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Last week, the Senate narrowly defeated Sen. Lisa Murkowski's "gut the EPA" amendment.  Six Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the amendment, with one of those being Sen. Jay Rockefeller of WV.  In his comments, he said the following:

"I don’t want EPA turning out the lights on America.  I fight for my people. I understand that I’m a United States senator. But I’m a United States senator from West Virginia.  You can’t run this country without coal. I am for all alternative fuels ... but you add them all up, nobody can make the point you can do any of this without coal. We mine coal. I’m elected to protect my people and my country. But first comes my people, and especially on this issue."

Senator, the coal industry is dying, & everyone seems to see it but you.  

Today, Siemens announced a deal to supply five new high-efficiency gas plants to Progress Energy at two sites in North Carolina that have old coal-fired generators. The H.F. Lee Energy Complex, near Goldsboro, has three coal-fired generators that began operating in 1951, 1952 and 1962. The Sutton plant, near Wilmington, has 3 coal-fired generators that went into service in 1954, 1955 and 1972.  Per kilowatt-hour generated, the gas-fired generators will reduce CO2 emissions by 60 percent and nitrogen oxides by 95 percent from levels produced by the coal-fired plants. Nearly 100 percent of sulfur dioxides and all mercury will be eliminated.  Siemens will also provide six gas turbine generators to Florida Power & Light, which will use them to replace generators at Riviera Beach and Cape Canaveral that are able to burn oil or gas.  The new generators will produce far more electricity per cubic foot of gas burned & reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and gases at the same time.

Progress energy made another announcement today.  By the end of 2017, the company intends to permanently shut down all of its remaining N.C. coal-fired power plants that do not have flue-gas desulfurization controls, aka scrubbers.  The utility plans to close a total of 11 coal-fired units, totaling nearly 1,500 megawatts (MW) at four sites in the state-H.F. Lee, L.V. Sutton, Cape Fear near Moncure, & W.H. Weatherspoon near Lumberton.  These plants represent 30% of the company's coal-fired power generation fleet in North Carolina & the closure will result in significant emission reductions, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and other pollutants.

The question for Senator Rockefeller is this: if the people who actually profit from providing electricity have realized that coal is dead, why can't you?  There is no future for coal.  Sure, we will continue to spend money on it, because we need the votes of people like Jay Rockefeller.  But corporate America has soured on it, & they ain't going back.  

West Virgina has another option: wind.  According to the NRDC, West Virginia is well positioned to be a leader in wind energy.  The counties of Pedleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Tucker, Grant, & Preston are especially well positioned to power the state.  Wind power will create jobs.  Wind power will improve the health of the people of WV and the entire nation.  If Senator Rockefeller were really interested in looking out for the people of WV, wouldn't he embrace wind energy?

This isn't just about Rockefeller.  After all, 5 other Dems joined him in that vote.  Ben Nelson & Evan Bayh are from states that could lead in wind energy production.  And Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, & Mary Landrieu are from states that could lead in biomass & biogas.  The problem is that they are so wedded to the past, and to the money those companies who want to preserve the past provide.  A recent study showed that the American Power Act would create 200K jobs per year for the next decade.  Many of those jobs would be created in the states these Senators represent. It is time they lead or get out of the way.

DailyKos Earthship

Originally posted to mark louis on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 02:58 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent job tying together the reality (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, Cedwyn, paige, PinHole, TomP

    of business and the rhetoric of politicians.  Highly recommended.

    Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be -- John Wooden/twittering RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:03:45 PM PDT

    •  I'm not sure the reality here is what you think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, truong son traveler, dskoe

      Although alternative and renewable energy is the future, is isn't the present.  If we make the assumption that we will be going to a non-fossil fuel infrastructure, how do we get there from here?  There isn't any realistic way of getting there without coal and coal miners.  No matter how much Sen. Rockefeller wants to live in a coal-free energy economy, he recognizes that that is probably a generation away.  His constituents sent him to Washington to look out for their interests.  If he doesn't do that, then the people of West Virginia will elect someone who will.

  •  I'm curious. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Partially Impartial

    Has anyone done any estimates of the continuing employment of a wind vs. coal? I realize that wind power creates jobs, but how long do those jobs remain after the intial setup of the farm?

    •  Well, there would be less jobs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      since you don't need to mine wind.  You do need maintenence people.  But there would be a massive number of jobs created in building the wind farms.  And, you could create large numbers of permanent jobs through biofuels, biomass, & biogas.

      "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum."

      by mark louis on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:07:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It seems like an important number (0+ / 0-)

        to get across to people. I think that some feel that moving to wind would wipe out employment overnight and it would be a good thing to be able to show them that impression is wrong.

    •  I think they will require maintenance (0+ / 0-)

      And there are so many to be built.  I have to ask if people think are energy demand will go up or down in the future?  We need every windmill we could ever build, and then we'd still need more!

      They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

      by yet another liberal on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:13:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Turbines become more effecient over time (0+ / 0-)

        Each windmill will need to be upgrades ever 5 years or so. The best part about wind, beyond not needing fuel, is that when their lifetime of service is finished, windmills can be taken down, and most of the parts can be recycled. Mountaintops look just as beautiful as before.

        "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

        by greendem on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 04:04:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong question; you keep building wind farms (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greendem, PinHole

      Wind farms can be built up and down both coasts, in the Great Lakes, all across the Great Plains (especially Nebraska), along with countless small enclaves in mountainous areas throughout the country, including Appalachia.

      Appalachian Wind Turbines, Inc. wouldn't just build one wind farm and call it a day. You build one, then build more, and more and more, everywhere you can get a permit and everywhere a wind farm of some configuration can generate a profit. You constantly develop new turbine designs and new materials in order to build wind turbines cheaper and faster and generate more power from them, and you constantly replace the wind turbines in the windiest locations with the best technology, and reinstall your old amortized models in viable but less profitable locations.

      •  So you're arguing that the continuing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        employment would be greater? Lesser? What?

        I agree with you about the potentials for wind farming, but you haven't answered what I believe is the question on W. Va.'s mind.

        •  The employment could be greater (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greendem, Indexer

          If we're willing to see the true potential in wind power and work at the nationwide and mass-production scale that potential justifies, then wind farm jobs are permanent.

          If we aim low at what we think we can get, then we'll end up with a venture that won't inspire anyone, won't generate anywhere near as much energy and profit as it could, and when it's done, won't grow into anything bigger, and only plod along with maintenance crews until the equipment becomes old and unprofitable and the whole thing is shut down.

      •  So instead of removing mountaintops.... (0+ / 0-) mine coal out of them, we're clear-cutting them so we can put a massive wind farm on every hill?

        "Everywhere a wind farm of some configuration can generate a profit" would suggest just that.

        What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

        by mistersite on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:47:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not even close (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Here's a map of wind power potential in the United States. Actually, compare that to a more generic map of wind speeds. Appalachia isn't the best location.

          The best sites for wind farms in the United States are offshore. Second best are the Great Lakes. Third best is the Great Plains. The first two have no trees to cut down, and the biggest and therefore most efficient wind turbines are much taller than any tree, except perhaps the giant redwoods in California. Remember also that virtually the entire Great Plains is currently being used for farmland (corn doesn't grow much taller than a person), and never was forest in the first place.

          There's lots of room to put ex-coal miners (and ex-car builders) to work building wind turbines that don't involve cutting down even a single tree.

    •  Coal Runs Out Too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What do the miners do when the coal resources in their particular area run out?  Sure, the mine company can move on to a different location, but the miners in that area are not going to be moved to a different location.  It's too easy to forget that a fuel like coal is a wasting asset and it get's accounted for accordingly.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:36:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So I guess we're going to use PA's gas instead (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    too lazy to look it up, but I'm sure the some alert DailyKosser's remember last week's rec'd diary about that (i.e., about a huge spill of one type or another!)!

    •  Natural gas is a bridge (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, JML9999, Indexer

      In my view.  It is cleaner than coal, so it is a good option until we can really ramp up the renewable sources.

      "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum."

      by mark louis on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:12:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We could really ramp up renewable sources (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        right now if we wanted to.

        Instead, NG provides a convenient bridge to nowheres . . .

        •  We do need bootstrapping power (0+ / 0-)

          Because we have to mine the steel and copper to make the windmills.

          Similar for PV, need lots of heat to cook the silicon.

          I so hope we don't burn up all the gas just driving to and from work instead of using it as fuel to bootstrap clean energy supply.

          They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

          by yet another liberal on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:29:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That sounds like the argument I hear from (0+ / 0-)

            time to on this site that a nuclear power plant must operate for 17 years before the energy used in it's construction is "repaid"

            That's highly dubious.

            In any event, the EROI for wind turbines is approximately 20:1.  Therefore, as long as we get the first one built, we'll be able to build 20 more!  And then 400!! and then 8,000!!!  Soon they take over the planet.  Yikes.

    •  Marcellus Shale gas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is already coming from WV and as far north as near the shores of Lake Ontario in NY.  The question is will the people in PA, WV & NY have the courage to police the extraction without ruining the water table, and dumping the probably toxic remains in the area, or anywhere?

      Also in northern WVa there are already instances of companies promising jobs, but they bring in specialized labor from out of state, the trucks churn up and ruin roads, to the point that residents can't get to their homes, kids to schools, local fire trucks & ambulances to the sick & injured. A relatively poor, small (2,000) community can't afford to build & maintain roads in hilly terrain that equals the carrying capacity of Interstates.

      The states have to insist upon these companies building up the infrastructure and providing adequate environmental controls.  WVa & PA don't have a very good track record on this.

      If Rockefeller would lead on these issues, we'd feel a whole lot better about him.  He knows better.  

      •  so will that new guy.... (0+ / 0-)

        in district 1 on the Dem side do better?  They are all terrified about cap and trade- so shutting them down would be a real shock.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 04:48:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Have no idea (0+ / 0-)

          Unwillingly, unwittingly we got dragged into the Marcellus shale mess this past year due to a ghost of incompetent lawyers 50 & 25 yrs ago.  It's bad enough that ancestral lands, bought at great cost 100 yrs ago, are being trashed and ruined.

          Just dealing with that from out of state has been bad enough, let along worrying about WVa's cap & trade situation.  

  •  Conversion Process question. (0+ / 0-)

    will use them to replace generators

    The word "Replace"

    So is there a process where a Coal fired power plant is "Retrofitted" to burn Natural Gas or is this a case of a tear down and build new in it's place?

    Afghanistan:Graveyard to empires-It's not just a bumpersticker

    by JML9999 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:12:43 PM PDT

    •  It's entirely new equipment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      So I'm guessing they tear down the coal plants rather than retrofit them.

      "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum."

      by mark louis on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:14:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Go Combined Cycle? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        With steam turbines as old as the units described in the article, one might be surprised that the utility isn't deciding to adopt a combined cycle approach to the entire system.  In this case, one can run the exhaust from the gas turbines through a waste heat boiler to produce steam to power the steam turbine already at the facility.  Using enough gas turbines of the right size would enable the utility to produce almost as much power from steam turbine as when it had been running on coal, for no additional fuel cost.  I suspect the utility's operating engineers will be just as glad to get rid of those dinosaurs though.  Finding spare parts for 60 year old equipment gets dicey.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:32:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Equipment Replacement (3+ / 0-)

      A gas-fired gas turbine system would totally replace the equipment found at an old coal-fired steam turbine facility.  A power generation gas turbine runs like those jet engines you see on an aircraft, especially the big turbo-prop commuter planes.  You burn the gas inside the engine and draw power off the turbine to produce electricity, just as if you would be turning a propeller.  The utility might decide to place the gas turbines inside the building housing the current steam turbines, but that does not affect the gas turbines' operation.  

      In a coal-fired steam plant, the coal is burned inside a boiler system, which heats water to produce the steam that runs the turbine and generator.  You might be able to switch over a coal-fired boiler to gas-firing, but boilers are designed specifically for particular fuels, even the types of coal they use (heat content, moisture, ash, etc.).  So, the boiler tube sizing and spacing and clearance differ on the type of fuel.  A converted boiler system could be made to work, but it likely would not be as efficient burning its initially intended fuel.

      Some of the gas-fired gas turbines are designed to use gas derived from coal through gassification processes.  The gas units cited in the referenced article appear to use natural gas supplies.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:28:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The American Power Act (0+ / 0-)

    The Act attacks Coal-fired generation with new nuclear, not new natural gas. The Act specifically does not credit merchant power generators for moving from coal to natural gas. Your diary and tags "somehow" not mentioning the word "nuclear" even once reminds me of a similarly dishonest blog post by Senator Kerry in here announcing the Act.

    •  This isn't about the American Power Act (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greendem, theran, Joffan

      Specifically, it's about the end of the coal era.  But I would support new nuclear power plants if they utilize new technology.  

      "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum."

      by mark louis on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:15:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, I wondered why you added that tag (0+ / 0-)

        which was very responsive of you, but not really necessary (although it brought me here, so it's all good!)

        Naturally new nuclear plants will use new technology. Even upgrades in existing plants use new technology. But I suspect you mean something other than that simple fact.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 07:01:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  So I'm wondering (0+ / 0-)

      The bill allocates money for nuclear power plants.  Would that be spent on actually building them or in court trying to get clearance to build them?

      They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

      by yet another liberal on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:16:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the environmentalists would drop... (0+ / 0-)

        ...their knee-jerk myopic anti-nuclear NIMBY stance, getting clearance in court for this form of low-carbon power would be a little easier.

        Just sayin'.

        What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

        by mistersite on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:49:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If the nice considerate people who keep screaming (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          NUCLEAR would ever figure out a good long term way to deal with the waste, then maybe the evil environmentalists would be able to back off a bit.

          Just sayin.....

          •  Sure, no problem (0+ / 0-)

            although remember that the federal government decided it was the only one allowed to do this, so there's been no great push from the industry.

            I should mention that while your challenge is reasonable, it often turns into a moving target as propounded by opponents of nuclear power.

            Connecticut Yankee nuclear plant operated for 31 years: here is all its spent fuel, safely stored. 43 concrete blocks (actually 40 of spent fuel) that require no active operation. That will be fine for at least a lifetime. The money to take it to final disposal was already charged as part of the cost of the electricity and given to the government.

            Final disposal underground, or via burn-up in a fast-spectrum reactor, is feasibel  - the technical issues are solved. The Swedish waste disposal group has an approved method of burial. The EBR-II was used as a demonstration proptotype of a waste burner.

            This is not a sig-line.

            by Joffan on Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 06:54:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, you do understand that the "lifetime" of (0+ / 0-)

              this fuel is far longer than our lifetimes, right?

              Also, the storage location looks like a relatively pristine place, excellent place to keep it. :(

              The Swedish proposal looks interesting, but far too expensive for our American corporations to pursue.

              •  What is the lifetime of (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                mercury released by coal into the environment?  It doesn't decay with a half-life... What about all the billions of tons of CO2, etc.

                Without context, talking about the horrors of waste is meaningless.  Nuclear waste stacked up against emissions to create / operate any other option looks piddling in comparison.  This is thanks to the nearly 50,000,000:1 energy density advantage (energy from fissioning one atom vs. oxidizing one atom of carbon).  

                Remember, we have known for decades how to "burn" spent fuel (transuranic compounds) and make use of depleted U.  If we are that concerned about the waste, it would be more logical to pressure the system to build fast-spectrum liquid metal reactors and molten salt reactors so there is NO waste, and no further requirement for mining uranium for several centuries.

                The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

                by mojo workin on Wed Jun 16, 2010 at 05:45:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  That pristine place... (0+ / 0-)

                is of course the site of the decommissioned Conn Yankee plant, so the people who did that work would be delighted by your comment.

                I talk about safety for a lifetime for two reasons. First, because it's quite useful if thinking about burying this stuff to leave above ground for fifty to a hundred years so that the encapsulation and the rock formations don't have to bear that initial decay heat load. And second, because in fifty to a hundred years, we will have fast reactors or other even better energy availability that will allow us to efficiently re-use this lightly-used fuel.

                As I said already, the money for waste disposal has already been collected and given to the federal government. It's not a matter of what corporations will or will not do.

                This is not a sig-line.

                by Joffan on Wed Jun 16, 2010 at 06:55:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  If the American authorities would adopt.... (0+ / 0-)

            ...the recycling technology that the French have been using for decades to deal with their used nuclear fuel rather than mandating a wasteful once-through fuel cycle, most of the waste would be completely reusable.

            Just sayin'...

            What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

            by mistersite on Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 09:17:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  So if a diary doesn't mention every (0+ / 0-)

      energy option open to us, it's dishonest?

      Get down off your pet hobby-horse there, pardner. You're too exalted to see.

  •  So glad for this Diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greendem, sberel, PinHole

    I watched Rockefeller on C-Span when he said that. He also said, "I'm proud to vote for the Murkowski amendment."

    It was sad because he comes off as "sincere." I saw him cry during the HIR committe meetings advocating for saving Medicaid for "his people."

    There comes a time when it's time to transcend. Goodbye on this one, Sen. Rockefeller.

    The news: whether you like it or not. -- James Poniewozik

    by RhodaA on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 03:32:28 PM PDT

  •  Coal is in big trouble (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mark louis

    If you have any investments in coal, I would get them out soon.

    "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by greendem on Mon Jun 14, 2010 at 04:06:50 PM PDT

    •  coal has other problems too (0+ / 0-)

      It doesn't work well for ginormous metropolitan areas which is where an awful lot of people live now. Nuclear works a lot better for that with natural gas or petroleum powered ones for peaking (dealing with natural rise and fall of electric consumption--it's not trivial to turn up a nuke). It doesn't pollute the air and doesn't take trains and trains to bring the coal in. Same with natural gas and petroleum power plants. They don't take as much raw fuel as coal and they don't pollute nearly as much.

      Scrubbers aren't magic either. They concentrate the pollutants so they don't get in the air, but the stuff still has to be disposed of somewhere.

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