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Articles by 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).

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  • King Coal’s year of rejection by banks, judges, and a lot of other folks

    Earth Policy Institute just released this revelatory chronology of really sad, horrible, and depressing events in the life of the coal industry since February 2007. What's next -- will Santa be switching to lumps of dirt?

    Feb. 26, 2007: James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a leading climate scientist, calls for a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants that do not sequester carbon, saying that it makes no sense to build these plants when we will have to "bulldoze" them in a few years.

    Feb. 26, 2007: Under mounting pressure from environmental groups, TXU Corporation, a Dallas-based energy company, abandons plans for eight of 11 proposed coal-fired power plants, catalyzing the shift from coal-based to renewable energy development in Texas.

    April 2, 2007: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and that EPA's current rationale for not regulating this gas is inadequate.

    May 3, 2007: Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signs a bill that prevents new power plants from exceeding 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity generated, creating a de facto moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants in the state.

  • Activists worldwide target coal plants and banks

    Rainforest Action Network's Matt Leonard provides this roundup of Fossil Fools Day actions targeting coal plants, coal minings, and the banks funding it all. Rising Tide (North America, U.K., and International units) spearheaded these efforts and others.

    Cliffside: 8 Arrested as North Carolina residents shut down construction at Cliffside coal plant
    At 6:30 a.m., North Carolina residents locked themselves to bulldozers to stop the construction of Duke Energy's massive Cliffside coal-fired power plant being built 50 miles west of Charlotte, N.C. "In the face of catastrophic climate change, building a new coal plant is tantamount to signing a death sentence for our generation," said local farmer Matt Wallace while locked to a bulldozer. The concerned citizens also roped off the construction site with "Global Warming Crime Scene" tape and held banners that read "Coal Fuels Climate Change" and "Social Change, not Climate Change." (more)

  • The magic mouse of Guy Caruso

    Want to kill one coal plant? Use a lawyer.

    Want to kill a hundred? Use a spreadsheet.

    On March 4, without fanfare, a bureaucrat named Guy Caruso caused 132 coal plants to disappear with a wave of his magic mouse.

  • How a twisted definition is setting up a monumental folly in India

    Here is how the World Bank proposes to solve climate change: lend money to build a 4,000-megawatt coal plant in India that will emit 25.7 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. By way of comparison, that's half a million tons more than the worst carbon emitter in North America, the Scherer plant near Macon, Georgia.

    In a weird distortion of logic, Tata Ultra Mega is considered a Clean Development Mechanism by the organization that administers the Kyoto Protocol. This allows industrialized nations to invest in the plant as an alternative to domestic emissions reductions.

    The thinking is that since Tata Ultra Mega uses supercritical coal technology, it will increase the average efficiency of coal use in India. Turns out World Bank policy is to invest in "abatement of climate change impacts" through "investment focus on ... supercritical coal technology, ultra supercritical or subcritical coal technology with energy efficiency higher than [the] existing national average of the sector."

    Do not be deceived by fancy-sounding terms like "supercritical." We're still talking about burning coal, just at higher temperatures and pressures that notch the efficiency of the process upward from about 36 percent to maybe 43 percent.

    The idea that building more coal plants is a step toward "abatement of climate change impacts" could not be sillier, especially since there are baseload technologies available now for solar-rich locations that create zero emissions. In an informative critique of Tata Ultra Mega, Dr. David Wheeler, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, points out that Gujarat, the location of Tata Ultra Mega, is ideal for concentrated solar power (CSP): "India does have a scalable, economically feasible alternative to coal ... [because] the region near Mundra has a huge solar potential and is one of the most sparsely-settled areas in India. Baseload solar power with thermal storage for 24-hour operation is now technically feasible ... "