Cleaning Up the Capitol: Reid and Pelosi Want to Power DC with 100% Natural Gas

reid pelosi capitol power plant natural gas photo

Photo via Inhabitat

Sen. Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have very publicly put the wheels in motion to stop the famed Capitol Power Plant's dirty coal burning ways. In a move perhaps designed to counter the upcoming massive civil disobedience demonstration, which will protest a lack of action against climate change at the plant, the two high profile Dems have sent a letter to the Acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers. The unmistakable message of the letter? Switch the Capitol Power Plant, which burns around 17,000 tons of coal a year, to 100% natural gas. ASAP.And while it certainly seems like suspiciously good timing—could they have sent the letter at least one whole week before the Susan Sarandon-approved protest was to take place?—this is nonetheless a message the Democratic-run Congress needs to be sending. Obama's Administration and the Democratic Congress are attempting to define themselves with green initiatives like amping up alternative energy and clamping down on coal. They can't very well be getting their steam and water from a dirty, dirty coal plant, can they?

The switch would require a capital expenditure authorization, but could be completed in less than a year—so keep your eyes peeled until early next year to see if the pols are dragging their feet.

Here are some key excerpts from the letter:

The Capitol Power Plant (CPP) continues to be the number one source of air pollution and carbon emissions in the District of Columbia and the focal point for criticism from local community and national environmental and public health groups.

Since there are not projected to be any economical or feasible technologies to reduce coal-burning emissions soon, there are several steps you should take in the short term to reduce the amount of coal burned at the plant while preparing for a conversion to cleaner burning natural gas.

The switch to natural gas will allow the CPP to dramatically reduce carbon and criteria pollutant emissions, eliminating more than 95 percent of sulfur oxides and at least 50 percent of carbon monoxide. The conversion will also reduce the cost of storing and transporting coal as well as the costs associated with cleaning up the fly ash and waste.

We are also interested in identifying and supporting funding to retrofit CPP if necessary so that it can operate on 100 percent natural gas.

Read the whole letter at the Speaker Nancy Pelosi's website.

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