Ted Nace

Ted Nace is the director of CoalSwarm, a collaborative information clearinghouse on U.S. and international coal mines, plants, companies, politics, impacts, and alternatives. He is the author of Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal (CoalSwarm, 2010).

Cash for Coal Clunkers

We should pay to shut down dirty old coal plants

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Inspired by this adage, we could create a positive financial incentive to induce power companies to shut down old coal plants. And because coal plants are so costly to society, a Cash for Coal Clunkers program could be revenue neutral.

Death of a Thousand Cuts

A messy but practical strategy for phasing out the U.S. coal fleet

By 2030, we have to stop emitting greenhouse gases from coal. That conclusion is most famously associated with NASA’s climate chief James Hansen, but Hansen is not alone. In a recent paper, nine other climate scientists — David Beerling, Robert Berner, Pushker Kharecha, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Mark Paganini, Maureen Raymo, Dana Royer, Makiko Sato, and James Zachos — joined Hansen in identifying a 2030 phase-out as the “sine qua non” for avoiding dangerous climate change. The scientists concluded: Decision-makers do not appreciate the gravity of the situation … Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, for just another decade, practically eliminates the …

What happened to those 151 proposed new coal plants?

We’re kicking butt on coal

Bummed out about Copenhagen, the U.S. Senate, that expensive-sounding kggrstch emanating from somewhere in your transmission? Well, here’s some good news to sip and enjoy: the amazing success of the fight to stop new coal plants. Consider the situation in early 2007. At that time the Energy Department released a survey showing 151 new coal plants in progress. Speaking to the National Press Club in February 2007, NASA’s head climate scientist James Hansen identified stopping this boom in new coal plant construction as a necessary condition for halting climate disaster. Hansen’s focus on coal proved invaluable as a yardstick for …

Vapor jobs

Big Coal's far-out proposal for an economic stimulus

Last week the coal lobbying group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity held a press conference to announce a study of the employment and other economic benefits of building new coal plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The plan, developed by Denver-based BBC Research and Consulting, looks at the effects of building 38, 122, or 188 new coal plants, each with 90 percent CCS. Since "jobs" and "stimulus" are the watchwords these days in Washington, ACCCE decided to emphasize the "6.9 million total job-years of labor" that would be created by building, fueling, and operating these new coal plants. Well, maybe. But there's a problem with the time frame. The "stimulus" jobs being trumpeted by the ACCCE would not begin to appear until around 2020, according to what the utility industry's own research institute, EPRI, told Congress in May [PDF]. In short, this is vapor employment, jobs that won't start to materialize for several presidential administrations down the road -- maybe during the second term of Huckabee/Palin. What's depressing is that ACCCE actually talked leaders of four major unions into being its sock puppets at the press conference. One was Abraham Breeley of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, who said, "This study demonstrates that [coal with carbon capture and storage] has the potential to create literally millions of jobs for workers across the country, in every region -- and I think it's very important to point out that these are jobs that can sustain families." Message to Breeley and comrades: Stop hanging out with the coal boys. Instead, go down the street to the American Wind Power Association, which just reported that 83,000 people were building and operating wind farms in 2008. Or check out the Solar Energy Industries Association, which just reported that the newly signed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create 110,000 jobs in the solar industry in the next two years. Compare those 193,000 solar and wind power jobs to the 174,000 jobs currently provided by coal mining (83,000) + coal transportation (31,000) + coal-fired power generation (60,000). Not only is combined solar/wind employment beginning to move past total coal-related employment, but the gap is expected to widen.

Notable quotable

When to change that light bulb

"Often when I'm on TV, they'll ask what are the three most important things for people to do [to stop global warming]. I know they want me to say that people should change their light bulbs. I say the number one thing is to organize politically; number two, do some political organizing; number three, get together with your neighbors and organize; and then if you have energy left over from all of that, change the light bulb." -- writer and activist Bill McKibben

Litigate this!

The ultimate directory of climate change cases

The estimable Arnold & Porter law firm has released a comprehensive online directory of climate change cases. Don't be deceived by the simplicity of the opening page. Just click on "Case Index" at the bottom of the opening page, which opens up a 35-page directory. Fantastic!