Midwest Coal Rush
Dirty coal is making a comeback...
For three decades the devastating pollution costs associated with burning coal for energy has prevented the construction of new coal power plants. American innovation has helped clean the air while meeting US energy demands with clean energy choices such as energy efficiency, wind, solar and clean-burning natural gas.
All that progress is now at risk. With a sympathetic White House, relaxed environmental protections, and large state and federal subsidies, dirty coal is staging its most serious resurgence in thirty years. 114 new coal-burning power plants are in various stages of planning and permitting in the US today. Most of the plants are proposing outdated coal combustion technology which would create the largest new source of global warming pollution in the US.
Almost one half of the new coal plants are proposed in the Upper Midwest – with a record 12 plants in Illinois! These new coal plants, some of which are already being permitted and funded with taxpayer subsidies, will not replace the old existing coal plants but instead will compound our existing pollution woes. These “new” coal plants emit essentially as much carbon dioxide – the principal cause of global warming -- as a 1950s-era coal plant.
What Is At Stake?
Our Health: Coal-burning power plants are the single largest source of mercury, a potent neurotoxin contaminating our nation’s waterways. The Illinois Department of Health has issued a fish consumption advisory due to dangerous levels of mercury in every waterway in the state. US EPA estimates that one in six women in America has levels of mercury in their bodies that presents a risk of permanent brain damage to her child in utero.
Coal-burning power plants also cause the fine soot pollution that blankets our cities. This fine soot bypasses the lung’s natural defenses and becomes lodged deep in the lungs where it causes asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart attacks, and even premature death. The Midwest already has its share of air quality alert days – more coal plants will only mean more dirty air days.
Our Economy: Investing in dirty old coal technology closes the market to expanding clean energy opportunities in the Midwest. Modern clean energy technologies, such as energy efficiency and wind power, are viable solutions to meet future energy needs in the US. The Midwest has an exciting opportunity, with its abundant wind and biomass resources, to become a leader in the 21st century energy market. Midwest wind energy alone could meet 25% of America’s electricity needs and create thousands of additional jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance of clean energy systems.
Our Future: Leading experts agree that the single largest threat facing our planet and our children’s future is global warming. A 2004 Pentagon-commissioned report states that “ because of potentially devastating consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change … should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern.” The proposed Midwest coal plants would add billions of tons of new carbon dioxide to the air, making them the #1 US threat to global warming, at a time other states and 140 nations are taking action to reduce their global warming pollution.
Stop New Dirty Coal NOW To Build A Clean Energy Future
Building dirty coal-burning power plants is a giant step in the wrong direction, leading us into a future of at least 50 more years of additional air pollution and increased health risks. The Midwest needs to become a leader by banning new dirty coal-fired power plants and instead investing in safe and clean energy technology. Clean energy alternatives should be considered before any other technologies. [end of article]
To register your objection to Duke Energy's proposed new Cliffside coal plants in North Carolina, e-mail the NC Utilities Commission with a brief statement at firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject heading: Cliffside or Docket E-7, Sub 790). Ask the Utilities Commission to reject Duke's construction request, and include any negative comment about coal. Send it by Weds February 28 if you can, although that decision date may wind up being postponed (at the request of several concerned legislators). You don't have to be a resident of NC to object. We'll all pay the price for the 11 million tons of carbon dioxide that these new NC plants will generate every year.
Thanks for any e-mails. For more about the struggle in NC against the mighty Duke Energy, which has its tendrils deep into local government and local corporations, see previous posts on this blog. More will be forthcoming.
Keywords: coal coal-fired power plants Duke Energy midwest coal rush Illinois Sierra Club map of coal supply largest source of global warming mercury brain damage asthma