Coal at a crossroad
By Stephanie I. Cohen
Supreme Court decision aiding environmental groups, hurting coal plant developers
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Coal power plants are having a hard time finding the welcome mat as concerns about global warming and carbon emissions become pivotal issues in the permitting fight for new coal-fired power plants.
Across the nation, legal battles have been fought and won against the building of plants being fueled by coal, and environmentalists and the coal industry are in pitched battle in scores of other fights.
The Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign keeps tabs on proposed coal plants across the country and has claimed "victory" in halting the development of 67 traditional coal-fired power plants with dozens of more cases underway.
What impact decisions to nix coal plants will have on national energy supplies and growing electricity demand is uncertain. Roughly 50% of the electricity consumed in the U.S. is produced from coal, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's statistical arm. As nuclear power plant proposals remain years away from becoming reality and natural gas prices continue to climb, the absence of additional coal plants that provide low cost generation could pose a problem for energy consumers.
"With growing electricity demand and the retirement of 45 gigawatts of capacity, 263 gigawatts of new generating capacity...will be needed by 2030," the agency said in its' Annual Energy Outlook for 2008. Read More
Coal is one of our most abundant natural resources. At the same time, we have an ever growing demand for electricity. The Sierra Club doesn’t seem to be concerned about where we are going to get our electricity from. Rather than objectively looking at each proposed coal project, they have an army of lawyers to automatically dismiss all of them. While renewable resources are being developed for the future, we need a reliable source of electricity today.