President Donald stood this week on the bank of the Ohio River before 400 steelworkers, coal miners, and construction workers with barges of coal parked behind him. Amid departures from his text to chastise those he called “obstructionists,” President Donald touted his plan to spend $1 trillion to rebuild the nation’s airports, roads, bridges and tunnels and all other elements of American infrastructure.
With barges as his background canvas, he told of lapses and collapses in the nation’s inland waterways. He cited a gate failure at the Markland Locks on the Ohio River that took five months to repair. He pointed to a massive section of a canal wall that collapsed near Chicago, delaying shipping. [See speech video.]
A release from the White House press office coincided with President Donald’s remarks. Regard inland waterways, the release said:
The infrastructure of America’s inland waterways has been allowed to fall apart, causing delays and preventing the United States from achieving its economic potential. According to [the American Society of Civil Engineers], most of the locks and dams needed to travel the internal waterways are past their 50-year lifespan and nearly 50 percent of voyages suffered delays. Our inland waterway system requires $8.7 billion in maintenance and the maintenance backlog is only getting worse.
Is there a sane mind in the White House, one who believes the resurgence of coal promised by President Donald is a fiction concocted to garner November votes? Or who at least believes the coal industry is dead on its feet?
Even after his election, the president continued to promise coal renewal. In an address at the Environmental Protection Agency in March, he said:
We will unlock job producing natural gas, oil and shale energy. We will produce American coal to power American industry. [emphasis added]
President Donald has taken steps to unleash coal. He’s rolled back clean-air policies and regulations of previous administrations. He’s taken aim at President Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the goal of killing it. He has ordered the lifting of a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands. Continue reading →
It appears Canada may no longer be a willing partner for American coal companies wishing to export coal to Asia. No economically feasible alternatives to get coal to Pacific Rim markets exist for those companies, either.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A coal company with mines in Montana and Wyoming said Thursday that it’s begun exporting fuel to Asia through a Canadian shipping terminal, after its years-long effort to secure port access in the U.S. Pacific Northwest has come up short.
That’s not surprising. The use of coal in America, as S&R explained last year, has stalled — and it’s not going to rebound despite President Donald’s promise to revive the coal industry. So the owners of big coal mines in Montana and Wyoming are looking to export coal to Asian markets to shore up revenues.
But the states of California, Washington, and Oregon have opposed coal export terminal projects in Oakland, Calif.; Bellingham, Gray’s Harbor, and Longview, Wash.; and Port of Morrow, St. Helens, and Coos Bay, Ore. So coal corporations have decided to ship through Canadian ports on its western coast. For now, maybe.
President Donald wants to revive America’s coal industry. He says regulations, most notably from the Environmental Protection Agency, have forced coal plants to close. So he wants to do away with those damn unfriendly regulations (such as the mercury and air toxics standards, the proposed cross-state pollution standard and the proposed limitations of carbon dioxide emissions). After that, Appalachian coal will again be riven from the earth, reviving the industry.
About two years ago I took a break from regular writing about industrial climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change). My day job was very busy and all the writing energy I usually pour into blogging was, instead, going into my work. By the time I got home at the end of the day I didn’t even want to think about writing again. I’d also become very frustrated with how little recognition my efforts seemed to get. The posts I was the most proud of seemed to be ignored almost completely while the stupid l drive-by posts on a topic of the day would get tons of hits and links. And then there was the fact that much of my topics were being duplicated by others with more time and/or money to write, so it seemed like my niche was rapidly disappearing into other climate focused blogs who were doing it better than I could. All these factors combined to make writing about climate an extremely unpleasant experience.
Recently, though, I discovered that there was something else that was clogging up my writing brain – something that I didn’t realize until the blockage had been removed. I discovered that the fact I hadn’t been really doing much personally to address industrial climate disruption had been a metaphorical ball and chain on my writing. When I started leasing my solar panels from Solar City and bought my Nissan Leaf, that particular weight was removed. Continue reading →
“Follow the money – it’s all about the research grants.”
This and similar accusations are commonly made against anyone who advocates on behalf science-based climate policies at all levels, all they way from national academies of science down through professional scientific societies, universities, research groups, and even down to individual scientists. S&R decided to follow the money to see who profits the most from climate disruption, the fossil fuel-related industries or the global climate science community. Note: Many of the numbers below are so large that there’s not a common style convention for writing them. For this post, trillions of dollars will be indicated like this: $1464 billion.
Fossil fuel-related industries are more than just the organizations that extract the crude oil, coal, and natural gas from the ground. There’s also the groups that transport the fuels via ship, train, and pipeline. Then there are the refiners who turn the crude oil or natural gas into unleaded, diesel, plastic, and fertilizer feedstock. And there’s the utilities that keep the lights on by burning natural gas and coal. All of these industries make a great deal of money because carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not priced or regulated, and they all risk losing a great deal of money should that change. Continue reading →
Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is calling for a further weakening of the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES) that passed out of the House last week. Of course, that’s not what she calls it. Sen. McCaskill twittered last week:
I hope we can fix cap and trade so it doesn’t unfairly punish businesses and families in coal dependent states like Missouri. (emphasis mine)
I can’t help but wonder what happened to the Senator who dared mention that oil prices shouldn’t be allowed to fall too far at the Rocky Mountain Roundtable, Session 2, Part 3, during the DNC:
There’s a certain reality here that it is important that we don’t get gas too cheap again, and I certainly agree with what [Randy Udall] said. We will never see the days of… when people are pumping $1, $1.50 gas again. And that may not be an all bad thing because it will motivate the politics on this issue to the forefront so we have a sense of urgency.
According to the article, the direct benefit comes down to the creation of a federal Carbon Storage Research Corporation that is funded by per-kilowatt charges on electric bills instead of a tax on fossil fuel-burning utilities. Continue reading →
to spend $150 billion over the next decade to promote energy from the sun, wind and other renewable sources as well as energy conservation. Plans include raising vehicle fuel-economy standards and subsidizing consumer purchases of plug-in hybrids. Obama wants to weatherize 1 million homes annually and upgrade the nation’s creaky electrical grid. His team has talked of providing tax credits and loan guarantees to clean-energy companies.
His goals: create 5 million new jobs repowering America over 10 years; assert U.S. leadership on global climate change; and wean the U.S. from its dependence on imported petroleum.
He’s currently battling Congress for the appropriations required to turn his vision into reality, and the resistance from Capitol Hill raises once again a question that’s been bouncing around the office here for the last six months: why not revise the tax code to make wind, hydroelectric, solar and other renewable technologies “like-kind” with traditional fossil technologies? This would allow energy companies that wanted to transition into green energy to employ Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges, thereby speeding the switch-over considerably. Continue reading →
“I was in Siberia a few weeks ago, and I am now just back in from the field in Alaska. The permafrost is melting fast all over the Arctic, lakes are forming everywhere and methane is bubbling up out of them.”
“Lakes in Siberia are five times bigger than when I measured them in 2006. It’s unprecedented. This is a global event now, and the inertia for more permafrost melt is increasing.”
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas last week. Many of us here at S&R have been taking some time off from blogging as well, which is why it’s been days since the last update on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal (ash) in the stocking story. So it’s past time for another roundup of the latest news and opinion. Continue reading →
A truly frightening video from ground zero of the coal ash catastrophe
The New York Times reports today that the coal sludge that surged out of a breached Tennessee Valley Authority impoundment in Roane County was actually three times larger than previously estimated. The updated total is 5.4 million cubic yards, “or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep,” Times reporter Shaila Dewan reports.
The discrepancy casts doubt on the credibility of assurances from the Tennessee Valley Authority that the coal combustion waste from its Kingston Fossil Plant poses little risk to residents of the area. (Several days ago, one TVA official told the Associated Press that the waste “consists of inert material not harmful to the environment.”)
In fact, evidence has been gathering for years that the waste dumps pose a very serious risk to human health and the environment. Continue reading →
UPDATE: Greenpeace sent a photographer to the area, and while the photographer was prevented from getting close, he got some good shots here. Also, both CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News devoted primetime to this “sludgeslide” (below the cut). And finally, frontpage NYTimes tomorrow AM will have this article on the ashslide: Coal Ash Spill Revives Issue of Its Hazards.
The Kingston Steam Plant ashslide is already being called the southeast’s worst environmental disaster by some environmentalists and journalists. It appears that some of the national media outlets are finally picking up the story, although this disaster remains woefully undercovered.
CNN has finally picked up the story (last updated around 6 AM MST) with interviews of two Appalachian environmentalists, Chandra Taylor of the Southern Environmental Law Center and Dave Cooper of the Mountaintop Removal Road Show.
Although video from the scene shows dead fish on the banks of the tributary, he said that “in terms of toxicity, until an analysis comes in, you can’t call it toxic.”