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Posts Tagged ‘coal’

Five Things You Should Know about the EPA Power Plant Carbon Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to release draft carbon standards for existing coal and natural gas power plants on June 2. Here are five things you should know about why they could be a climate game changer if they are strong: Read More

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The Economic Impacts of Future Coal Production in West Virginia

Last month colleagues and I published a paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters, focusing on the economic impacts of future coal production on West Virginia. Using scenarios for projected coal production published by the Energy Information Administration in its Annual Energy Outlook, we set out to understand how these projections might impact the economy of West Virginia, the second largest coal-producing state in the United States. Read More

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West Virginia’s Chemical Spill: The Cost of Coal Isn’t Cheap

My parents live only a couple miles upstream of the site of last month’s West Virginia chemical spill. Like many other local residents, they continue to drink bottled water amid ongoing confusion and uncertainty about the safety of the area’s water supply. Some people in the region have even resorted to melting snow to bathe their kids. Read More

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Overreliance on Natural Gas: Risky for the Climate and the Economy

In last week’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Obama reiterated his support for climate science by unequivocally stating “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” He also should be commended for highlighting the urgency of the problem as local communities are already experiencing damaging and costly climate impacts like drought, wildfires, heat waves, and coastal flooding.

But the President’s enthusiasm for increasing natural gas production and use as an important climate solution missed the mark. And like his climate action plan speech at Georgetown University last June, the President highlighted the economic benefits of increasing U.S. natural gas production, while failing to mention the economic risks of an overreliance on natural gas. Read More

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Is the Water Safe? The West Virginia Chemical Spill and the Importance of Scientists’ Speaking to the Media

When news broke last week that West Virginia’s Elk River had been contaminated with the coal-processing chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), attention quickly turned to the scientists who could help the public understand what was at stake. With the spill just upstream of a treatment plant supplying water to 300,000 West Virginians, the questions were pressing: What was known about MCHM? Is my health and that of my family and pets at risk? Should I worry about the odor? These questions and many more arose from citizens, reporters, and decision makers. But as the event unfolded, we saw that scientists weren’t always given a chance to answer them. Read More

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Even as Coal Use Declines, Most States Are Still Dependent on Coal Imports

The use of coal to produce electricity in the United States has been declining in recent years. Yet for most states still heavily dependent on coal-fired power, the cost of importing coal continues to be a drain on local economies. According to a new Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis, 37 states were net importers of coal in 2012, paying a total of $19.4 billion to import 433 million tons of coal from other states and even some foreign countries. Instead of sending billions of ratepayer dollars out of those states year after year, consumers would be better served by investing more in local renewable energy development and energy efficiency measures. Read More

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The Hidden Costs of “Cheap” Electricity in West Virginia

Today, residents of nine West Virginia counties—including my parents—are without water because of a spill from a chemical storage container near a water treatment plant on the Elk River in Charleston. The spill affected some 200,000 people, who were advised to avoid using their tap water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, even bathing. Read More

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Beyond Coal and Natural Gas: What’s the Way Forward for West Virginia?

Last evening West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin gave his annual State of the State address (transcript) to a joint session of the state legislature. His focus on investing in the future of the Mountain State was very encouraging, but he missed an opportunity to go further. Read More

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Toward a Clean Energy Future: 7 Top Reasons to Celebrate 2013

The last 12 months have brought a lot of change to the world — some good, some less so; some too fast, some too slow. But in the energy space, the essential transition to energy that is cleaner, healthier, lower-cost, and more secure is definitely underway in the U.S. This year, we saw strong signals that we’re moving in the right direction on energy, with renewables like wind and solar (going up), coal (going down), renewables integration (looking good), and energy storage (on its way). Here’s a look at some of the year’s highlights. Read More

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Ripe for Retirement: Examining the Competitiveness of U.S. Coal Plants

This is Part One of a 3-Part Blog Series.

Today, the Union of Concerned Scientists released an update of our 2012 ground-breaking analysis, Ripe for Retirement, examining the economic viability of U.S. coal generators compared with modern, cleaner alternatives. Our new findings, published in Electricity Journal, show that nearly 59 gigawatts (GW) of coal power capacity are not cost competitive when compared with natural gas, and more than 71 GW are uneconomic when compared with wind power. These coal generators are prime candidates for retirement and their closure would provide substantial benefits for consumers and the environment. It would also accelerate the transition to a cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy system. Read More

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