is global warming, not just in India and China, but also in the USA. Right now, there are plans for constructing more than 120 new coal-fired power plants in America (see searchable map), none of them "clean." It's hard to comprehend the enormity of the pollution that emerges from even just one of those plants, unless you consider what goes into the firebox.

National Academy of Sciences on coal
Yesterday, the National Academy of Sciences released a Congressionally mandated report on coal-related R&D challenges. Coal-state senators Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) requested a report on possible impediments to future coal production, and areas that need to be researched to keep the coal coming. Given that essentially coal-positive mandate, naturally NAS introduced the resultant report in its press release thusly...

World faces 'dirty, insecure' energy future
Governments must make a dramatic shift towards climate-friendly energy policies to avoid global economic disruption, industrialised countries warn. The International Energy Agency (IEA), which involves 26 governments, says that business as usual could lead to price shocks and sudden interruptions in energy supply, as well as a huge growth in climate-wrecking carbon dioxide emissions. "The energy future we are facing today, based on projections of current trends, is dirty, insecure and expensive," says IEA's Executive Director Claude Mandil. "New government policies can create an alternative energy future which is clean, clever and competitive."

US pulls the plug on flagship clean coal project
It was one of the Bush administration's biggest and boldest efforts to develop clean energy, and had backing from both industry and foreign governments. Now it appears doomed. On 30 January, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced it would not complete payment of its promised contribution of around $1.3 billion towards the FutureGen project, a coal power plant designed to use carbon capture and storage to cut emissions almost to zero. This was despite pledges to pay the remaining $500 million of the plant's total bill from a group of energy companies called the FutureGen Alliance and governments in China, India, South Korea, Australia and Japan. Energy secretary Samuel Bodman blames the decision on escalating costs, which the DOE estimates have doubled since the project was proposed in 2003. In its place he is proposing to share $156 million in 2009 between several smaller capture and storage projects at ...

China Surgest Ahead of U.S. in Clean Energy Spending
CHINA is leaving the US in the dust in its spending on clean energy - but it still has plenty to do if it is to shake off its sooty reputation. According to a study released last week by the Washington-based think tank, Worldwatch Institute, China will invest more than $10 billion on renewable energy this year - double the amount invested by the US in 2006.

Beyond Coal
When it comes to power generation, coal isn't cheap. Both power plant and fuel costs are up by nearly 300%, and projected to rise farther. Even before factoring in the risks of future greenhouse gas legislation, this has conspired to make a bet on coal-fired central station power equivalent to a bet on massive retail power price increases. Increasingly, this is a bet that neither equity nor debt providers are willing to take. And yet we continue to operate under the assumption that coal is cheap -- to the extent that we have largely framed our greenhouse gas policy conversation as a tradeoff between environmental stewardship and the cheap coal fantasy. (Lots of facts and graphs)

Major U.S. Banks Will no Longer Finance “Dirty” Power Plants
Several of the world’s largest investment banks will introduce new environmental standards, making it much harder for companies to get financing for such projects as coal-powered electricity plants. The Wall Street Journal has reported that JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, and Morgan Stanley will all introduce tighter standards on funding such projects. As you might expect from some of the biggest financial firms in the world, there’s a firm monetary, rather than altruistic, motive behind the move. These companies are expecting the U.S. government to place a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from power plants, within the next few years. So from now on, anyone seeking funds for “dirty” power plants will have to show that the plants could survive and profit under the suspected emissions caps.

News from the Coal Bust
Remember, oh, about a year ago when every day brought a new article about the coming Coal Boom? How times change. A few pieces worth noting, just from the last few days. Coal's being battered on two sides. On one side is cold, hard economics: coal plants just don't pencil out any more, and with one source of financing after another expressing reservations or pulling out, the outlook looks grimmer and grimmer. In addition to skyrocketing (I need a new word that means skyrocketing) construction costs, there's the cost of climate regulations, which is unknown but potentially enormous. Coal is just a terrible investment -- something only an unaccountable government bureaucrat handing out subsidies could love. On the other side are environmentalists. The Sierra Club gets the lion's share of the credit for its spectacular, coordinated, nation-wide, tooth-and-nail fight against individual coal plants. But the anti-MTR groups are getting in on it too now, and I have a feeling that's going to be one of the big stories of the next year. You just can't call coal "clean" when it means ravaging Appalachia.

Coal Plant Permit Approvals in Michigan

Michigan issues air permit for new CMS coal plant
Tue Dec 29, 2009—Consumers Energy's proposed 830-megawatt coal-fired power plant at the Karn/Weadock complex in Michigan has moved a step closer to construction after the state issued an air permit for the project, the company said Tuesday. Consumers, a unit of Jackson, Michigan-based CMS Energy Corp (CMS.N), said it would retire up to seven older coal-fired units -- five when the new plant enters service and another two depending on the needs of its 1.8 million Michigan customers. The company has not identified the older coal plants to be retired but planned to do so when it files for a certificate of necessity with the Michigan Public Service Commission in 2010, a spokesman told Reuters. The new plant is expected to cost more than $2 billion and enter service in 2017.

[Editor: This plant is far from being constructed however. Energy consumption is way down in Michigan. There are many other factors that play against the construction of this plant that we will continue to cover on these pages.]

 

Videos

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Burning Coal is a Seriously Stupid Idea!


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