Skip to main content

How long have we worked against the coal industry?  How many times have we said that there is no viable option for climate solutions that involve burning one of the dirtiest fuels on Earth?

Coal-fired electric power generation produces 2,000 pounds of atmospheric CO2 for every megawatt of power generated; by comparison natural gas produces 1,100.

Coal produces more particulate emissions in ground-level air than any other power source.  Coal also puts a hell of a lot more things in the air then CO2.  Things like Mercury, Uranium, Fly Ash, Sulfur Dioxide (which quickly forms into Hyposulfurous Acid), Arsenic, and Selenium are all pollutants that naturally occur in coal.

Enough… you don’t need me to list off all the things that are bad about coal.  Not on this blog.  Not in 2013.

That’s not what I want to write about anyway.  I hate apocalyptic environmentalists.  We have a grave crisis on our hands but we do NOT need to be brow-beaten over and over about how we’re all going to die and there is nothing we can do.

The fact is that on this one particular front, with this one key contributor to global warming and environmental pollution, we are WINNING.

In January of 2008 coal was trading at close to $140 per ton (or “short ton” which is the term the industry uses to differentiate from the British 2240lb “long ton”).  Right now it’s at $53.54/short ton.   That hurts.  A lot.

As much as the Right-wing Nutosphere wants to rant and rave about Obama’s left-wing regulatory “War on Coal” agenda what’s really driving this is the plummeting price of Natural Gas.

Coal is not easy to produce.  It has to be mined and trucked from remote locations.  Its messy, dirty, heavy, expensive and slow.  With an abundance of cheap natural gas and a boom alternative market, coal is running out of options to compete and the markets are moving.  …and they are doing so in an accelerated pace.

Meteor Blades had an article last month marking the 150th plant closure since 2010, and it happened to be the Brayton Point plant in Massachusetts, which is one of the single worst polluters in the country.

But since then we’ve only seen more and more bad news roll in for the Coal Industry.

Just this week the Tennessee Valley Authority announced that it is closing 8 more coal plants in Alabama and Kentucky, including all 5 coal units in the notorious Colbert Fossil Plant in Tuscumbia, AL.

The last date I could find numbers for Colbert was 2006.  That year this power plant alone put 8,312,926 TONS of Carbon Dioxide and 40,000 tons of Sulfur Dioxide into the air.  It is now on a path to be producing ZERO.  The announcement was made this week, but it will take months or years to actually get these units turned off.

Let’s look instead at Pennsylvania.

The Mitchell Power Plant and Hatfields Ferry Power Station in Courtney and Masontown, PA respectively are now closed.  As in OFF.  As in SILENT.  Mitchell consumed only 430,000 tons of coal per year for its single coal unit; Hatfields on the other hand devoured 4 MILLION tons of coal every year.  They are now consuming ZERO.  [In 2006 Hatfield emitted 9,139,990 tons of CO2].  And as of October 9th of this year it is now emitting NOTHING.

The same story is told over and over at the Harllee Branch Generating Plant in Georgia and at Illinois’ Pearl Station Plant, at the Whitewater Valley Generating Stationin Richmond, IN.

So if this many plants are no longer burning it, why don’t we stop mining it and just leave it in the ground?  Well…..  we are!

In September, US coal producer James River Coal Company idled half of its Central Appalachian mines.   These were mines that had actively produced 3.7 MILLION tons of coal in 2012 and are now producing ZERO.   In November, the company had to announce that they were immediately closing four more mines in Kentucky.  These four mines in the Buckeye Complex in Eastern Kentucky had already produced 1 million tons in the first nine months of 2013 and are now producing ZERO.

By the way, James River Coal Company’s stock broke $25/share in 2011.  Today it’s trading at $1.34.

Patriot Coal Corporation also shut down its mine complex in Logan County West Virginia back in September.   Oh and Patriot Coal has been in bankruptcy since mid-2012 and is just now seeking court approval to emerge which would explain why its stock is hovering around $0.09/share.

Arch Coal is one of the largest coal producers in the world.  They shut down four mines back in June resulting in a loss of 3 MILLION tons of coal production.  In March 2011, Arch Coal Inc (NYSE:ACI) traded in the low to mid $30’s; today their stock is $4.19/share.

Consol Energy is getting out of coal where it can.  It dumped five of its most automated hi-tech mines off to Murray Energy so it can focus on Natural Gas.

Frasure Creek, a subsidiary of Trinity Coal put on a good show back in 2012 when they started not being able to pay bills and was lining up their equipment for auction.  Here is an interesting pair of headlines:

Frasure Creek Coal says bankruptcy not in company’s plans - August 27, 2012
Frasure Creek parent company forced into bankruptcy -- March 11, 2013
This is rippling out to every sector of the market.  The huge trucks used to haul coal are made by Caterpillar in a plant in Virginia.  Caterpillar announced Monday that the plant is closing.

But isn’t this just market churn?  Old plants go down, new plants start up.  Old mines close, new mines are dug.  That kind of thing, right?  Wrong.  

The Sierra Club is pleased to report that 179 proposed coal plants have been canceled.  And the industry is conceding that the new EPA rules for applying for new permits make coal almost impossible.  Naturally the Republicans response to this is to try to get the EPA rules rolled back so we can burn, baby, burn!

Also, Obama is setting policy rules to making clear that US funds via entities like the World Bank and IMF are not going to be used to back new coal plants anywhere in the world.

So the coal industry has nowhere to go but down.  China is still propping it up quite a bit, so I’m not declaring any kind of total victory yet but things are really moving in a much cleaner direction.

In that vein, and to end on a positive note, Clean Line Energy Partners is planning a $2 billion HVDC (High voltage direct current) across several states to replace this retiring fossil fuel generation with new wind-powered energy.

They released this statement last week (PDF File):

HOUSTON (November 7, 2013) – Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC (Grain Belt Express Clean Line), an affiliate of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC (Clean Line) of Houston, Texas, is pleased to announce that the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) unanimously approved an Order granting a siting permit to Grain Belt Express Clean Line to construct the 370-mile Kansas portion of a new 750-mile direct current transmission line. The line will originate near Dodge City, Kansas and traverse north and east to the Kansas–Missouri border. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver low-cost, wind energy from western Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east that have strong demand for affordable, reliable, clean energy.

Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 4:37 AM PT: More news yesterday:  The UK formally announces that they will join the US in making sure their money was not used to fund new coal projects around the world.  The only very rare exceptions would be extremely poor countries where there is no other options or where the proposal was coupled with cutting-edge Carbon-Capturing Sequestration technology.

Originally posted to Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:29 AM PST.

Also republished by Good News, DK GreenRoots, and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Wisper - can old coal fired power plants (7+ / 0-)

    be converted to natural gas or are they just closed?

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:38:27 AM PST

    •  Converted. Salem Harbor was coal, being converted. (7+ / 0-)

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:50:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Conversion is EXPENSIVE (9+ / 0-)

      What many of them are doing is adding wood by-products into the coal fuel stream to try and get their aggregated EPA regulated numbers down below their required levels.

      That works for some of the smaller plants.

      For conversion, you are essentially rebuilding the entire plant with new technology and given that some of these plants are 20, 30 even 50 years old, oftentimes its much simpler to just shutter them entirely and build new modern pants elsewhere.

      This is particularly true at pure coal plants (like TVA's Colbert station).  5 units, all coal... just shut it down.  Why bother?

      Other sites have 1 or 2 coal units next to several newer gas or even nuclear units.  In those cases conversion gets a closer look since it becomes possible to just rip-and-replace one or two units to get a much longer life out of an existing plant.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:57:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Once closed are most being mothballed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        or "decommissioned"? I'm just wondering if it would be cost effective to resurrect these plants in ~10 years should the price of natural gas increase.

        •  Most of the plants are being truly decom'd (6+ / 0-)

          but the mines are definitely being put in an "idle" status ready to resume digging as soon as a market for coal reemerges.

          The plants are being disassembled for valuable parts and equipment.  Hatfields Ferry in PA for instance is no longer producing a watt of power, but has a sizable workforce still on payroll to handle this work.

          I tried find some information about future plans for the actual physical sites of some of these things, but there's not a lot out there about this.

          Im hoping TVA, being a federal corporation, will have to report on what they will do with the real estate somewhere where it will be public.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:42:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  it's not just natural gas (8+ / 0-)

          The reality is that solar and wind are now more competitive than coal.

          Natural gas prices will probably increase starting in 2015 when we start exporting it in quantity, but solar costs will likely continue their downward trajectory.

          Coal companies are trying hard to open up export markets in China, Mexico.

          The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. --Goya

          by MadScientist on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 01:14:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wind is a little higher. Solar is a LOT higher (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, sturunner

            and does not have the capacity at this point to compete.

            The largest solar farm in the WORLD is in Yuma County, AZ.  The Agua Caliente Solar Project.  

            It currently has a capacity of 253 MW and expects to have 397 MW when it is finished being built.  Biggest in the WORLD!

            The largest outside the US is in India; the Charanka Solar Park that has a 221 MW capacity...but really this is 17 separate plants linked together with no single plant producing more than 25MW.

            Yet the average sized coal plant built back in the 70's that TVA just announced it was closing (Colbert Fossil Station in Alabama) had a 1,000 MW capacity.

            Wind will be able to ramp up to Utility scale in the very near future.  Solar is still a ways from being anything but a very small slice of the energy grid pie.

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:06:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  We don't need as much energy as we used to (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              murrayewv, deepeco, ozsea1, Egalitare, BYw

              IIRC, Per unit of economic output we are needing less energy inputs.  

              This is taking many forms.  Modern construction (even non-green) leeks less.  Office buildings are more efficient.  The next generation of LEDs are going to be more efficient than Florescent Tubes.  

              Demand reduction (negawats) will make a difference because retired dirty coal units will not need replacement because of reduced market demand.  

              I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

              by DavidMS on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:56:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Solar is distributed, not centralized (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SouthernLeveller

              Solar will be on every rooftop, and it will provide a lot more power than we currently use.  The big centralized power plant will become a thing of the past.  We will all be producers, not consumers.

              More energy hits the surface of this planet in the form of sunlight every single day in the form of sunlight than will be burned by all fossil fuels combined over the lifetime of fossil fuels.  That's a fact.

              The thing that terrifies the big power companies about solar is that it removes the need for the big, centralized, controlled, profit-making plant.

              It will be sort of like how the Internet replaced the centralized switchboard.

              The meek shall inherit the Earth that the stupid destroyed.

              by CharlieHipHop on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:58:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  A few notes (0+ / 0-)

              I agree with much of what you say. just wanted to note a few minor discrepancies.

              Ivanpah is running, and bigger than Agua Caliente today...

              Coal spot prices are misleading.  Actual delivered coal prices to power plants in the U.S. have been higher in 2013 than for any year in the past decade except 2011-2012, and are still much higher than 10 years ago (before they had followed gas prices upward).  Sticky prices for coal delivered under long term contracts for the coal and rail are actually a big part of why coal plant dispatch order has changed in the face of the shale gas glut.  If prices for coal floated, coal consumption would be down much less, gas and coal would both be much cheaper, and gas drilling and fracking would be stopped except where significant liquids content justified.

          •  MadS - until wind and solar are 24/7/365 (0+ / 0-)

            sources of reliable power they will not be cost competitive with natural gas.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:43:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Just repeating that does not make it so (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              deepeco, ozsea1, Egalitare, BYw

              Show us your numbers. And remember to factor in the national averages and variance in wind power, 24/7/365 when we finally get a nationally-connected smart grid. Or even the continental averages, including Canada and Mexico. Also technology for storing electricity from the sun for use at night. Solar thermal, for example, by its very nature stores heat in a working fluid when the sun is up, and that heat can be used for some time after the sun goes down to cover the end of the air-conditioning peak.

              Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

              by Mokurai on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:16:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  We don't have that smart grid yet. (0+ / 0-)

                Each time someone runs the numbers, such as the NREL, solar comes out much, much higher than wind/coal/gas/nuke.

                In fact, the capital costs for concentrated solar thermal are higher per kW than nuclear:

                http://bv.com/...

                •  Once upon a time not so long ago... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... we didn't have a dumb grid either.

                  Lead, follow, or get out of the way on renewables.  They are the future, and if they're not, you're grandchildren will be shivering in a dark, irradiated nightmare world and will hate you.  Sorry, but that's just the truth, Ruth.

                  The meek shall inherit the Earth that the stupid destroyed.

                  by CharlieHipHop on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:59:54 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Optimistic (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mwm341

                Or naive wishful thinking.

                Energy storage is a big problem. The technology doesn't yet exist for a smart grid at a utility scale. Sure, I can put solar on my roof, and turn my meter backwards during the day, especially in the afternoon; but I like to use power at night, as well. Until viable energy storage is developed and implemented, power companies still need to keep on hand their traditional power plants, even if they have sufficient capacity for go all solar. (Or wind.)

                Of the renewables, only geothermal and biomass can provide 24/7 baseload power.

                And cost is a really important factor- now matter how green you are, you still don't want your power bill to increase by a factor of 10. If we give everyone a huge battery to charge during the day, and discharge at night (or when renewable isn't available) the cost would be astronomical.

                -5.38, -2.97
                The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

                by ChuckInReno on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 03:12:40 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Natural gas is not really displacing coal (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ChuckInReno

            Power plants are using whichever fuel is the cheapest.

            See: U.S. utilities to burn more coal as natgas prices climb -traders

            World Resources Institute confirmed this:

            “Electricity markets are very dynamic, and while there’s been a lot of press about the success story of the benefits of natural gas, it’s important to realize that that’s temporary and it depends on gas prices staying really low, and we’re starting to see there are these thresholds where utilities will switch back to higher-carbon fuel, like coal.” Source
            •  Really bad! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Egalitare

              "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

              by SouthernLeveller on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 02:43:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Good news, or bad? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mwm341

              If I remember right, most Bangladeshis today still have no power. It is hard to begrudge them any source of power they can find. As one of the poorest countries in the world, they certainly cannot afford higher prices.

              I am very happy for the Banglaeshis who today don't have power, but soon will.

              For the planet's ecosystem, this is bad news.

              Maybe Americans who would criticize 3rd world countries for implementing coal would be willing to forgo all power?

              -5.38, -2.97
              The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

              by ChuckInReno on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 03:15:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  With "no power" and having to employing... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SouthernLeveller

                ...multiple millions of dollars in creating base power from scratch why start with the dirty stuff? Bangladesh has more than sufficient wind and sun resources to build clean, and given the force of the outflows of the Ganges, it's probably an even more reliable flow and much more powerful source of low-head hydro power than the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project

                Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

                by Egalitare on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:45:09 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Additionally, clearly there is some power (0+ / 0-)

                  An 8 story building that collapsed on hundreds of garment workers probably wasn't being powered by elephants on treadmills, right?

                  Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

                  by Egalitare on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:47:37 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Costs (0+ / 0-)

                  If your only goal is to produce power, and you are even willing to cut corners on emissions, nothing, NOTHING is cheaper than coal. And this is a very poor country.

                  Cost really does matter.

                  -5.38, -2.97
                  The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

                  by ChuckInReno on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:06:00 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Burning Shit to Boil Water.. Just Say No (4+ / 0-)

      How 1800's industrial revolution of us...  Screw natural gas.

      Natural gas is how the entire urban (and lots of suburban) northern US keeps from freezing in the winter and we're wasting it on electricity when sun and wind are free.  Re-allocate defense dollar for dollar to solar and wind on a MASSIVE scale before it's too late.

      •  You are apparently advocating taking all of the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        heat of natural gas combustion used for residential, commercial and industrial space heating and suggesting that all of that energy use be replaced by an enormous amount of electrical consumption far over and above present electricity use and consumption.   This would be an enormous increase in the use electricity on all electrical grid systems.

        •  I respectfully disagree with your interpretation (7+ / 0-)

          I believe JohnnySacks is saying that natural gas is widely, and better, used to provide residential heat, cooking energy, and hot water by those of us in the northern United States.  

          I think he is suggesting that it is inefficient to use natural gas in a combustion -> steam -> turbine (kinetic energy) -> electricity transformation when the needed electricity can be generated in a more direct manner, with either photovoltaics or from wind.

          I am inclined to agree.  

          If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us. -Sir Francis Bacon.

          by Res Ipsa Loquitor on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:49:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I hope you're right on your first paragraph. (0+ / 0-)

            On your second paragraph we're a long way away from being able  to operate electric utilities in the manner suggested, particularly with utility-level solar installations outside of the the Southwest, because we have not yet had enough development of wind and especially photovoltaic electric generation units and any electricity storage to support and compliment such wind units.   And, methods of immediately dispatchable energy are still needed and that usually means using fuels for load-following generation units and also large baseload units.....that is why electric utilities are still building gas combustion turbines.

            •  We don't need utility-level solar (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW, JohnnySacks

              This is what the energy conglomerates fear -- solar panels on every roof.

              FACT: If you covered an area the size of Connecticut with solar panels, with existing technology it would produce enough energy to meet ALL energy needs in the U.S.

              An area the size of Connecticut may sound like a lot, until you consider...

              FACT: An area the size of Georgia is already covered by rooftops.  This is to say nothing of parking lots or roadways.

              It won't be a big huge plant way over yonder heating up water to spin turbines.  That's the 20th century.  It will be a distributed generation system feeding into a smart grid.  

              Or it will be catastrophe.  Your choice.

              The meek shall inherit the Earth that the stupid destroyed.

              by CharlieHipHop on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:10:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  That Was Indeed My Intent (0+ / 0-)

            Electric heat has large transmission losses and production inefficiency.  A robust and safe delivery infrastructure is in place for natural gas right now, furnace technologies are able to extract over 90% of the combustion heat, and much less carbon dioxide produced than from coal or oil.  To 'waste' that resource and increase CO2 production in such a low efficiency process as producing electricity when other options are available is just plain irresponsible.

            We will continuously wean ourselves from the use of oil for transportation, either via electric cars or hydrogen fuel cells, but for winter heating, neither are a good solution.  Personally, and this is just an opinion, I think it will eventually sort out to hydrogen.  Hydrogen which Saudi Arabia will be able to cheaply produce from unlimited direct desert sunshine using the decades of wealth poured into their country for oil.

      •  JS - we are likely a decade away (0+ / 0-)

        from cheap power storage that can make utility scale wind and solar reliable 24/7/365 sources of power. We'll get there sooner for distributed rooftop solar. Wind and solar will continue to be more widely used to produce electricity, but natural gas powers more than just turbines that make electricity. Many manufacturing processes are powered by natural gas and we would have to significantly increase the consumption of electricity and upgrade the power grid to replace natural gas in our energy mix.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:40:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You said: (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          deepeco, GDbot, FishOutofWater, Egalitare, BYw
          We'll get there sooner for distributed rooftop solar.
          What we actually need is a national crash program on roof-top solar generation in residential and commercial applications.   What we need to accomplish is to create a system that makes it a  easy decision, financially and otherwise, for home owners and business owners to install roof top solar.  

          What we really need is the concept of a energy generation organization that has the business of installing and fostering such roof-top generation.  We also need to head off threats to dispersed generation inherent in utility control and regulation of dispersed generation capacity and metering issues as explained in some recent DK diaries on controversies over Arizona Public Service's metering and charging policies for disbured generators.

          At the same time we need to get serious about photovoltaic manufacturing in the United States.  We've got to recover some of that business that has gone to foreign photovoltaic producers.

          •  PV panels have become a commodity (0+ / 0-)

            If we are going to put public tax money into solar I would much rather see it going into installation rather than manufacturing. Just take the low cost Chinese product and spend the money on the installation. The installation can't be moved offshore and installations actually increase the installed base of rooftop solar in the US. That's a much better way to spend tax money.

            In each state and utility district the utilities have been guaranteed a return of capital on all their infrastructure and a return on capital for all their investments in approved assets. Rooftop solar isn't going to change that agreement between the utilities and their regulators, it has been guaranteed by contract. So the question is who pays? Solar installations are done by people with higher energy bills, larger homes, and have more upscale demographics. Someone has to pay the utilities, should it all be those people who can't afford solar? That's the issue that the utility regulators are struggling with.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:27:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You said: (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              deepeco, Egalitare
              If we are going to put public tax money into solar I would much rather see it going into installation rather than manufacturing. Just take the low cost Chinese product and spend the money on the installation.
              We should be willing to say to progressive Democrats who are in AFL-CIO manufacturing-based unions that we back their involvement in this industry of the future and that the United States will grow this industry in a competent manner like Democrats usually do when given such economic development and job expansion responsibilities  [ Solyndra being the exception].

                 

              •  LS - there is currently huge over capacity (0+ / 0-)

                in the manufacture of PV panels. Now is the time to take advantage of low prices and spur installations. No US company can manufacture standard PV panels in the US and stay in business. The PV market will fluctuate like computer chips. Why do we want to subsidize such a volatile industry? Let the Chinese companies lose money and go broke. We should buy the cheap panels and install them.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:43:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

            There is a global crash program to attempt to leapfrog the competition in solar PV funded by industry. Prices have been coming down much faster than predicted, and not only because China massively overbuilt solar panel capacity. My years in high-tech market analysis suggest to me that prices will continue to fall faster than predicted, because I have observed that even industry experts are mostly unable to appreciate the analogues of Moore's law that apply to many technologies, not just digital semiconductor chips.

            Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

            by Mokurai on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:21:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I can't see that happening (0+ / 0-)

        We can manage wood waste from forestry by bruning it to spin turbines.  The remaining biochar can be used to improve soils.  Coppicing is an example.  

        We may also see the return of steam locomotive running on biofuels in rural areas with plenty of wood resources makes sense.

        Passanger locomotives running at 130 mph don't sound like the best idea because at those speeds there is a lot of reciprocating weight and managing that is tricky.  The PRR had T1 duplex steam locomotives than had a tendency to beat themselves to death at high speeds.  

        I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

        by DavidMS on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:21:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You said: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw
          We can manage wood waste from forestry by bruning it to spin turbines.  The remaining biochar can be used to improve soils.  Coppicing is an example.
          The solution to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations isn't going to be found in biomass combustion and subsequent CO2 emissions....especially when wood combustion emits more CO2 emission on an emission per unit of heat input basis than natural gas.

          "Coppicing" is absolutely irrelevant to methods which will be used for fuel-wood forestry harvest and to the forest management practices inherent to such fuel-wood forestry.

          •  Its part of the solution, not all of the solution (0+ / 0-)

            I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

            by DavidMS on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:49:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SouthernLeveller

            We need to consider production of the fuel as part of its use. From that perspective, biomass is "nearly" carbon neutral.

            Yes, per BTU (or MW-h, or any other energy unit you like) combustion of biomass produces a lot of CO2. But the production of that fuel utilizes photosynthesis, a carbon negative step.

            The life-cycle analysis is a useful approach to capture these nuances. We can account for the CO2 emissions associated with all steps of production, transportation, conversion, and use of a fuel.

            Coal (and synthetic, not natural) gas do not have a carbon negative component. Hence, they are both huge net emitters. Biomass, on the other hand, does have a carbon negative component, which is why I say it's nearly carbon neutral.

            Moreover, plants like switchgrass can be grown on marginal lands, which aren't suitable to growing foods. Some can be grown with very little inputs at all. Coppicing is an interesting approach.

            Biomass has a lot to offer!!

            -5.38, -2.97
            The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

            by ChuckInReno on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 03:31:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, yes, and more YES (0+ / 0-)

        Why are people so stupid as to not see the obvious?  I believe most people do but that there is a concerted effort backed by certain multi-billion dollar industries to prevent beneficial change.

        The meek shall inherit the Earth that the stupid destroyed.

        by CharlieHipHop on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:06:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Of course coal plants can be converted to burning (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, Wee Mama, Mokurai

      natural gas instead of coal.  It would require low NOX burners of sufficient capacity to replace the heat input that was formerly provided by the coal.  It might also require selecitive catalytic reduction or selective noncatalytic reduction to address NOX emissions from natural gas combustion.

      Sierra Club advocates repowering all of the coal plants in Michigan with natural gas, so the Sierra Club really isn't "beyond natural gas" with its policies on what to do with coal plants.   Accomplishing such a repowering would require new natural gas pipelines and a very significant increase in the delivery of natural gas for electricity generation here in Michigan....although Consumers Energy is also building a new 800 MW combined cycle power plant recently announced for Genesee County.

      While coal plants can be converted to natural gas, from an energy management and stewardship standpoint, you will generally want to be burning natural gas in a combined cycle combustion turbine designed specifically to burn gas and to produce electricity in the most technically proficient manner possible.   Natural gas repowered coal plants will never be able to match the energy conversion efficiency and emission control performance of a natural gas fired combined cycle combustion turbine.

      •  Why it's best to just shut old coal plants down (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW
        Natural gas repowered coal plants will never be able to match the energy conversion efficiency and emission control performance of a natural gas fired combined cycle combustion turbine.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:00:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  A very under-reported story. Thanks for this. (8+ / 0-)

    Lisa Jackson, Obama's former EPA Director, deserves a lot of the credit for this. She used the tools at her disposal, especially the Clean Air Act, to really bludgeon the coal-fired power industry.

    She was a great appointment, and picking the head of her Air Section to succeed her really shows this administration's colors.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:53:22 AM PST

    •  Your EPA " bludgeon of the coal fired power (0+ / 0-)

      industry" rhetoric is exactly the kind of language that the electric utility industry and chamber of commerce are using to bash EPA's decisions, which involve determination of the EPA under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act on the....

      "best system of emission reduction which (taking into account the cost of achieving such reduction and any nonair q2uality health and environmental impact and energy requirements) the Administrator determines has been adequately demonstrated."   42 USC Sec 7411(a)(1)
      If you are a Democrat that supports the Clean Air Act and greenhouse gas emission control requirements, you should ponder what purpose you have with your 'bludgeon" statements here on DK....especially since EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and President Obama would never agree with either the letter or tone of your intimation.
      •  And the coal industry is right. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, JeffW

        They're getting bludgeoned. The EPA is going after them.

        Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of carbon polluters.

        Oh, and you need to stop whining. The coal industry is the enemy, and should be discussed and treated as such.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:50:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And screw all the coal miners too? (0+ / 0-)

          And all of the people in the towns where the coal miners wages keep small businesses going?  Just wipe out a few states that don't matter 'cause they're just a bunch of hillbillies?

          Reminds me of the folks who want to outlaw abortion and have zero compassion for women who have very good reasons for wanting/needing an abortion.

          Yes, coal is dirty and we need to stop using it.  But don't kid yourself that everyone who supports coal does so because they are evil or whatever.  They do it because their survival depends on it.  If you want them to stop fighting so hard then help to come up with alternatives for them.  At the very least acknowledge their existence and humanity.  

          •  We definitely need a jobs program for those areas. (0+ / 0-)

            But we need to find something better to address economic development in Appalachia than runaway climate change. That's just not acceptable solution to the problem.

            Art is the handmaid of human good.

            by joe from Lowell on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 11:15:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Coal country (0+ / 0-)

            You bet.  My Dad's first job was on a coal tipple, and I've still got family back in WV.

            The PRB is killing coal country.  O&G is killing coal country.  Automation is killing coal country.  Utility companies are killing coal country.   Railroads are killing coal country.  Coal companies are killing coal country.

            But all of the things those actors are doing which are impoverishing coal country are hidden by the 'war on coal.'  Once again, Democrats are letting Republicans frame the debate, and ignoring a natural constituency in Appalachia.  

            Even in Appalachia, perhaps especially in Appalachia, most people don't like coal companies.  The fact that our policy and our messaging is so bad that they are embracing the coal barons is embarrassing.

      •  You want to know my purpose? I want coal to die. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rovertheoctopus, Chicago Lawyer, BYw

        I want the coal industry to be culled from the herd and killed.

        Just like Lisa Jackson. Just like Barack Obama. Just like the Sierra Club, just like 350.com.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:52:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I appreciate the improving news on coal pollution (10+ / 0-)

    We need jobs bills to help those miners get training and other employment.

    Am pretty horrified about all the damage fracking causes.

    "The plan is to allow those things that had been proposed over many years to reform a health-care system in America that certainly does need more help..." ~Sarah Palin

    by MsGrin on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:12:27 AM PST

  •  Great Diary, Thanks n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kombema, Wee Mama

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:22:17 AM PST

  •  Not as great as it sounds (6+ / 0-)

    Sorry, but we're really just trading one form of dirty, polluting, greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuel for another. Natural gas fracking is one of the primary causes of the reduced price of coal. Fracking wells leak natural gas (methane) straight into the atmosphere at an alarming rate. Methane is ten times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas (though its impact is much shorter). In the near term natural gas is no better than coal if you take leakage into account. And since fracking also poisons groundwater forever, its direct impact to the environment is also pretty awful.

    Your diary also cites regulatory changes which are reducing the price of coal, and to the degree that coal regulations are the cause of coal's decline I wholeheartedly agree it's worth celebrating. But I worry those regulations are actually the result of money from the gas drilling industry influencing politics as much as anything else. Will those regulations stay in place when the fracking boom ends and suddenly coal is cheaper than natural gas? Here in the Citizens United States?

    I'm not an "apocalyptic environmentalist," but while I do think the risks from global warming are immense, to say we can't do anything about it is fatalistic and self-defeating. But so is turning our backs on real solutions just because they are new and different. The old, "tried and true" ways of getting power are putting us all at risk. We need to sharply change direction or yes, there will be dire consequences. That's just what the science is telling us, not hyperbole.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:42:14 AM PST

    •  No one is saying alt energy wouldnt be better (4+ / 0-)

      but you simply can not look at a national movement away from the dirtiest power to something with a 40% smaller carbon footprint and a 100% smaller mercury footprint as bad.

      Also, driving one power source into the ground is an empirical necessity in creating enough of a market need to get large-scale alternative energy into the market.

      Why would I want to buy wind at a premium when I can get coal cheap and gas cheaper?  Now coal is disappearing and no one will ever want to be all-in on any one source.

      We now have MANY of the very energy corporations we would have listed as our "enemies" a few short years ago actively pursuing renewable energy to supplement their portfolios and plug holes in their growth capacity plans.  Exxon is put $100 million into biofuel.  Duke Energy is building wind farms in Texas and signing 25-year contracts on it.  MidAmerican Utility is putting almost $2B into Iowan wind.

      And as it scales up, the price will continue to drive down.  Balance out some of the subsidies and we could very well see wind at a competitive price point with CNG.

      Fracking needs to be regulated, you won't find any disagreement around these parts.

      But you can not look at hundreds of closed plants, millions of tons of coal being left in the ground and say "this really isn't that good".  It is.  Everyone knows it is.  People have spent the better part of their lives actively trying to achieve exactly this.

      We are winning the coal fight on every front.  Now we'll move on to gas.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:01:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I expect the price of gas to jump up (6+ / 0-)

        in a few years.  Fracked wells "run down" and have to be re-fracked in ten years or less.  Fracking is expensive and the natural gas companies will be reluctant to do it for old or new wells unless the price of gas is high enough for them to make money.  I just hope that by then enough coal plants will have been demolished that it's uneconomic to go back to coal.  

        Wind and solar are now almost as cheap as coal and natural gas.  Soon there will be no market for coal, and only a tiny one for gas.  

        "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

        by Calamity Jean on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:59:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm saying alt energy IS better (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unfangus

        It's better now. To say that wind and solar are more expensive than natural gas right now is only true if you don't calculate the externalities of natural gas and subtract its subsidies. Once those adjustments are included renewables are totally competitive, right now.

        These technologies have grown up and are ready for prime time. In the next decade we will begin to solve the energy storage puzzle and it will be a no-brainer. But we should not be replacing all these coal plants with natural gas plants. Rather we should replace them with renewables to the extent that we can, even if the upfront cost is a little higher. Firstly these plants will not be subject to variable fuel costs in the future. Secondly, the investment we make in not increasing green house gas emissions will come back to us later this century.

        I apologize for sounding like I'm crapping on your diary, because I think this is a really important topic. I tip'd and rec'd it and I hope it gets visibility. I just believe our thinking on energy needs to take a giant leap forward -- past all fossil fuels.

        There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

        by BeerNotWar on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:30:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not yet (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, T Maysle, Cream Puff

          You are waving some kind of magical wishful thinking wand when you use phrases like "subtract its subsidies".

          Those subsidies are not going anywhere in this political environment.  Not for a while.  I wish they were.  I would do anything to make that happen, but in the meantime the energy industry is moving our way without that.

          And utility scale solar is NOT ready.  The technology isn't ready for mass-production at anything close to an affordable price point and there are still questions about transmission.  Solar is better suited for distributed generation and our grid, since its inception, has been more "power plant" based.  These things take time to change, and they ARE changing.  Even the industry insiders are buying into the change.

          Wind is closer, yes.  But it is NOT cheaper right now within the US at scale.  Your own link shows wind at $68/MWh compared to Gas's $56/MWh, and thats a worldwide average... gas is cheaper then average inside the US since we are the world's largest producer.

          That link also touts that 5600 MW of alt energy is now under construction in the whole country.  That's AMAZING.  I whole-heartedly agree.  But 5600?  For the whole country?  I mean the single Colbert plant TVA just announced they were closing is 1000 MW (5 units at 200MW per).  As of 2011, we had 314,000 MW capacity nationwide coming from coal.  I agree wind is the answer but we simply are not ready to cut everything over to alt energy yet.

          Energy is too large of an industry, too long-term projection based to ever hope for any kind of rapid cut-over.  Thats what makes coal's collapse so remarkable.   This is simply not an industry that changes this quick.  

          It requires a transition and we're seeing it.  And its not like we're just going all-in on gas.  Yes, gas is expanding but alt energy is making leaps and bounds and there are plenty of companies biding their time hoping to ride out existing investments for a little longer so they can make that leap to something more future based and skip the interim stage altogether.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 01:03:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Then picture this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Wee Mama, Cream Puff

      as a divide and conquer strategy.  If coal can be killed, you can focus all of your energy on natural gas.  

    •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
      Natural gas fracking is one of the primary causes of the reduced price of coal.
      Your statement is almost unintelligible.   There isn't any such thing as "natural gas fracking"....it is best not to rely on Gasland entertainment workproduct for your information on what goes on in the natural gas industry.
      Fracking wells leak natural gas (methane) straight into the atmosphere at an alarming rate.
      The alarming rates claimed by Howarth/Ingrafea/Gasland are indeed alarming, but they don't have much to do with reality as EPA and DOE have rejected such claims.
      Methane is ten times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas (though its impact is much shorter).
      For purposes of air pollution regulation and permitting, EPA by rule considers methane to have 21 times the atmospheric warming potential of carbon dioxide on a 100 year time frame... See Table A-1 here:

      http://www.gpo.gov/...

      In the near term natural gas is no better than coal if you take leakage into account.
      This is more Gasland-inspired junk science rejected by EPA, DOE and air quality scientists.  And there is no reason that Democrats should consider Josh Fox to be their front man in order to make these indefensible claims in a meeting with President Obama as Fox is demanding these days.
      And since fracking also poisons groundwater forever, its direct impact to the environment is also pretty awful.
      There isn't any evidence that hydraulic fracturing operations have caused any groundwater or methane intrusion into potable water supplies.   That doesn't mean that there are not other causes for contamination problems that do occur....but there isn't any basis to make a claim that hydraulic fracturing operations have damaged groundwater or that hydraulic fracturing operations somehow always cause such contamination.   Believing that without a basis is fanaticism and not valid environmental science.
  •  It is a complicated picture for sure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, nosleep4u

    Coal is becoming too laborious, too Earth-scarring, and too expensive to extract, produce, and burn. At least in the United States. Yet, net generation of coal-based electricity is sharply up this year, to my surprise: 6% year-to-date from January to August; natural gas generation is down 13%. It's still very much a coal versus natural gas dynamic here in the US. And globally, countries like Turkey are still looking to develop dozens of plants over the next few years.

    But of course, solar energy keeps doubling in electricity production, a trend that I think is reaching the economic escape velocity we need to get out of this mess. It's looking like 2013 will be another record year for global carbon dioxide emissions. We still have a ways to go before we can define the moment we reverse the original sin that leaves us on the continuous march to serious global warming and mass extinction. I do think it's possibly within a decade's reach that emissions will begin a substantial tumble.

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

    by rovertheoctopus on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:24:49 AM PST

  •  It's Great News! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blonde moment

    I'm very glad to read this and see that coal is on it's way out, however I have 2 observations:

    1. I afraid it's simply being replaced by also dangerous NatGas, and the awful fracking that produces it.

    2. That we really need to find work for all the miners, and communities that are being decimated by the closure of the coal mines.

    It's this very issue that has turned the once solid blue WV to now an almost solid red state. The energy Co's and the GOP have convinced the people that it's the "Left", and "Obama's War on Coal" that has put them into their economic distress, and not lower coal prices, and the greater use of NatGas.

    I'm happy coal is making an exit, but we need to do something about 1 & 2 as well, or we continue to have collateral damage.

    Just food for thought.

    You have your right to your opinion, I will grant you that, but do not denigrate my right to mine!

    by MrQA on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:31:18 AM PST

    •  Kentucky have also punished Dems for... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, White Buffalo

      this perception of a "war on coal" in national races. However, it's been evident for a while that coal as an industry has been on its way out for decades, much of it do to structural changes with automation replacing labor, and now with competing energy sources giving coal its diminishing returns.

      The Appalachian region is largely employed by energy. There's no reason to not invest in trying to get these areas jumping on renewables to replace the losses from coal. It would really be a win-win. The issue going forward will be seeing that grid parity is reached for solar and wind. However, the momentum is unmistakably furious, all the same. I'm hopeful this can turn around.

      "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

      by rovertheoctopus on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:47:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's funny that WV and the rest of the coal states (0+ / 0-)

      blame Obama and the EPA )(or even the Sierra Club) for the "war on coal". There is a war on coal going on, and it is successful, but it isn't being led by the left. It is being financed and directed by the natural gas industry. This is the free market working just like a right wing wet dream.

      If you have any doubt about what is going on, Google "the clean fuel", which is what the natural gas industry has decided to call itself. Gee, I wonder what "the dirty fuel" might be?

      •  Uhh (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew F Cockburn

        We know this, they don't.... So, how do we fix that?

        You have your right to your opinion, I will grant you that, but do not denigrate my right to mine!

        by MrQA on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:41:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have no idea. (0+ / 0-)

          I really have to hand it to the natural gas publicists. They have all of WV salivating about how much money we are going to get from the Marcellus Shale boom. But somehow it never is mentioned that that will come at the expense of the coal industry.

          There was a bit of a fuss a few years ago when it came out that the natural gas companies were helping to finance the Sierra Club campaign against coal-fired power plants. But somehow that got drowned out by the Obama/EPA meme.

          I suspect that a big part of what is going on is that much of the money behind the gas industry is the same that is behind the coal industry. They don't really care which one wins, but they want someone else to take the blame for the other losing.

          Trying to talk to coal miners about this is like trying to explain to buggy whip makers a century ago that their services are no longer needed.

          •  You said: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Andrew F Cockburn
            There was a bit of a fuss a few years ago when it came out that the natural gas companies were helping to finance the Sierra Club campaign against coal-fired power plants. But somehow that got drowned out by the Obama/EPA meme.
            In the past times of the the Sierra Club when it was headed by Carl Pope, SC did indeed accept money from the natural gas industry.  

            Under Carl Pope, the Sierra Club used those funds to finance its "beyond coal" campaign.   Sierra Club's efforts under Pope were astonishingly successful at heading off several new coal plant proposals that surfaced in the Bush years.   Sierra Club was also successful in bringing pressure on coal-fired electric utility plants on a range of environmental compliance matters in order to help motivate electric utilities into making early closure decisions for coal plants utilities were not interested in upgrading for future compliance.

            That the Sierra Club was able to defeat all of the coal plant proposals it did means that the United States and electric utilities are in a far more favorable position on greenhouse gas emission control measures needed than if the Sierra Club had not carried out that campaign and all of the coal plants were constructed.

            Speaking as a 24 year Sierra Club member and volunteer, I'm glad Carl Pope and Sierra Club accepted those funds from the natural gas industry because it made an enormous difference to the long term trajectory of greenhouse gas emission control measures for the United States.

            •  There isn't argument to be made about this (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Andrew F Cockburn

              outstanding success by the Sierra Club in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from coal-fired electric utilities.   See Daily Kos Diarist Mary Anne Hitt for some narrative on this:

              http://www.dailykos.com/...

              I should also add that other groups were involved in these campaigns addressing coal burning electric utilities, such as NRDC, Earthjustice, NWF, Clean Air Task Force and others.   However, it was the Sierra Club efforts under Carl Pope that deserves the bulk of the credit for this emission reduction achievement and the successful effort to head of new coal plant construction.

            •  I also am glad that the Sierra Club accepted (0+ / 0-)

              money from the gas industry. In no way did I mean to imply any criticism of them or any other environmental groups.

              I was just trying to express my sense of irony that the gas industry was providing support to this effort while at the same time posing as friends of the other extraction industries. Meanwhile the coal mining communities, which consider themselves the victims of all this change, look to the gas industry to rescue them.

  •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    This was informative, and good feed back.

  •  Natural Gas Combined Cycle is also 33% more (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SCFrog, Wisper

    efficient with gas turbines that coal burnt in boilers for even more CO2 reductions.
    Someday low natural gas prices will end and you'll need that extra efficiency when NG prices rise.
    Another fun fact is that more wind reduces the demand for natural gas so that will tend to keep NG prices a bit lower too.
    Finally, natural gas is perfect for distributed electric power
    such as apartment building that make hot water at the same time they make electricity.

    Oh, I forgot if you want to get really techie you can run
    megawatt size superefficient fuel cells on hydrogen produced from natural gas.

    Great diary!

  •  This may be it's own huge opportunity. (0+ / 0-)
    By the way, James River Coal Company’s stock broke $25/share in 2011.  Today it’s trading at $1.34.
    These companies own and have contracts for thousands of acres of land.

    Either buy them out now or wait until they go bankrupt and buy those parcels at the bankruptcy auction.  Then "leave the coal in the ground".

    One way to make sure that coal doesn't get mined is to own the mines.

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 02:11:56 PM PST

  •  Excellent info. Thanks. (0+ / 0-)
  •  Need to stop Gateway Pacific Coal Terminals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LakeSuperior

    The coal industry is proposing 2 different coal export points to put coal on ships headed for Asia. If approved, Seattle will see several mile and a half long coal trains run through town every day. Coal Industry didn't even try to run this through California. They want to go through Washington state because the politics are more favorable up there.

    If this comes to fruition, the CO2 will end up in the atmosphere rather than stay in the ground.


    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 03:54:02 PM PST

    •  And, we need to stop coal leasing on public lands (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobinson

      and the only way we're ever going to get that is by Democrats retaking the  U.S. House of Representatives.

      •  The market is helping with that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LakeSuperior, DavidMS, bobinson

        The last two BLM auctions resulted in NO BUYERS.

        There is already too much coal on the market and too much reserves in active mines.  Companies are cutting shifts, idling mines, slashing prices to try and sell it.  Who wants to buy a whole mine site in this market?

        (Unless its metallic coal that is required for smelting and steel making.  It think there is still a market for that, albeit smaller. ...but thermal coal for energy is an albatross of a commodity at the moment)

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:25:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great news! Republished. Thanks! (0+ / 0-)



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:59:28 PM PST

  •  Curious to see Wyoming rail shipments (0+ / 0-)

    With this crash in the coal market, I wonder how many train paths it's opening up on the Union Pacific main line between Chicago and eastern Wyoming.  The communities on this line, particularly the former Chicago & Northwestern portion between Chicago and Omaha, need passenger rail, and they've been denied it this long due to the extent to which it's choked with coal traffic.  Perhaps not any more.

  •   I hate apocalyptic environmentalists??? (0+ / 0-)

    well, I hate phony environmentalists
    Who’s only joy in life is watch real environmentalists scream in vain....
     

    I hate apocalyptic environmentalists
    The goddamn arctic has melted!
    Climate change denial is still allowed and scientist are still being harassed!
    America’s Coal based energy policy one of the craziest, stupidest and suicidal in history –it doesn’t
    Even produce jobs! They reinvented the 19centry without people!  
    I hate phony environmentalists - - even (small) commonsense  conservation methods are way too much for them…
    The panic button was thirty years ago.

    After thirty years of doing nothing the term phony might be a stretch...

  •  Low coal prices are bad news (0+ / 0-)

    not good news. We want coal to be priced out of the market for consumers so that non-fossil technologies can compete.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:34:29 PM PST

  •  Units (0+ / 0-)
    Coal-fired electric power generation produces 2,000 pounds of atmospheric CO2 for every megawatt of power generated; by comparison natural gas produces 1,100.
    I think you mean megawatt-hours instead of megawatts.
  •  Isn't it ironic (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't it ironic that the solution to our environmental issues related to coal is our movement towards natural gas.  One would think the environmentalists would be petitioning Obama to open the XL pipeline.  I guess they don't care that much about the environment afterall.  

    www.WriterBeat.com

    •  Huh? What's XL have to do with it? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, nomandates

      Natural gas isn't the solution but it is more compatible with renewable power than coal & nuclear because it can be cycled up & off quickly.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:02:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, false choice much? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, nomandates
      One would think the environmentalists would be petitioning Obama to open the XL pipeline.  I guess they don't care that much about the environment afterall.
      Um, the "environment", let alone "environmental issues", encompasses areas well beyond climate, and it's valid to argue that the XL pipeline would be environmentally devastating on its own merits.

      "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

      by rovertheoctopus on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:29:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  World Coal Production - (0+ / 0-)

     photo WorldCoalProduction2_zps4c228dbc.png

  •  Could you please clarify one detail? (0+ / 0-)

    Wisper,

    Thanks for a very interesting diary.  I am looking at a couple of numbers you cite, though, and thinking that either one or the other must be wrong.  The alternative, of course, is that I'm just being obtuse, which happens more often than I'd like.

    You say

    Hatfields on the other hand devoured 4 MILLION tons of coal every year.  They are now consuming ZERO.  [In 2006 Hatfield emitted 9,139,990 tons of CO2].  And as of October 9th of this year it is now emitting NOTHING.
    Note: annual input of 4 million tons of coal; output of 9 million tons of C02 in one year. Is the chemistry of combustion such that the 2 atoms of oxygen used to oxidize each atom of carbon add enough weight to the carbon that the net weight (after subtracting combustion waste) still totals more than twice the gross weight of the coal?  I guess that's probably true now that I think of it.  If I remember my h.s. chemistry from 45 years ago, C weighs 12 and O, 16. So in a completely efficient combustion an input of 12 C should produce an output of 44 CO2 (almost a 4-fold increase).  

    Hmm.  I guess I just answered my own question.  It seems somehow misguided that in measuring our output of a pollutant we should use a measure that includes 4 times as much atmospheric oxygen as it does the carbon pollutant.

    Sorry.  Please excuse my tendency to chase intellectual rabbits that lead to no worthwhile destination.

    Again, thanks for a very interesting diary.

  •  We are only winning if you exclude China & India (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SouthernLeveller

    I think it is great that coal is, indeed, being phased out in the USA.  But both China and India are still increasing use of coal way more than we are reducing our consumption.

    Here is a key quote from a relevant article:

    If the EPA has its way, it will be nearly impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant in America. The same can't be said for China or India, as voracious demand for power means coal will still have a future overseas.

    In fact, according to energy research firm Wood Mackenzie, the nearly insatiable demand for energy in those nations is likely to mute the impact of the carbon policies we are trying to put in place. William Durban, Wood Mackenzie's President of Global Markets, went so far as to say that, "China's demand for coal will almost single-handedly propel the growth of coal as the dominant global fuel."

  •  So, if natural gas is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mwm341

    killing coal, does that mean that fracking, that great enemy of clean water, is the reason natural gas is so cheap, now? Is fracking killing coal and, if so, is that a good trade-off?

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 02:38:21 AM PST

  •  your 'hate' word completely (0+ / 0-)

    effed this diary up for me.

    Take it easy, they are clearly on your side - even if in their hearts they have given up on a particular day.

    I know many of them - working their asses off for thirty years some of them and still watching emissions rise globally. They do get a little down from time to time.

    You could have made a similar point in a more unifying way : " Apocalyptic environmentalists aren't paying enough attention to positive developments such as.." Or " Those who think nothing can be done..."

    Perhaps?

    Just my two cents here - that part screwed a very good article in my opinion.

    Hate doesn't belong there.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site