Tag Archives: Coal

11/15/2011 The Guardian: Coal's dirty secret: it's dying

11/15/2011 The Guardian: Coal’s dirty secret: it’s dying: Protecting uneconomic jobs in a dying industry – coal mining in the UK – is not acceptable. But neither is abandoning workers to the dole, which is where green energy comes in. I spent half my childhood in Fife, surrounded by villages where abandoned coal mines has left nothing behind but unemployment. Walking to school, I remember seeing houses with all the windows smashed in and “scab” daubed in giant letters across the walls. The destruction of an industry is a terrible and traumatic event.

But the call from a right-wing think tank to exempt the UK coal industry from taxes on carbon could not be more wrong-headed. It is mounting a Canute-like stand against the tide, rather than swimming with it.

Carbon emissions have to be curbed to prevent climate chaos and in the UK this is legally binding. For the 6,000 coal workers in the UK, the solution is not to subsidise their jobs in a hopeless attempt to compete with Poland, China and elsewhere. The answer is to re-skill them for the industries of the future: clean, sustainable energy.

Tony Lodge, author of the Centre for Policy Studies report out next month, argues:

This collapse in the market for coal could come as new cleaner coal power stations are possibly under construction by the mid-2020s – or in sight of opening – but by the time they are commissioned the UK coal industry would have effectively ceased to exist.

UK mining still looks after a third of our coal demand, supplying 18.4m tonnes last year, and this is expected to hit 19m tonnes this year. This collapse would lead to Britain needing to import all of its coal demand … It would also lead to the loss of up to 6,000 coal sector jobs.

But the future of “clean” coal in the UK is far from clear. The proposal to build a carbon capture and storage demonstration plant at the coal-fired power station at Longannet has collapsed, due to cost. The smart money now appears to be on CCS partly cleaning up gas, not coal and not anytime soon.

Lodge’s second point – UK coal demand – is also moot. There are no respectable future energy scenarios in which coal use rises – none – and in any case British coal burns dirtier than most imports.

We should also look at where special pleading leads us: to failure. The “past masters” of special pleading are the energy intensive industries – think steel, cement, paper. They lobbied intensely to weaken the European Union’s emission’s trading scheme, and succeeded. As a result they are now reaping billions of Euros in windfalls, but has that protected jobs? No, Tata Steel, which is sucking almost €400m out of the ETS, announced it was sacking 1,500 workers in May.

There’s an unpleasant irony in the Centre for Policy Studies trying to save the UK coal industry: the think tank was founded by Margaret Thatcher who so unflinchingly destroyed its core in the 1980s. Today, protecting uneconomic jobs in a dying industry – coal mining in the UK – is not acceptable, but neither is abandoning those workers to the dole. But the clean, sustainable energy industry is growing in the UK and will need new, skilled staff.

The Chancellor George Osborne put £100m into Scottish renewable energy on 11 November. This was the first glimmer of hope for the green economy since Osborne did his best to trash it in his cynical party conference speech in October.

If the government truly commits to the green economy – in word and deed – then the Green investment bank will be allowed to borrow and drive investment, the Green deal will be allowed to meet the vast need for better energy efficiency and electricity market reform will do more than support nuclear power. And if that happens, there will be many more than 6,000 new jobs in sustainable, growing industries.

9/13/2011 Board recommends removal of Black Mesa coal slurry pipeline

9/13/2011 Board recommends removal of Black Mesa coal slurry pipeline By JIM SECKLER/The Daily News: KINGMAN — The county supervisors recommended Monday the removal of a coal slurry pipeline that stretches across the county. The supervisors recommended the removal of the coal slurry pipeline on public lands in the county at the expense of its owner, Black Mesa Pipeline Inc. The company had sought to relinquish its rights to the pipeline. The pipeline starts on the Navajo reservation and runs east to west across Mohave County crossing through northern Kingman and ending in Bullhead City.

Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport Director David Gaines asked the board to remove several hundred feet of the pipeline, some of it which goes under the airport’s runway and taxiway. He also recommended another section to be sealed in concrete and capped so a firehouse can be built.

One speaker spoke of keeping some of the easement for the pipeline to transport water and possibly fiber optics in the future. However, Mohave County Manager Ron Walker said most of the 40-year-old pipeline is in poor shape and could be a liability to the county.

The pipeline parallels Interstate 40 from Seligman westward then runs through northern Kingman running parallel to Highway 68 through Golden Valley before it crosses the Black Mountains and into Bullhead City to Laughlin.

The 273-mile coal slurry pipeline fed into the now defunct Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin that was shut down in December 2005. The 40-year-old power plant’s 500-foot smoke stack was demolished in March.

When MGS was in operation, the coal was mixed with water and pumped through the pipeline from the mines on the Navajo reservation to MGS. The water was extracted from the slurry and the coal was burned to fuel the plant’s turbines.

Grist: Solar could be as cheap as coal by end of decade

Grist: Solar could be as cheap as coal by end of decade by Christopher Mims: A report from the Chinese government asserts that solar power will be as cheap as coal by 2015. Industry watchers have already predicted that the cost of solar will drop by half by 2020, putting it at parity with coal-fired power. And solar is already competitive on sunny days when utilities pay a premium for “peak” power.

But what’s it all mean? Revolution, baby. “Grid parity” — the point at which the choice between fossil fuels and renewables is a shrug and a coin toss — has been the Holy Grail of this industry ever since Jimmy Carter asked America to put on a sweater in order to protect everyone else from the lust in its heart. All other things being equal, grid parity is the point at which all our new electricity production infrastructure switches from dead dinosaur juice to sunbeams and breezes.

Of course, even at grid parity, all other things will most certainly not be equal. We’ll still have to contend with the intermittency of renewables, and that’s a whole other cost structure to work out. But still!

straight to the source: Solar Could be as Cheap as Coal by 2015, Chinese Report Says, TreeHugger

Durango Telegraph: EPA cracks down on San Juan Generating Station

Durango Telegraph: EPA cracks down on area power plantOne of the Four Corners biggest polluters is in line for a make-over. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules that will require “modern controls” for the San Juan Generating Station. Not surprisingly, Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM), the power plant’s owner, has objected to the new ruling and is already planning an appeal. Located just west of Farmington, the San Juan Generating Station has been burning coal to generate electricity for more than 40 years. The plant also produces 16,000 tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions each year and is ranked as the ninth dirtiest coal-fired plant in the West. Nitrogen oxide not only creates haze, it is a primary ingredient in ground-level ozone, “the most widespread pollutant in the United State (and) one of the most dangerous,” according to the American Lung Association. Ozone has been linked with asthma attacks, respiratory problems, lung damage and premature death.

The EPA rule announced last Thursday will require the addition of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) pollution controls on the plant’s four boilers in the next five years. The upgrade is expected to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent. The announcement is also a landmark and the EPA’s first federal plan in the country to limit nitrogen oxide emissions under the Clean Air Act. Watchdogs and conservationists hailed the move as a victory.

“We are pleased that EPA has done right in this precedent setting rule-making for the communities adversely affected by continued reliance on energy export coal-derived electricity,” said Mike Eisenfeld, of San Juan Citizens Alliance. “The true costs of relying on coal are coming to bear, and PNM is being held accountable for their pollution.”

The State of New Mexico and PNM take a dimmer view and had been lobbying for a different approach to pollution control at the San Juan Generating Station. However, their plan would have cut nitrogen oxide emissions by just 20 percent. The company is now arguing that the EPA’s plan will be an undue burden on New Mexico customers and is planning to appeal the decision.

“The EPA plan adds unnecessary costs to one of our lowest-cost sources of reliable power,” said Pat Themig, PNM vice president of generation. “If it stands, it will lead to significantly higher future electric rates for the 2 million customers who rely on the plant for reasonably priced power.”

Themig added that the EPA plan will require expenditures in excess of $750 million, while PNM’s would have cost just $77 million. The State of New Mexico concurred and in June approved the lower cost option at San Juan.

“The Clean Air Act gives each state the authority to implement a regional haze program appropriate for the state, and New Mexico exercised this authority when it approved its own plan in June,” Themig said. “EPA’s decision does not relieve it of legal responsibility to fully consider New Mexico’s plan.”

Eisenfeld countered that Themig’s argument is beside the point and argued that the company should be exploring 21st century technology and abandoning its reliance on coal-fired power.

“PNM could be transitioning to more sustainable energy forms in the Four Corners region that more readily reflect current renewable energy technologies rather than retrofitting 1970s archaic coal plants at continued high cost to our communities,” he said.

Donna House, of Diné CARE, a Navajo conservation organization, agreed. “Pollution from this plant has been hurting our communities for generations,” she said. “Cutting coal pollution is a must, and moving to a cleaner energy than coal is the real answer.”

6/20/2011 DRAFT Navajo Nation Energy Policy-Please submit comments

Please check out the Navajo Nation DRAFT Energy Policy. The Navajo Nation believes coal and coal-fired plants are a significant component of the Navajo economy and the Nation’s revenues. Please send comments to michelle@navajonationmuseum.org . The draft Navajo Nation energy policy is available for download at www.navajo-nsn.gov

6/28/2011 Gallup Independent: Coal key part of Navajo draft energy policy

6/28/2011 Gallup Independent: Coal key part of Navajo draft energy policy By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau NEHAHNEZAD, N.M – The Navajo Nation has unveiled a draft energy policy that includes coal as a key component of the Nation’s energy mix while not closing the door to future uranium mining and nuclear power. Members of Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly’s Energy Advisory Committee unveiled the draft energy policy June 22 at Nenahnezad Chapter. A public meeting is set for 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Howard Johnson in Gallup, and 6-9 p.m. Thursday at the UNM Student Union, SUB Theater, in Albuquerque. Additional public meetings were held last week in Shonto, Cameron and Phoenix. “We have an energy policy that was adopted by the Navajo Nation Council in 1980 and then from that period of time there have been various policies that have been developed by different administrations,” Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said. “Some of those policies were presented to the Navajo Nation Council but never approved.” The new draft also will be presented to Council and if adopted, Shelly’s initiative will be the framework for future Navajo energy development.

“We think this is important. It’s the livelihood of the Navajo Nation,” Fred White, executive director of the Division of Natural Resources, said.

Coal and coal-fired plants are a significant component of the Navajo economy and the Nation’s revenues, according to the draft. As a coal producer that derives a significant amount of royalties, rent, fees, jobs and tax revenue from coal mining and production of electricity from coal, the Nation will seek to shape federal fossil fuel legislation and adapt to the new federal regulatory environment, it states.

In addition, Navajo will support newer and more efficient coal technologies being developed which lessen environmental impacts and maximize the efficient use of Navajo coal. The Nation also will continue to develop a renewable portfolio of power generating facilities that balances coal-fired generation and renewable energy generation, and will evaluate the appropriateness of implementing a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

Section 9, on nuclear matters, states that the Nation currently supports a ban on uranium mining in Navajo Indian Country. “The Nation nonetheless will continue to monitor uranium mining technologies and techniques, as well as market conditions for uranium mining and nuclear electricity generation to assess the safety, viability and potential of these activities for the future.”

Michele Morris, Shelly’s director for Policy and Management, said, “Right now we are not entertaining any new development in uranium. President Shelly and Vice President (Rex Lee) Jim’s priority for the administration currently is to comply with our existing law, which is the moratorium on uranium mining. Our goal is to comply with that until the public or the Council – the bodies that be – make the decision to change that decision.”

The Navajo Nation approved the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005 banning uranium mining and processing within reservation borders. Nearly 4 million tons of uranium ore was extracted from 1944 to 1986 under lease agreements with the Navajo Nation. In 2007, with the help of a congressional committee, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency became the lead federal agency in a five-year plan to clean up more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, contaminated groundwater and structures, and a former radioactive dump site. Emergency cleanup action has begun at three abandoned mines while assessments continue.

The draft energy policy calls for the Nation to establish energy corridors to manage the impact on Navajo communities resulting from future electrical transmission, pipeline and railroad infrastructure. This new infrastructure will provide Navajo an opportunity to unlock the value of its vast energy resources by providing transmission corridors to metropolitan centers.

A Navajo Energy Office made up of Executive Branch officials selected by the president is proposed to be established to act as a clearinghouse for energy-related projects and to facilitate energy development. A budget also must be appropriated.

White said that that last spring the Nation decided to re-energize the energy policy planning process. In partnership with the Department of Energy, an Energy Efficiency grant was obtained and a scope of work developed. Sandia National Laboratory was asked to facilitate meetings with stakeholders. Meetings were held in July, September and October with industries focused on fossil fuels and renewables, as well as Navajo leaders and individuals concerned about the environment.

A chronological order of energy decisions dating to 1923-24 as developed. They looked at work done in the 1970s that resulted in an Energy Policy adopted by the tribal Council in 1980, work done by former President Peterson Zah in the early 1990s that resulted in an energy policy statement, and work done by White’s predecessor, Arvin Trujillo.

But last October they hit a wall, bogged down by election year politics. “Nobody was interested in talking about energy policy,” White said. It was put on hold until the new administration and the 24-member Council settled in.

“The decision was to take the policy from the ’80s that was already adopted by Council and use that format and make amendments to it,” White said.

Steven Gundersen of Tallsalt Advisors in Scottsdale is serving as a consultant on development of the policy. Gundersen presented the draft to a small but curious audience at Nenahnezad, some of whom drove at least four hours from Cameron to hear the presentation.

“The policies are intended to be rather brief and rather broad,” he said. “The energy policies are directions we want to move in but are not laws.”

Tsosie said comments received from the public are “suggestions” that will be reviewed but not necessarily included in the document. “The reason for that is that the Navajo people elected certain representatives to establish policy for them and that body is the Navajo Nation Council and the president of the Navajo Nation. So this policy-setting effort is under delegation from the people to those elected officials.

“We are drafting the policy pursuant to those delegations. We’re not actually making laws. These will not be codified in the Navajo Nation Code, but it’s a document that we will use in making decisions regarding energy development on the Navajo Nation,” he said. Council first must rescind the 1980 Energy Policy.

Citing the preamble to the proposed policy, Gundersen said the Nation is establishing the energy policy to protect its natural resources and assets for the benefit of the Dine to create a self-sustaining economic future and to ensure sovereign control over the extraction and flow of resources.

Lease rent, royalty rates and charges for easements and rights of way will be equal to or greater than fair market value. When negotiating renewals, the Nation will maximize the total value of consideration. Project developers will be required to return the land to its original condition, or better, at the end of the project.

The Nation hopes to maximize revenues from large-scale energy developments by promoting Navajo majority ownership, but may designate an entity such as Navajo Tribal Utility Authority as its representative. Communities impacted by energy development will have the opportunity to provide input, and where adversely impacted, to share in a portion of the financial benefits of such projects.

Members of the Energy Advisory Committee include White, Tsosie, Raymond Benally, Stephen B. Etsitty, Martin Ashley, Akhtar Zaman, Albert Damon, Raymond Maxx, Mike Halona and Irma Roanhorse. Michele Henry is the administrator for the Energy Advisory Committee and Energy Office.

Deadline for comment originally was scheduled for July 15, but Morris said they are adding four town hall meetings and extending the comment period to the end of July. There is no deadline mentioned in the announcement from the Navajo Energy Office and no schedule posted on the new meetings. Comments may be sent to michelle@navajonationmuseum.org . The policy is available for download at www.navajo-nsn.gov .

5/31/2011 NRDC Would You Like Cancer-causing or Brain-poisoning Pollution With That Electricity?

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Staff Blog by Pete Altman: Hundreds of people have said no to toxic pollution from power plants near them by attending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearings. The last one is today in Atlanta — if you can’t make it, support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies cut the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases & other nasty stuff they release into the air by TAKING ACTION: http://b/ Next time you flip on the light switch, how would you respond if a little voice asked you “Thanks for your order. Would you like cancer with your electricity? How about some brain-poison?” Weird question, right? Unfortunately, power companies are one of the biggest toxic polluters in the US, dumping millions of pounds of cancer-causing, brain-poisoning toxins like arsenic and mercury into the air each year. The toxins are found in the coal that is burned to supply about ½ of our nation’s electricity.

This week, hundreds of people have shown up to hearings in Philadelphia and Chicago organized by the US Environmental Protection Agency to say “no thanks” to toxic pollution from power plants, and support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies reduce the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases and other nasty stuff they release into the air.

(To let the EPA know you support reducing toxic pollution from power plants, take action here.)

As the Associated Press explained,

Several hundred people, from environmentalists and physicians to mothers and fishermen, testified before a panel of federal environmental officials on Tuesday to urge the passage of proposed new standards to limit the amount of air pollution that coal-fired power plants can release into the atmosphere.”

One those physicians was Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the poison control center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who said

Young children are uniquely vulnerable to the toxic effects of environmental poisons such as mercury and arsenic. These compounds are especially dangerous to the developing brain and nervous system.

Some of the speakers pulled no punches. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported,

Rabbi Daniel Swartz leaned toward the microphone at Tuesday’s hearing on proposed federal rules to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

By allowing emissions to continue, “we have, in effect, subsidized the poisoning of fetuses and children,” the Scranton rabbi said.

In Chicago, a similar scene unfolded, as the Chicago Tribune reported, with supporters of limiting toxic air pollution coming out in force, as noted by Chicago radio station WBEZ:

Midwesterners who testified at a public hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed EPA plan.”

One of those speaking in Chicago was NRDC’s Shannon Fisk, who focused on the critical need for EPA to act swiftly to reduce toxic pollution, saying,

[Some] in industry are pushing EPA to delay …my question to these agents of delay is how much is enough. How many lives are they willing to sacrifice in order to have even more time to install pollution controls that have been available for decades?”

Polling shows that throughout the nation, Americans strongly support reducing toxic air pollution from industrials sources. A February 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling revealed that 66% of Americans support “requiring stricter limits on the amount of toxic chemicals such as mercury lead and arsenic that coal power plants and other industrial facilities release.”

The EPA’s final hearing on the toxics rules is in Atlanta today. But going to a hearing isn’t the only way for concerned citizens to weigh in.

If you’d like to say “no thanks” to cancer-causing and brain-poisoning toxins from power plants, send a comment directly to the EPA in support of the toxics proposals by using our quick and easy action page.

4/4/2011 CENSORED NEWS Navajo President Ben Shelly: Another sellout politician for coal fired power plants

CENSORED NEWS Monday, April 4, 2011: Navajo President Ben Shelly: Another sellout politician for coal fired power plants, Mr. Shelly goes to ‘Washindon’ Gives Mixed Messages in Bizarre Testimony By Dine’ Care. Dine’ Citizens Against Ruining our Environment. On April Fool’s Day, 2011, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly testified at an oversight hearing held by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs in Washington, D.C. on “Tribal Development of Energy and the Creation of Energy Jobs on Indian Lands.”

In a rambling, inconsistent, and grammatically challenged seven-page statement, Shelly claims to favor a “multi-prong” approach to energy development as the answer to Navajo poverty and unemployment. He takes a passing sniff at wind and solar potential, but then circles back to the familiar poisoned trough of good ol’ dirty coal, even raising the ghost of Desert Rock.

This is where Shelly’s script really gets mixed up, starting with plagiarism and going downhill from there. He begins by cutting and pasting language from the San Juan Citizens Alliance web site, including the fact that most of the electricity that would have come out of the Desert Rock Energy Project, was “slated for Tucson/Phoenix and the Las Vegas markets. [Only] a small percentage, up to 5%, of the proposed power from Desert Rock would stay on the Navajo Nation, where many citizens continue to live without electricity.”

This was just one of the many compelling arguments against Desert Rock, but in Shelly’s nonsensical cut and paste world, who cares? He tosses in a reference to “Clean Coal Technology” and thousands of jobs, both of which are pure fantasy, and calls it good.

First of all, it is troubling that an elected leader and spokesman of America’s largest Indian nation would stoop to such a low, unprofessional level of plagiarism and intellectual property theft while testifying before an official Congressional body. Secondly, it confirms up-until-now whispered rumors that the Navajo tribal president hasn’t had an original thought since Jesus was a little boy. And third and most distressing is the fact that his public testimony was recklessly conceived in nature and wildly inaccurate upon delivery in a number of highly important policy areas as regards critical Navajo energy and water futures.

During his vice presidency, Shelly supported Desert Rock until he announced his presidential candidacy. Then he said he opposed it. And now that he is president he is supporting it again, or at least that’s what he told the congressional subcommittee under oath. What about all the Navajo people who voted for him last year because he said that he opposed DR? The truth is that he lied to them–the Navajo voting majority—and that’s no April Fool’s joke.

“Clean Coal Technology” (CCT) is a technological myth. There is no such thing as clean coal–just like there is no such thing as clean uranium. In fact, strip mining and burning coal activates and releases as much if not more deadly radioactive materials into the environment than mining and milling uranium. So if he supports the continuation of the Navajo Nation uranium ban because of its radioactive dangers–as he testified–then he should also support a Navajo Nation-wide ban on coal for the same reason.

We, Diné CARE, have the renewable energy plan that would actually fulfill Ben Shelly’s campaign promise to bring clean renewable solar and wind power to our energy- deprived and suffering people, who are forced to burn dirty and dangerous coal in their woodstoves. In order to make that happen we would be more than willing to work in true partnership with the Silly and Shim administration. But first, he needs to stop sending out people like Steven Etsitty to openly blame the innocent Navajo victim for “causing” indoor air pollution before all those white people in the EN3 farce.

Speaking of shameful acts, Shelly should be ashamed for approving the recent Four Corners Power Plant lease extension for a mere $7 million a year until 2041 (or is it 2064–the year he quoted to Congress?). The CEO of Arizona Public Service Company makes over $5 million a year alone, yet our tribal leaders, who are working furiously to bargain their way out of corruption charges, betrayed us and sold out our precious future generations for a box of beads and trinkets.

Equally shameful is our government’s and Mr. Shelly’s rejection of SCR pollution control at Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Generating Station. Instead he spoke of “a phased approach to emissions reductions for the plants, in coordination with the glide path from 2004 to 2064.” A sixty year soft landing for our leaders’ industry friends. Meanwhile, how many hundreds or thousands of our Diné people will sicken and die from sixty years of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and the other poisons coming out of those stacks?

The Navajo Nation has no energy policy because of tribal leadership failure. APS controls our energy future. All the off-reservation, non-Indian power company had to do was threaten to close the Four Corners Power Plant if the tribe did not renew its lease. And because of the threat, it got its way. That’s not tribal sovereignty. That’s economic blackmail. Salt River project is threatening to do the same thing with the Navajo Generating Station lease. That too is extortion by a non-Navajo energy corporation, but we can probably count on our President going to bat for these SRP thugs too.

Mr. President, during your presidential campaign, you and your running mate said that both of you opposed the proposed Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement, and its NGS Water Provisions. Those provisions install forever the illegal waiver of Navajo water rights to the Arizona portion of the Upper Colorado River Basin. But now that you are both in office, you haven’t acted to rescind the agreement that you said you opposed. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? A copy-cat, perhaps?

Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment
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Note: Please send an e-mail for a pdf copy of President Shelly’s 8-page testimony: Censored News, Brenda Norrell, brendanorrell@gmail.com