As many as 353 coal-fired power generators in 31 states — representing up to 59 GW of power capacity — are no longer economically viable compared with cleaner, more affordable energy sources.
Nearby families breathed a little easier after Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) reversed course and withdrew plans to build a coal-burning waste dump at its Cane Run site. The news concluded a three-year battle between the coal plant and Sierra Club activists and nearby communities.One of those activists was Kathy Little, who lives down the street from the Cane Run site. Kathy was named 2011 Louisvillian of the Year by LEO Weekly, Louisville's weekly magazine. She was also awarded the Sierra Club's 2012 Special Achievement Award for her instrumental role in LG&E’s decision to convert its coal plant to natural gas.
As LEO's profile explains it, Kathy's story of activism started with the view from her porch, which included open acres of farms and orchards when she bought her home in 1979. It's a different story these days. The Cane Run site got a lot bigger. Which is why Kathy uses YouTube and the media to share images of LG&E's dangerous coal dust, like the following:
Kathy's activism began in reaction to the enormous coal ash pond in Tennessee that breached in 2008 and sent more than a billion gallons cascading across 300 acres, pulverizing homes and destroying waterways. After that disaster, the EPA released locations of high hazard ash ponds.
"And I happened to be 50 yards from one," Kathy says. "I started inquiring about an emergency plan if the pond near us were to breach. I called around. Government agencies knew of nothing. I called LG&E and they said they had nothing like that and they weren't going to do it either."
Instead, LG&E wanted a permit to build another dry landfill. The message was clear: LG&E wasn't interested in public health and the safety of surrounding communities.
"I knew the black dust coming off the top of the landfill was not healthy to breathe. It's everywhere on our homes and cars. But what I am most fearful of is what it's doing to my child's health," Kathy says.
She soon after met and teamed up with Sierra Club activists, who helped her get the answers she was looking for.
"Armed with information, I went back to my neighborhood and walked around dropping off materials and looking for people who'd challenged LG&E about these issues. The answer was 'no.' I had people who were concerned, but that was it. Something had to be done."
Opportunity knocked this past summer when Kathy and other activists caught malfunctions at LG&E's sludge plant on camera.
"I passed along pictures to the media. The APCD (Louisville Air Pollution Control District) has fined LG&E $30,000 so far. Not bad, but I’m not finished," Kathy says.
LG&E's recent withdrawal of a proposal to build a new coal-burning waste dump at its Cane Run station validates what Kathy and so many other clean-air advocates have been working for.
However, the battle is just heating up. The current coal ash landfill is still there and toxic dust continues to loom over nearby residents. The utility is considering building a huge retaining wall, "possibly as tall as a 13-story building, so LG&E can put more waste in its current Cane Run dump on the same property," reports the Courier-Journal.
Kathy will keep up the fight: "I will keep going out there and raising hell for people who don't have a voice and for our environment that is taking a heck of a hit."
Global Wind Day is a worldwide event that occurs annually on 15 June. It is a day for discovering wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to change our world.
It is also a day for discovery of the work that has already begun by pioneers around the world. In more than 75 countries around the world, wind farms are in operation, generating energy from a clean and renewable source.
Thousands of individuals are involved in the production of energy from the wind, but for many people, wind energy is a mystery. Global Wind Day is the day when you can visit wind farms, meet experts, attend events and find out everything you want to know about wind energy.
The European Wind Energy Association – EWEA – and the Global Wind Energy Council – GWEC – coordinate the Global Wind Day through a network of partners. The day started as a European one in 2007 and went Global in 2009. On 15 June, thousands of public events are organised all over the world.
Mayors From Nearly 100 Cities, Many in “Coal States”, tell EPA Chief Lisa Jackson they Support the Agency’s Mercury Rule
The following is Mayor Bloomberg’s statement on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recently issued Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants (MATS).
"Cutting mercury pollution will save countless lives and help millions of Americans avoid the terrible health consequences it produces. That is why today I am proud to join nearly 100 of my fellow mayors from around the country in offering our support for EPA’s new mercury standards. Twenty-two years is too long to wait for this common sense measure."
According to Sierra Club's Bruce Nilles, there's really no such thing as "clean coal." Pollution from the coal-fired power plants —which are often located in poorer communities, such as in West Virginia —creates smog, which can cause chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties, and worsen conditions like bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. The coal mining process also takes its toll on the natural environment, especially in low-income areas. Beyondcoal.org reports that during the past 10 years, 500 of the biggest mountains in West Virginia have been destroyed as part of coal mining efforts.
Nilles points to a number of factors -- such as powerful monied interests, a "broken" political system and competing global agendas -- as barriers to overcoming the coal problem. Though some disagree with the "Beyond Coal" platform, Nilles stands firm in his belief that coal is a major threat to the global environment.
The Reid Gardner coal plant is only 500 yards from homes on nthe Moapa River Reservation and creates a dark cloud that rains dirty coal pollution. As a result familes fear for the health of their kids and family. The EPA is taking public comments about a plan to require Reid Gardner to install pollution controls that reduce dirty coal pollution but the proposal only recommends second-rate pollution control technology. Join the Moapa tribe and stand for clean air and a healthy future. Send a comment to the EPA and protect the tribe from dangerous coal pollution.
The forest-shaded hills of the Appalachian Mountains near Charleston, WV, may seem an unlikely place for Indian activists to campaign against a destructive coal plant being built 8,000 miles away in Gujarat state in India. But that is where Soumya Dutta of the People’s Science Forum and Debi Goenka of the Conservation Action Trust are headed this week, to meet with local communities engaged in similar struggles against coal corporations and to build a global coalition to fight back against dirty coal.
Last month Dutta led a team of retired Indian justices and high-level officials on a fact-finding mission to the site of a massive new 4,000 MW coal-fired power station along the shoreline of the Arabian Sea near Mundra, India. The team documented the glaring social and environmental violations being committed by the Tata Power Company which is building the plant. Dutta heard first-hand from local fishing villagers and salt-pan workers how the Mundra plant has contaminated their land and waters and threatened their livelihoods, even forcing some to abandon their ancestral homes.
What’s worse, the local communities have been systematically excluded from the process and discussions leading to the approval of the Mundra plant. Tens of thousands of local villagers face severe health impacts, economic hardship, and even displacement when the behemoth coal plant comes fully online. And yet Tata Power has failed to account for or even acknowledge these social and ecological impacts in its bid for the project.
BEIJING, May 2, 2012 (IPS) - China is notorious for containing some of the world’s deadliest mines - a reputation that has been corroborated in recent months by a series of fatal accidents. China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of coal. But the mining industry is beset by illegal operations, dangerous working conditions, local corruption and cover-ups of fatalities.
Nine coal miners died and 16 were injured in an explosion in Inner Mongolia in the latest disaster Apr. 23. Twenty-one persons were detained for allegedly attempting to cover up the deaths of miners, a crime punishable with a fine and imprisonment.
At least ten workers in an illegal coal mine in China’s northern Shanxi province died in a flood. In a separate accident in central Henan province last month at least five miners were killed in a flood.
Safety conditions at China’s mines have advanced considerably. But they continue to be counted as among the world’s most dangerous. According to official figures last year there were 1,973 fatalities, down from 2,433 in 2010 and 7,000 in 2002. In 2010, estimates saw six die a day in China’s mines - compared with just 48 deaths a year in America.
The pollution caused by coal is serious business, as are the devastating affects coal pollution has on our health, our mountains, our air and water, and our planet. But sometimes the claims made by coal boosters are truly absurd, and the Sierra Club has just launched a new series of videos spoofing industry attempts to dismiss the very real harm that coal pollution causes.
I may be dating myself here, but I grew up watching the PBS classics, and so one of my favorite videos in the series is the one featuring painter Bob Ross. He always made it look so easy to plant those happy little trees. In our new video, a coal executive does a voiceover for Bob Ross as he paints a mountain: "Now, you can see where we've blown the mountaintop, exposing the coal. Scrapey scrapey, good bye lakey! And all the rivers and creatures as well."
I hope you'll check out the full set of videos here, and then share them with your friends - we launched these two videos this week, and we'll be releasing three more in the coming weeks. You can also "like" Mr. Coal on Facebook and follow him on Twitter for more of his crazy talk.
These videos underscore how truly ridiculous it is for the industry to claim coal is safe and harmless. After all, every year, coal pollution contributes to 13,000 premature deaths, triggers 200,000 asthma attacks, and exposes 300,000 newborn babies to dangerous levels of mercury. Mountaintop removal operations have blown up over 500 mountains, and buried over 2,000 miles of streams with rock and debris.
That's why Americans have rejected 166 new coal fired power plants, and why over 100 plants are now announced for retirement. America is moving beyond coal, to clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, and solar that are creating tens of thousands of jobs, and sparking innovation that will power our country and our economy in the 21st century.
So help us spread the word. Enjoy these videos, and tell your friends - coal will say anything!
-- Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign