Tag Archives: clean coal

Let the coal burn! And China and India are doing just that

Amazing the amount of press time/coverage a lousy rock, aka “coal,” gets around the world. And never mind the carbon dioxide emitted whenever a supply of those rocks are burned – for heat, for electricity, for steam, etc. What would the Molly Maguires think today? Read here to learn about the role of coal in China and India. Not good.

‘Stop the War on Coal Act’ passes

This is more evidence, for those who care about Earth, of who not to vote for in November.

The ethics of ‘clean coal’ propaganda

Let’s get one thing clear right now: As I have pointed out previously (and will likely continue doing so), there is no such thing as clean coal. The carboniferous rock is dirty. Dirty to the core. I remember the first winter (1989) after my late wife and I moved to Pennsylvania from the now closed Plattsburgh Air Force Base across Lake Champlain from where I now live, we tried heating our new three-bedroom home with the coal-fired stove the seller left behind for us. I tried, really tried, to keep the damn thing going, but invariably the flame would go out, necessitating a complete emptying of he coal fuel and restarting of the fire. The filthy ash and dust that damn thing generated was incredible. A decade later, Monica would be told she would soon need new lungs and that’s when she was placed on the transplantation waiting list at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Please don’t believe the hoopla and lies coming from the “coal is clean for the U.S. of A. camp. It is propaganda. All of it. Read this article for more about the propaganda.

The triumph of King Coal: Hardening our addiction to the rock

For 20 years, I lived within shouting distance of a huge expanse of land ruined a century ago by the anthracite coal kings. Now, here we are in the 21st century and still the damage goes on, from the death of former trout streams from acid mine drainage to our changing climate. Wake up, folks.

Some words on the ‘future’ of energy, from PEER

PEER=Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Everything King Midas touched turned to gold.  But what some people touch turns into…well, the opposite of gold.  That has been the White House experience on energy.

In a major speech this week, President Obama laid out his “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future” (all White House initiatives these days have the word “Future” in them).  The speech was curious, in that —

  • His path to greater independence from foreign oil is rooted in our continuing dependence on fossil fuels;
  • Climate change was mentioned only once and then in passing reference to nuclear power.  He did not mention the need to control greenhouse gases once; and
  • Two pillars of his plan are “clean coal” and “safe nuclear power” – neither of which, to our knowledge, exists.

He endorsed expanded drilling for natural gas in shale formations as our best “new source of energy.”  The President cautioned that we should avoid “polluting our water supply” but neglected to mention that his EPA lacks the legal authorityto prevent that result.

Another “new” source of fuel is supposed to come from biofuels, without mention that biofuels are often net energy consumers, have major environmental costs, and help drive up already spiking food prices.

One of his key energy efficiency planks was high-speed rail, on the iffy premise that all rail projects create efficiencies, even as several cash-strapped states walk away from high price rail projects.

Another central tenet was our need to increase reliance on nuclear power (he has proposed tripling the funding for loan guarantees).  He said he had ordered a “safety review” of reactors but, characteristically, is not waiting for the results.

Another bulwark of his energy vision was expanded offshore drilling, a solution he derided as a candidate.  His administration ignored warnings from his oceans agency in endorsing a major expansion of offshore drilling just days before the BP spill.   After admitting there had been mistakes (but not enumerating them), he said lessons were learned and green-lighted expanded drilling in the Arctic Ocean where adequate spill response is nigh impossible – an odd lesson to draw from the debacle in the Gulf.

Every President since Richard Nixon has issued a clarion call to lessen our “dependence on foreign oil” to little effect.  President Obama’s energy address could have easily been delivered by George W. Bush. It was not a strategy but a dingy laundry list.  President Obama has yet to articulate energy “change we can believe in.”

True energy independence will require a fundamental restructuring of power consumption, generation and delivery – not more utility-controlled mega-fuel projects.  Help us work toward a truly secure energy future.

Old-style coal plants going up across country

Burn, baby, burn, Pollute, baby, pollute. Here’s the sad story.

PEER: Ban coal ash from federal procurement

This is from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER:

Huge Carbon Footprint Should Disqualify Combustion Wastes under Obama Order

Washington, DC – An Executive Order directing federal agencies to reduce the carbon footprint of their purchases should disqualify purchases of coal ash and other coal combustion wastes, according to a filing today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  If federal procurement rules are changed to bar coal combustion wastes, the coal industry would lose access to a sizeable portion of construction market.

On October 8, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13514, entitled Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.  One of the directive’s main purposes is to leverage the federal government’s significant purchasing power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Significantly the order covers both direct greenhouse gas emissions from the use of the finished product as well as indirect emissions used to create the product in the first place.

Coal-fired power, which creates the ash and other combustion wastes, is a main source of greenhouse gases in the nation.  In response to a similar petition filed last month by PEER, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed a center on its own website promoting the re-use of coal ash on the grounds of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among other claims now “being re-evaluated” according to the disclaimer on now-blank EPA web pages.

“If the federal government is truly going to reduce its carbon footprint, banning coal ash is an unavoidable step,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that EPA is now deciding whether to classify coal ash as a hazardous waste.  “Right now our system has backward incentives, giving ‘green’ credit for using the ultimate ‘brown’ product – coal ash.”

Highly toxic coal combustion wastes are today used an array of consumer, agricultural and commercial products.  Coal ash is also widely used in construction, particularly cement, drywall and tiles.   Current purchasing guidelines mandate federal procurement of coal combustion fly ash cement and concrete products since they are classified as recovered content or recycled products.  PEER advocates revising these procurement guidelines because they now conflict with the Obama Executive Order.

Each year, the federal government directly purchases more than half a trillion dollars in goods and services.  Federal purchasing accounts for between a quarter and a third (recent recovery spending has pushed up the federal share) of the construction sector.  Public construction projects represent 25% of total construction uses of U.S. coal combustion residuals.

The PEER comments are directed to the White House Council on Environmental Quality as it prepares guidelines for greenhouse gas accounting to implement the Obama order.  A major task before CEQ is how to account for indirect emissions of greenhouse gases, the area where coal ash carries a huge liability.

“Current policy provides a federal market subsidy to the greenhouse gas intensive coal industry,” added Ruch.  “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires that we recognize the full lifecycle costs of coal.”

Read the PEER comments to CEQ

See the recent EPA retreat on promoting coal ash

Look at the products containing coal ash

View the effort to classify coal ash as hazardous waste