Coal's Darkest Hour Comes Just Before EPAs New Dawn

Talk about seeing light at the end of the tunnel! The Bush Administration still has a couple of months to wreak havoc on the environment -- and I don't doubt that they'll do just that -- but a decision yesterday in response to legal action by the Sierra Club gave me...well, hope.In a move that signals the start of our clean energy future, the Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) ruled that the EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants.

The decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions -- the source of 30% of our nation's global warming pollution. The decision will halt virtually all new coal plant development until EPA decides how to address global warming pollution from coal plants.

Joanne Spalding, the Sierra Club's Senior Atorney who argued the case, explained that the EAB rejected every Bush Administration excuse for failing to regulate CO2, and that this move gives the Obama Administration a clean slate on this issue.

A little history here: This decision follows a 2007 Supreme Court ruling recognizing carbon dioxide, the principle source of global warming, is a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups went before the Environmental Appeals Board in May of 2008 to request that the air permit for Deseret Power Electric Cooperative’s proposed waste coal-fired power plant be overturned because it failed to require any controls on carbon dioxide pollution. Deseret Power's 110 MW Bonanza plant would have emitted 3.37 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. The decision is a result of that action.

The Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign, has created a chart of proposed coal-fired power plants, along with the status of each one. It's worth checking out -- you might be shocked by how many are actually in the works (and how many we've successfully defeated with the help of organizational partners and local residents). There's also this great Google map of proposed plants.

Says Bruce Nilles, the director of our coal campaign, "Building new coal plants without controlling their carbon emissions could wipe out all of the other efforts being undertaken by cities, states and communities to fight global warming across the country. Everyone has a role to play and it's time that the coal industry did its part and started living up to its clean coal rhetoric. Instead of pouring good money after bad trying to fix old coal technology, investors should be looking to wind, solar and energy efficiency technologies that are going to power the economy, create jobs, and help the climate recover."

Image credit:WikiMedia, London Particular, Claude Monet, London Fog

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Tags: Coal | Electricity

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