The coal hard truth
It’s Thursday, March 28, and the war on coal rages on.
All is not well in the world of King Coal, as evidenced by three major U.S. developments this week. Check it out:
- Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis utility worth $30 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”), recently became the first power company in the nation to set a goal of reaching 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2050. Xcel has already shuttered a quarter of its coal plants, and plans to close another quarter soon. I’m no mathematician, but a quarter plus a quarter equals half, and that’s a lot.
- The Navajo Nation, which has depended on mining and selling coal for more than 50 years, is considering going in a greener direction. A proposal currently being considered by the tribe would direct the Navajo Nation Department of Justice to craft a new energy policy that is centered around transitioning to more renewable energy sources. Two mines in Navajo territory have already closed.
- In 2018, Dominion Energy, a Virginia-based power company that serves nearly 7.5 million people, put 10 of its coal-fired units in the proverbial fridge to see whether the market for coal would warm back up. It didn’t, so now the utility is shuttering them for good.
How’s that for a good news roundup? Happy Thursday.
The U.S. military is starting to feel the effects of climate change. On Wednesday, the Air Force asked Congress for nearly $5 billion to repair two bases damaged by hurricanes and flooding. And, on the heels of that request, the Pentagon recently released a list of military bases most at risk to climate change. The kicker: The two Air Force bases aren’t even on the Pentagon’s list.
Dirty air isn’t just bad for your physical health. New research shows air pollution can take a toll on mental health, too, specifically in young people. The study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that adolescents living in areas with elevated levels of nitrogen oxides — a group of gases that can cause respiratory problems, among other harmful effects — are at a 70 percent higher risk of experiencing symptoms like paranoia and hearing voices.
In more mental health news: Massive drought in Australia is taking a toll on Aussies. Suicide numbers are spiking in regions worst affected by drought, the Washington Post reports. And climate models predict that longer droughts are ahead.