Climate & Energy

The 'other' Achilles heel of coal

Coal plants, like nuclear, suck up lots of water during operation

We've seen states like Kansas reject coal plants because of concerns the emissions will accelerate global warming. That's coal's biggest fatal flaw. We've also seen that nuclear power has its own Achilles heel in a globally warmed world -- water. Now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in a major editorial, raises both the emissions issue and the water issue for coal. It questions whether now is the time to be building thirsty coal plants in a state where major water sources like Lake Lanier (see picture) are drying up: Months before the drought had seized the public's full attention, the state Environmental Protection Division [EPD] granted permits for a new coal-fired power plant in Early County, a rural community in a severely depressed corner of southwest Georgia. But for a variety of reasons -- including mounting concerns about long-lasting water shortages and worsening air pollution -- state regulators ought to reconsider, or perhaps even reverse, their decision.The drought has forced citizens and political officials to confront environmental concerns that are usually brushed aside. So, while Mother Nature has our attention, Georgia's leaders should think broadly about conserving all of our resources and expanding our energy portfolio. Just how much water does the coal plant need?

Climate change could put millions out of work, says U.N.

Not only is climate change not a hoax manufactured by dirty hippies who hope to put every American out of a job, global warming is real enough to, um, put millions of people out of jobs, United Nations officials said yesterday. At a meeting of the International Labor Organization, the heads of the U.N. climate and weather agencies noted that work in the tourism and fisheries industries could be particularly threatened by climate change. And that’s not to mention those who could be forced to leave their jobs — and homes and communities — because of severe weather. On the …

How to get more distributed generation on the grid

Interview with smart grid expert Steve Pullins, part two

For nearly 30 years, Steve Pullins has worked in and around the utility industry, in capacities ranging from systems engineering to project development to high-level consulting. He currently works at SAIC, where he heads the Modern Grid Initiative for the National Energy Technology Laboratory. I spoke with him at the Discover Brilliant conference in Sep. 2007. He stressed that he was speaking to me as a concerned private citizen, not as a representative of the MGI. Part one is here. —– DR: What does intelligence look like at the generation end? Responding to demand signals in real time? SP: It …

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

NRDC says it supports ASCA

Forgive the intermittent posting. The live feed is coming and going a bit. It came back in just in time for me to hear David Hawkins say on behalf of the NRDC -- though not on behalf of USCAP -- that the bill's "emissions reductions in the early years are strong. Toward the end ... we'll need emissions reductions to be stronger than they are." But, he went on, it "merits an affirmative vote."

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

Prepared statements of those testifying before the committee

Prepared statements, now available: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Ca), Chairman, Committee on the Environment and Public Works David Hawkins, Director, Climate Center, Natural Resources Defense Council Dr. David Greene, Corporate Fellow, Geography and Environmental Engineering, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Robert Baugh, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO Andrew Sharkey, President and CEO, American Iron and Steel Institute Donald R. Rowlett, Director of Regulatory Policy and Compliance, OGE Energy Corp.

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

Cardin wants more money for public transit

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) says he can support the bill if it provides more funds for public transportation, including at the state level. He said this in the context of a response to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who wants the bill changed to a sector-by-sector (as opposed to economy-wide) cap-and-trade system. Cardin suggested that Senators shouldn't be demanding extraordinary changes to the legislation and threatening to withhold support unless their demands are met. My guess? Cardin's suggestion is futile.

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

Tom Carper requests improvements in ASCA

Tom Carper (D-Del.) has said he will be able to support the legislation if it: includes provisions to mitigate pollutants like nitrogen oxide and mercury found most widely in the northeastern United States; moves to a more just allocation system -- one that devotes more credits to cleaner energy sources; contains no built-in punishment of early actors, companies that have already begun mitigating their emissions. Not the most ambitious of demands, but there they are.

Coal: Still not cheap

The cost of the FutureGen ‘clean coal’ plant doubles

This from Greenwire today ($ub req'd): "The DOE FutureGen program has announced that their "clean coal" plus carbon sequestration is checking in at $1.8 billion for a 275 MW plant, or $6500/kW." OK, so it's at an early stage, but even if you cut that cost in half, it still doesn't pencil out. How long before we get over the illusion that coal is cheap? Story below the fold. (Note that I have given them the benefit of the doubt that their description of the plant as a "275 watt" facility was a typographical error.)

The heart of the matter

Everything comes down to whether fighting climate change will hurt ordinary voters

Many, many, many, many people have criticized the astonishingly stupid headline on last Tuesday’s front-page Washington Post story: "Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats." The Republican base still clings to denial of plain reality, the Republican leadership is openly in hock to fossil-fuel companies, media coverage of climate has never been more intense, fighting climate change polls off the charts, especially among young people, and polls show that people trust Democrats over Republicans to take care of the issue. In the calcified, beclotted mind of a WaPo editor, that means Democrats are at risk. The village elders can’t help …