Coal Power on Trial

Both reactors and cooling towers at the :en:Susquehanna Steam Electric Station south of :en:Shickshinny, Pennsylvania.Image via WikipediaCan you feel the tides turning? Is America and the world finally starting to look farther into the future than the next four years? Can we clean up the mess we’ve made of the planet and leave the place livable for our great great grandchildren? From ABC News…

In federal and state courtrooms across the country, environmental groups are putting coal-fueled power plants on trial in a bid to slow the industry’s biggest construction boom in decades.

Southern Company’s Plant Bowen in Cartersville, Georgia is seen in this aerial photograph in Cartersville in this file photo taken September 4, 2007. One of the biggest coal-fired plants in the country, it generates about 3,300 megawatts of electricity from four coal-fired boilers.

Coal plants provide just over 50 percent of the nation’s electricity. They also are the largest domestic source of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, emitting 2 billion tons annually, about a third of the country’s total.

Environmental groups cite 59 canceled, delayed or blocked plants as evidence they are turning back the “coal rush.” That stacks up against 22 new plants now under construction in 14 states – the most in more than two decades.

Meanwhile from the Huffington Post

the Justice Department announced that American Electric Power (AEP) — one of the most recalcitrant operators of outmoded, dirty coal power plants in the country — has agreed to spend $4.6 billion cleaning up its 46 dirty units in the Ohio Valley, including three of the nation’s twenty dirtiest facilities. The settlement was the penalty for AEP violating the Clean Air Act requirement that plants be cleaned up when they are modernized. The case was initiated by the Sierra Club back in 1999 and was joined by other environmental groups and some of the effected downwind states. The Bush Administration attempted to undercut this action with the misleadingly named “Clear Skies” proposal, but when Congress rebuffed the White House, the Justice Department became involved.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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