Spending the week with Greenpeace on its Coal Free Future tour was illuminating for a number of reasons. Not only did I get a sneak peak at what I believe will be a crucial part of the next chapter of climate activism, but it was eye-opening to see all the work being done behind the scenes to get the nation off coal. One night in Boston, Greenpeace hosted a VIP reception for various community players in the clean energy and the opposition to coal. They're working to shut down the Salem power plant -- an old, inefficient plant whose owners even want to take offline. So why can't they? Shanna Cleveland of Conservation Law Foundation explains the aggravating situation. Watch above.Catch all that? And here's why, specifically, the plant is still online, belching pollution and emitting greenhouse gases:
So, to recap -- we have an old, inefficient coal-fired power plant. It effectively provides power to the grid 6 or 7 days the entire the year. That power could easily come from another source -- like Cape Wind, the offshore wind farm that will be finished in two years. The rest of the time, it just adds a useless excess to Massachusetts' grid. It's no longer profitable to operate, and its owners want to take it offline. But the state operators and regulators claim that because it provides power security on those few days, and in case there's a major catastrophe, it has to go on burning coal ad infinitum. And so, it goes on burning coal for next to no reason at all.
Bureaucracy is fun!