1 Sky Director Gillian Caldwell confronted President Obama over his position on “clean coal” at an event, and I think the video is worth sharing. You can see Gillian’s blog post about it as well.
February 5, 2010
July 29, 2009
I happened to catch the opening part of President Barack Obama’s health care town hall meeting in Bristol, Virginia. At the beginning of these, local politicians are usually acknowledged by the President. So Obama thanks the Virginia Senators and the Governor, and then mentions that the Congressman of this area is Rick Boucher. Now, Obama could leave it at acknowledging Rick Boucher like the others, but instead he goes on an elaboration of energy, saying Boucher was an early supporter of his campaign, and has worked to ensure an energy policy where clean coal is part of Virginia’s energy future, which will create jobs. Because of this, Obama proclaims “I love Rick Boucher.”
Now, as whole I’m a supporter of Obama’s presidency. After 8 years of Bush I’m infinitely happier with Obama as president. I think Obama understands the critical issues around clean energy and climate change. Although he needs to show much stronger leadership and be more vocal with the media, I have considered the stimulus investment, stronger fuel economy standards, as well as his administration’s aggressive behind the scenes arm-twisting over the Waxman-Markey bill(which I support) to be pretty good. At the same time, I’ve criticized his administration over the EPA ruling on mountaintop removal, as well as his stance on clean coal, which is no secret at this point. The tar sands aren’t looking too good either.
But the notion that Obama can stand there and proclaim such outstanding support for a bought out Congressman is absolutely disgraceful and damaging. Not just because of Boucher’s efforts to drain what should be clean energy funding into longshot carbon capture and sequestration. That you would expect Obama to support. It’s the fact that Boucher was the leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee in weakening Waxman-Markey’s emissions targets and he pushed to weaken them further. It’s that Boucher took a 25% renewable electricity standard and a 15% efficiency standard and turned them into 20% combined together. These were the two biggest weakening effects. Although permit allocations and EPA authority are not at the top of my complaint list, Boucher had a big hand in those tamperings as well. If you could pick one member of the House that’s done the most damage to our efforts to pass a strong climate bill, it’s Rick Boucher. That’s why back in May, I was present at a direct action protest in the halls of Congress, where some blocked Boucher’s office and were arrested. At that event, one of the organizers Mike Tidwell, the director of CCAN and a friend talked about how Obama had all these goals for a good climate bill, and that Boucher was ruining Obama’s plan. If this really was so, Obama would not have such kind words for Boucher.
These kinds of remarks along with the EPA’s inability to block mountaintop removal mining makes me quite perplexed when I hear activists say we should kill the current bill so EPA can work its magic. I seriously doubt EPA would do better even if it moved in a timely fashion and cleared all the legal hurdles.
So, some general points I’m making to take away…
– I wouldn’t bet the planet on the EPA, and I doubt China or India would either. Let’s do our best to get a bill passed and improved out of the Senate that we can take to Copenhagen.
– I don’t like Rick Boucher.
– President Obama is doing some good things and some bad things. However, if he doesn’t adopt a much stronger public stance to pass a Senate bill and get a treaty in Copenhagen, his Presidency will go down in history as a colossal failure despite some of the good things he does.
– You can’t take a stronger public approach if you’re holding hands adoringly with Rick Boucher.
May 12, 2009
I’ve had a lot of posts recently about my Congressman House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the Clean Energy Town Hall Meeting on May 11th. So the moment of truth finally arrived! While I’m sure there will be more media to post, I’m going to reveal what I’ve seen thus far. First, Holly of CCAN had a post about the Town Hall, and she has her own insight on the meeting. CCAN also has a video of the Town Hall, in case you want to check it out. Next, the Diamondback has an article out about the meeting today, which I felt portrayed the meeting accurately, although didn’t mention the speakers before Hoyer. I got quoted too, and didn’t embarass myself too much. One thing Holly and I definitely agree on is the question of the night by a member of my student group UMD for Clean Energy, Jesse Yurow. If you see a politician asked ANY question this year, you have see this one. It’s right after the 1 hour mark on the video. We went over it in our student group meeting and he showed me what he had on his notecard before the town hall started. I knew it was going to be good if he got to ask.
The question combined the fact that efforts to develop clean coal technology had failed, that the extraction of coal is destructive, and whether or not Congressman Hoyer would support a moratorium on new coal plants. This was followed by the entire audience roaring in applause. Now Hoyer doesn’t support this, and he said so, but I could tell it was tough for him. Picture is below.
All in all, this was a succesful meeting. There were 250-300 people attending, the speakers did a great job, and the audience got in a few great questions. The only unfortunate part was that the Congressman was supposed to talk for 15 minutes, but he rambled for 30 and there wasn’t as much time to ask questions as we would’ve liked. Still, despite our differences I’m very gracious that Steny Hoyer took the time out of his busy schedule to come to our campus and participate in this meeting. I’m going to likely have further analysis of this meeting, as well as more media and pictuteres. I will hold off on that stuff until the weekend.
**Update 5/13/09** More Media
March 13, 2009
I’ve documented plenty of reasons why coal use needs to be phased out, and “clean coal” is a joke. In case you need a recap…..The coal industry has gotten a lot of much deserved negative press ever since the coal slurry dam disaster that happened a few months ago. This brought to light that, maybe we should regulate our coal ash. Of course, no amount of regulation will ever make \”clean coal\” a reality, especially considering that it’s extraction often involves the very destructive mountain top removal. Oh..and coal is getting more expensive.
Now there is ANOTHER giant nail in the coffin. This nail is actually pretty sad. There’s been a new report released by the House Committee on Science and Technology which found that the Bush Administration was never actually seriously developing clean coal technology and their entire “FutureGen Program” was pretty much PR the entire time. So not only is there no such thing as “clean coal”, but there was never actually any legitimate attempt to develop it. This sets things back at least 10 years. Even if we got serious about it now, the report says that wide-scale deployment would be realistic in the year 2040. Thanks President Bush.
and if you can bear it…FULL REPORT
“In retrospect, FutureGen appears to have been nothing more than a public relations ploy for Bush Administration officials to make it appear to the public and the world that the United States was doing something to address global warming despite its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.”
“Career staff produced a summary analysis by December 2007 that was entitled, “What “Plan B” would NOT accomplish” (emphasis in original). The concluding paragraphs are so compelling that they are worth quoting at length: Given the above delays [following analysis of how Plan B would slow technology development and deployment], it is reasonable to assume that proceeding with “Plan B” and without FutureGen, the availability of affordable coal fueled CCS plants would be delayed at least 10 years and will not allow widespread deployment of CCS until near 2040.”
“In abandoning the original concept, the Department of Energy left the country with no coherent strategy for carbon capture and sequestration—despite having fingers in many pots. Whether the new Administration and Congress should revive the original program, which was ready to begin work when the Department of Energy killed it, or move to some other initiative, is an open question. It is absolutely clear that the “Plan B” initiative sold to the public and the Congress by Secretary Bodman will not provide the kind of long-term benefits to the United States and the world needed to deal with global climate change. The end result of this trail of mismanagement? Progress on the great challenges to harness technology to build a greener energy future was stalled, and the United States abandoned its global leadership role. This is a disappointing legacy for the Department of Energy.”
March 11, 2009
So this spill fortunately wasn’t serious, but it just goes to show these incidents can hit close to home. The coal industry has gotten a lot of much deserved negative press ever since the coal slurry dam disaster that happened a few months ago. This brought to light that, maybe we should regulate our coal ash. Of course, no amount of regulation will ever make \”clean coal\” a reality, especially considering that it’s extraction often involves the very destructive mountain top removal. Oh..and coal is getting more expensive.
Here’s the link for today’s news
Excerpt that tells it all… “A 4,000-gallon spill of potentially toxic coal ash sludge mostly missed the Potomac River and doesn’t appear to have done much harm, a Maryland environmental official said Tuesday.”
March 8, 2009
So there is a great article by the economist exposing all of the problems of “clean coal”, and why it’s really a pipe dream. I would prefer to call it “slightly less dirty coal” coming to you in the far off future.
This is the only quote I need to take from the article
“Despite all this enthusiasm, however, there is not a single big power plant using CCS anywhere in the world. Utilities refuse to build any, since the technology is expensive and unproven. Advocates insist that the price will come down with time and experience, but it is hard to say by how much, or who should bear the extra cost in the meantime. Green pressure groups worry that captured carbon will eventually leak. In short, the world’s leaders are counting on a fix for climate change that is at best uncertain and at worst unworkable.”
Also here are a couple of columns by myself showing just how much of a farce this is
January 24, 2009
There are more reasons every day to phase out and regulate coal. The coal industry has gotten a lot of much deserved negative press ever since the coal slurry dam disaster that happened a month ago. This brought to light that, maybe we should regulate our coal ash. Of course, no amount of regulation will ever make \”clean coal\” a reality, especially considering that it’s extraction often involves the very destructive mountain top removal. Oh..and coal is getting more expensive. Plus..it smells…sorry I don’t have link for that.
Here’s a link to a good editorial by the NY Times on the collapse of clean coal
January 12, 2009
So besides the fact that coal burning is driving global warming and causing giant clean-up messes, it’s also getting more expensive for ratepayers. A good example of this is a plant being constructed in Indiana. Check out the article here.
The important quotes from this article are below
“In May, Duke Energy asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to approve the Edwardsport plant’s higher cost, saying the project’s estimated cost had risen $365 million to $2.35 billion, largely due to the rising costs of materials and labor.”
“Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy expects the cost of building the 630-megawatt plant to result in an 18 percent rate increase for its customers phased in over the next five years.”
It’s also worth noting that this rate increase doesn’t take into account whether nor not the plant will ever be using some for of carbon sequestration technology(“clean coal”), or whether the price of carbon will be increased by Congress when it decides to regulate emissions.
December 23, 2008
I thought it would be worthwhile to draw attention to another disgrace often overlooked when it comes to coal production. One of the byproducts of Mountaintop Removal coal mining is toxic coal slurry. Billions of gallons are stored in dams, and often it’s around local communities. Nevermind that living so close to these toxic pools of waste affects people’s health, but it’s dangerous since the dam holding back the coal slurry can break. If it does, then the surrounding community faces disaster. There have been incidents in the past where people were killed. In the most recent incident, the majority of the damage appears to have been done to the land and the water, but people’s homes were ruined. Here’s the article on what happened: article
Also, in case you’re unfamiliar with what Mountaintop Removal coal mining is, check out this column of mine : here which I wrote back in September where I shine light on what goes on.
***EDIT NOTE*** I just had an e-mail forwarded to me with even greater in depth detail of this disaster, which I think more appropriately describes this atrocity. I’m going to Copy and Paste the e-mail below, in case people wanted greater background on this.
From: Dave Cooper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 8:05 AM
Subject: [Dave Coopers Mountain Top Removal Roadshow] Huge environmental disaster in Tennessee – Coal Ash spill
To: Mountaintop Removal Road Show list <email@example.com>
There was a huge and terrible environmental disaster in Tennessee yesterday.
TVA has a huge mountain of this coal waste material stored in a gigantic pile next to their Harriman (Kingston) power plant, alongside a tributary of the Tennessee River.
On Monday morning Dec. 22 around 1:00 am, the earthen retaining wall around this mountain of coal ash failed and approximately 500 million gallons of nasty black coal ash flowed into tributaries of the Tennessee River – the water supply for Chattanooga TN and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Flood of sludge breaks TVA dike
Collapse poses risk of toxic ash
By Anne Paine and Colby Sledge • THE TENNESSEAN • December 23, 2008