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
January 14th, 2014
January 10th, 2014
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
January 9th, 2014
December 19th, 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
December 9th, 2013
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
November 18th, 2013
Last week, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) board of directors voted in favor of retiring 3,300 megawatts (MW) of coal power capacity. This action is good news for consumers and the environment in the region. It also continues the drumbeat of retirement announcements nationwide and provides further evidence of the eroding economic viability of the aging U.S. coal fleet. A recent UCS analysis, Ripe for Retirement, documents why many more U.S. coal generators should also be considered for closure. Read More
October 8th, 2013
The Brayton Point coal plant is shutting down, and that’s a really positive development for a whole lot of reasons.
The new owners of the Somerset, MA, plant let it be known this week that they’d be shutting down Brayton Point by 2017. For the many community members and organizations that have worked for this goal for years, it’s a cause for celebration. But it’s also a great thing for the public at large. Read More
September 17th, 2013
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is a mantra often used by investors who diversify their portfolios to protect against volatility in financial markets. It’s also appropriate for the electricity sector in Ohio, a state that has historically been overdependent on coal and is fast becoming over reliant on both coal and natural gas, leaving consumers vulnerable to volatility in energy markets and many other risks. Renewable energy and energy efficiency can help diversify Ohio’s power mix, and bring safe, clean, reliable, and affordable power to consumers, according to a new UCS report. Why then is the central policy that is successfully supporting these clean energy industries in Ohio under attack? Read More
Power Plant Carbon Standards: The EPA Should Use the Clean Air Act’s Flexibility to Help Reduce Emissions
September 17th, 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be reissuing a draft carbon standard for new power plants on or around September 20. These standards, particularly the one for existing power plants which will be issued in draft form in June 2014, could help reduce carbon emissions significantly if EPA uses existing flexibilities in the Clean Air Act to help ensure a transition away from polluting coal plants to clean sources like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read More
June 28th, 2013
What a week. President Obama delivered a major speech on climate change on Tuesday, directing the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out its obligations under existing law and limit carbon emissions from both new and existing power plants.
As a scientist studying climate change, I’m excited by the President’s leadership. He articulated the reality of the problem that we face, and why it’s so important that we act today to prepare for climate change that’s already locked in and protect future generations by cutting emissions. Read More