Coal news from the last couple of days, some good some bad.
From the Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier
Young activists fired up in fight against coal
Outside the high school here Tuesday night, as people gathered for a public hearing, three young women wrestled with a big black inflatable coal plant that looked similar to a jump castle — except for the words “CLEAN UP DIRTY COAL PLANTS NOW” on the side.
One woman trying in vain to get the prop’s smoke stacks raised was Katheryn Hilton, 20, of Aiken, who two months ago spent 11 hours in jail after being arrested at a demonstration at a coal plant in Virginia. Hilton said coal is a dirty technology that will spew mercury into the air and waterways and contribute to global warming.
Next to her, Sara Tansey, 20, looked for leaks. She took a year off from the University of South Carolina to fight the coal industry. “There are lots of young people who got engaged on the climate and energy issue during the election,” she said. “I think young people are really awakening to injustice of the whole life cycle of coal.”
Across the country, anti-coal activists, many of them students in their 20s, are attending hearings and engaging in demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience reminiscent of the protests their parents might have seen in the 1970s against nuclear plants.
From the American Falls, Idaho Times-News
Environmentalists rally against gasification plant
A proposal to build a $1 billion coal gasification plant in eastern Idaho is drawing opposition from regional and national environmental groups concerned about the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The conservation groups have also been joined by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in expressing concern about the plant planned by Southeast Idaho Energy and designed to convert coal to fertilizer.
The environmental groups and tribal officials are focusing their objections on the estimated 2.3 million tons of carbon dioxide that would be emitted each year. The roster of environmental groups includes the Sierra Club, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund and the Idaho Conservation League.
Justin Hayes, program director for the Idaho Conservation League, acknowledges that company officials have taken steps to account for pollutants. But Hayes also says attitudes are changing, and the nation can ill afford to disregard the impact carbon dioxide emissions have on the environment. Once operational, Hayes contends the plant would account for an estimated 5 percent of Idaho’s total annual carbon dioxide emissions.
Activists target E.ON coal plant
More than 90 Greenpeace activists were arrested at the weekend after chaining themselves to building machinery and cranes being used to construct a new coal-fired power station.
The campaigners were attempting to stop work on energy company E.ON’s [see my earlier post on Greenpeace activisim against EON‘s proposed Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant in the UK–JR]power station in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.
Greenpeace said the occupation on Saturday morning was intended to highlight the role that coal plays in creating air pollution and contributing to climate change.
“E.ON is blindly ignoring the science that clearly tells us coal is the biggest danger to our climate,” said Agnes de Rooij, Greenpeace international climate change energy campaigner.
“Today’s action took the message that this is unacceptable, directly to them.”
E.ON has declined to comment on the protestors’ actions, but a spokesperson denied Greenpeace’s claims that the plant has not yet been granted the necessary permits and told edie there was “no question” of the plant undermining emissions reduction targets.
Earlier this year, Joost van Dijk, chairman of the executive board of E.ON Benelux, said: “This state-of-the-art power station, with CO2-trapping as soon as this is possible[When might that be?–JRemphasis–JR], meets the important requirement of securing electricity supply in the Netherlands in the long run at an affordable level.
From the Environmental News Service
Electric Co-op Sues Kansas Governor Over Coal Plant Denial
Sunflower Electric Power Corporation today filed a lawsuit in federal court against Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and other state officials over the denial of an air quality permit for the expansion of the cooperative’s coal-fired power plant at Holcomb Station in Finney County.
The October 2007 decision to deny the air quality permit for two proposed 700 megawatt units was the first in the United States to do so on the grounds that the carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal to generate electricity would contribute to global warming.
The lawsuit asserts that the officials violated Sunflower’s right to fair and equal treatment under the law and are unlawfully prohibiting interstate commerce.
Named in the lawsuit in addition to Sebelius, are Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson and Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Roderick Bremby.
The lawsuit asks the court to order that these three officials be stopped from preventing the regional wholesale power supplier from pursuing the expansion.
Sunflower operates a 1,257 MW system of wind, gas, and coal-based generating plants and a 2,300-mile transmission system for the needs of its six member cooperatives who serve more than 400,000 customers living in central and western Kansas.
Earl Watkins, president and CEO of Sunflower, said today, “In denying the air permit, the administration has discriminated against 400,000 Kansans and over 1.5 million citizens from other states who will be forced to pay the price of this decision for decades to come through higher electric rates. We believe we have an obligation to act on behalf of the people we serve and to correct this wrong.”
Report claims energy security fears do not justify coal expansion: Coal-fired plants should not get go-ahead, regardless of concerns over reliance on Russian gas, say scientists
The government must not allow the construction of new coal-fired power plants until Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology has been proven to be effective, according to a major new study by climate experts.
The report from the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit at Sussex University claims the government should instead look to enhance the gas storage network to improve energy security while the renewable and nuclear sector are given time to come online.
The government is currently faced with a decision on whether to give the go-ahead to the first new coal-fired power plant to be built in the UK for 30 years at Kingsnorth in Kent.
Supporters of the proposals claim a new generation of coal-fired power stations are required to avoid energy shortages over the next decade, arguing that CCS technology can be added at a later date to curb emissions from such plants.
But the University of Sussex team, led by Jim Watson, claims that stronger guarantees that CCS will be fitted are required and calls for legally binding standards that would effectively ban coal-fired plants without CCS.
The report argues that without such measures the UK’s target to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 will be put in jeopardy.
“The move to an 80% reduction target for 2050 is welcome, but it is equally important that short term policy decisions are consistent with this goal,” says the report.
The battle is becoming more intense.