Big Coal To America: 'New US Power Plants Not So Important.'


Plans for several of the hundreds of planned coal-fired power plant additions announced last year are being scaled back. For example, a planned Kansas coal-fired power plant was recently denied a State operating permit mainly because of climate change concerns (see Lloyd's post of today). That example, however, is the exception to the rule of what underlies most of the turnabout. There are two key factors slowing plans for new coal plant construction in the US. One is that the price of building new power plants is skyrocketing due to material shortages; and, the other key factor is that US coal mining and distribution companies now find that more money can be made by selling coal overseas. No need to lobby for more plants (which impacts campaign donations hopefully).

Only an international treaty with carbon tax or cap agreements can curtail the C02 emissions growth still underway. Hence, the important of US Presidential candidate platforms on international climate treaties.

Now that the price of coal is at a historic low relative to oil, there is no stopping consumers and producers alike from embracing Al Gore's nightmare.

A ton of U.S. coal is so inexpensive, at about $47, that European utilities will pay $50 to ship it across the Atlantic, according to Galbraith's, a 263-year-old London ship broker.

Peabody Energy, Consol Energy and Arch Coal, the three biggest U.S. coal companies, forecast the largest increase in exports in 20 years, despite the call for a moratorium on coal plants by Gore, the former U.S. vice president and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Coal use worldwide has grown 27 percent since 2002, three times as fast as the use of crude, according to BP.

"Coal is by far the cheapest fuel because there's no price on how much damage it causes," said John Holdren, a Harvard University professor of environmental science and director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. "Unless you get policies to put a price on carbon dioxide and other emissions, no other plants can compete."

With prices like these, expect plenty more mining disasters and mountain top removals.

Via::International Herald Tribune, "Europe pays to ship U.S. coal as price sinks" Image credit::Desert Dawg, Utah Rainbow Mine

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