If you're in the anti-coal movement, then you've likely been a long-time admirer of the Sierra Club's efforts to stop new coal plant construction. Last week, Intermountain Power's coal plant in Utah became the 100th new coal plant to be stopped or abandoned since 2001, a truly amazing feat. So without these new coal plants, the country must be experiencing rolling blackouts and be living by candle light, right? Not quite. According to the Sierra Cub, "Last year 42 percent of all new power producing capacity came from wind, and for the first time the wind industry created more jobs than mining coal." And there are now more wind jobs then coal jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Says Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign:
"We are witnessing a remarkable transformation toward a cleaner, healthier, more secure future. At the beginning of the coal rush in 2001, it seemed inevitable that as many as 150 new proposed coal plants would get built. Since then we've seen an incredible change in the way people, businesses and governments-- like Los Angeles-- are thinking about energy, figuring out how to generate and use it more cleanly and efficiently. Coal is no longer a smart or cost-effective option. We can create jobs and electricity through clean energy technology made in America."
Can coal make a comeback? Maybe, and the industry might get some help in the form of the energy and climate bill now moving through Congress. According to Grist, these goodies are in the bill for coal:
--New coal plants could be built between 2009 and 2020, though they would be expected to adopt carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) technologies when they become commercially available
--By 2025, all coal plants built after 2009 would have to capture 50 percent of their CO2 emissions
--Coal plants built after 2020 would have to capture 65 percent of CO2
--Early movers on CCS would be rewarded--for every ton of CO2 it sequesters, an electric utility that gets at least half its power from coal would receive bonus emission permits for 10 years
--$1 billion would go toward CCS demonstration and deployment each year, funded by a fee on consumers of fossil-based electricity